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Court Interpreters and Legal Proceedings

Language Interpreting and Access to Justice

It is a fundamental rule of justice that anyone in a court hearing should have access to a qualified language interpreter in order to understand the proceedings. The interpreter must be competent and accurate. In addition to being fluent to mother-tongue standard in the designated languages, the interpreter also needs to be comfortable with legal terminology.

The stakes are high: inaccurate interpretation can lead to a mistrial.

The same right applies to other legal proceedings such as tribunals, depositions and arbitrations.

Consecutive Interpreters

The type of interpreting usually used in court hearings and other legal proceedings is Consecutive Interpreting.

  • Consecutive interpreters wait for the speaker to pause before interpreting.
  • Depending on the situation, the interpreter may interpret after every sentence or may take notes and interpret several minutes of speech at once.
  • This service is easy to set up - it requires no special equipment.
  • Consecutive interpreters are most helpful where only two languages are being used (usually English and one other language).

In large, multi-lingual legal proceedings, Simultaneous Interpreting may be used.
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