Italian court Interpreter poaching clients
I had a recent experience with an Italian Interpreter in Yeovil which is worth sharing. Our client attended Court for his first hearing only to find out, a couple of hours after arriving, that the interpreter had been contacted and had indicated he was unable to attend. The case was adjourned for a week. The following week, the client attended at 9.30 as required and the interpreter eventually turned up at 12-ish.
A consultation with the client and interpreter took place, during the course of which, the interpreter stated that the advice should be spelt out all at once (not sentence by sentence) and he would then explain to the client. Although unorthodox, this course of action was followed. The interpreter then indicated that he would take the client outside for a cigarette and interpret what had been said. He supplied the client with the cigarettes. When they returned, he explained that the client wished to elect Crown Court trial and wanted my firm to deal with the case that day. However, the client now wished to instruct a Firm in Cardiff to conduct the future proceedings in the Crown Court.
This all seemed highly suspicious as it was clear the client had no connection to Wales. The following day, our client later indicated, the Cardiff lawyer attended the restaurant he worked in, in Yeovil, with the italian interpreter and had lunch. The lawyer also signed him up to a fresh legal aid application and attended our local Magistrates Court to lodge it.
Having discussed this with the client and expressed our concerns at the information he had been given by the interpreter at Court, he confirmed that the interpreter had advised him to transfer instructions to this firm in Cardiff. Upon further investigation, we were able to establish that the lawyer in Cardiff and the interpreter were known to each other on a personal level (friends on Facebook).
Thankfully, the Crown Court Judge saw through this blatant attempt by the Italian interpreter to refer work to a personal contact, by refusing to transfer legal aid, commenting that the actions of both the interpreter and Cardiff lawyer had been 'underhand'.