Translation Problems Causing Chaos in UK Courts

Professional translators and interpreters are vital members of the court in some cases. If a plaintiff or defendant can’t speak the native language of the country in which they are being tried, the trial will not be fair and the outcome will be meaningless. When those translators fail to translate the hearing accurately or are not present at the ruling, the case becomes much more complicated, and in many cases is delayed for months. If you’ve ever waited with baited breath for a court decision to go through, you know how strenuous that waiting period can be.

The Problems are a Result of Translation Monopoly

Earlier this year, the British Ministry of Justices awarded a company called Applied Language Services (ALS) a monopoly contract for their services. In other words, ALS was set to be the only provider of translators for court rulings in the United Kingdom. The contract was meant to supply UK courts with an endless supply of quality, professional translation experts, but the opposite happened instead. ALS wasn’t paying enough to their experienced translators, so many of them left to continue working on their own outside the courtroom. This has left ALS with very few and very inexperienced translators to send to the courts.

Translators Making Rookie Mistakes

The courtrooms in the UK have been looking less than professional because of the failed monopoly contract with ALS. They have been cancelling hearings the morning of, and in some cases suspects are being released based on the completely incorrect legal translations. Since so many translators have left ALS to find better pay with more reputable companies, ALS is sending in the rookie translators, and they are making horrible mistakes. In some cases, translators don’t even show up. Only 58% of hearings that required a translator in February 2012 were actually supplied with one. The remaining percentage had to simply cancel the hearing or work without one.

If the UK courts don’t end their contract with ALS soon and open up their hearings to professionals from other translation services, they will quickly lose the respect and trust of the general public. Especially for people requiring hearings with a translator, going to the court might seem too risky, and serious crimes might be left unpunished. Without repair, this could be the downfall of the UK court system as a whole, so they should fix the problem as soon as possible.

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