Services | 17.08.2009

The importance of court interpreters

In legal situations involving a person who does not speak the native language of that country, an accurate interpretation is vital to prevent misunderstandings between defendants, prosecutors, lawyers, judge and jury. Highly skilled interpreters should be employed to ensure a fair trial.

A court interpreter needs to possess not only a deep understanding of the languages, in which they specialise, but also a certain level of knowledge about the justice system and criminal procedures. It is essential that court interpreters remain impartial and interpret what is being said precisely, without allowing their own personal prejudices or values to seep in.

A study completed in Japan found that 6,992 foreigners were sentenced in 2007 and that 40 different foreign languages were interpreted in court during the same year. The Japanese courts currently have over 4,000 interpreters registered who cover 58 different language combinations, including the frequently requested Chinese, English and Korean.

Japanese courts hold occasional study meetings in order to maintain a high standard of interpretation. However, in Japan there is currently no system of certification through which they can ensure an interpreter’s knowledge of a language or their comprehension of legal terminology. Conversely, in the UK, the IoL (Institute of Linguists) offer a Diploma in Public Sector Interpretation (DPSI). In order to obtain this highly regarded Diploma the interpreter is required to specialise in a specific subject matter: Health, Law or Local Government. The DPSI offers the end user the assurance that the interpreter they are employing has the appropriate knowledge and experience to interpret their dialogue correctly.

Court/legal interpreters are present during the whole legal process: when the defendant is charged, during subsequent interviews and at the court appearance. Should you require a court interpreter, please contact The Translation People for a comprehensive estimate.

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