Trendspotting. Conflict of interests
This document aims to investigate some cases of conflicting interests between freelance translators and middlemen, and demonstrate that such conflicts may become irreconcilable. As a prime example, the Framework Agreement between the UK Ministry of Justice and Applied Language Solutions (now Capita Translation and Interpreting) is discussed in detail. Further thought is devoted to terms and conditions and technology. Finally, a number of suggested discussion points are listed.
The examples presented below served as the backbone of the “Trendspotting round table” of the 2013 ProZ conference in Porto, Portugal. Many thanks to Marta Stelmaszak for her outstanding participation in the round table, as well as to the many other colleagues who made the discussion lively beyond expectation.
1 The perils of monolithic outsourcing: ALS/Capita and UK court interpreting
Until 2011, interpreting in the justice sector in the UK was ensured primarily by registered public service interpreters (typically self-employed freelancers), who were contacted directly by courts, police forces, and other agencies of criminal justice. Becoming a member of the National Register of Public Service Interpreters required, among others, a diploma in public service interpreting and adherence to a code of professional conduct. A national fee structure was applied, with local payments. The total cost of this service was about 60 million pounds per year.
The system received some criticism for inconsistent screening of the interpreters, inefficient and untimely handling of complaints, and the time-consuming character of bookings and payment.
Subsequent parliamentary investigation showed that, despite the clear administrative inefficiencies, there were no fundamental problems with the quality of the services. Nonetheless, the criticism opened the way to a procurement process, aimed at streamlining bookings and reducing costs.