6 September 2012 by Catherine Baksi
Law Society warning over 'monopoly' interpreting deals
The Law Society has warned of the ‘inherent risk’ in granting a monopoly contract to a single provider of courtroom interpreting, but said it lacks sufficient evidence to judge whether the contract awarded to Applied Language Solutions caused a ‘major structural problem’.
Responding to the justice committee’s call for written evidence on the controversial deal between the Ministry of Justice and the company contracted to provide court interpreters, the Law Society said it had received submissions from only four solicitors.
The Society said: ‘It is clear that there have been some problems which have caused individual distress, unnecessary adjournments and inconvenience, and which suggests that there may be a wider difficulty.’
Chancery Lane also highlighted the importance of the efficient delivery of translation services to the smooth running of the justice system and warned of the ‘significant risk of miscarriages of justice’ occurring where the standard of interpretation is inadequate.
The contract with Oldham-based ALS was intended by the MoJ to save £18m a year, cutting translation costs by nearly a third. The ministry described the initial difficulties as ‘teething problems’ but said the situation has now improved.