24 Jun 2013
Lack of interpreters holding up courts cases in North Wales
Trials are being held up while the right people are found to deal with certain dialects
Important court cases are being delayed because of difficulties with translators and interpreters.
The trial of Slovakian Julius Hecko, who was found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for 10 years at Caernarfon Crown Court, was delayed for nearly three days because Capita, the company contracted to supply interpreters, sent Czech speakers.
Last Friday Lithuanian Gytis Masiulis admitted causing the death of a young woman by dangerous driving at Mold Crown Court.
At his first appearance at Flintshire magistrates’ court the case had to be delayed for 24 hours when no interpreter turned up.
A Parliamentary committee heard more than 600 UK court cases have been postponed or abandoned as a result of problems with Capita interpreters.
During the Caernarfon trial a Slovakian interpreter, instructed by Hecko’s defence team, objected as Czech speaking translators took the oath. In all five translators were rejected before suitably qualified Slovakian speakers were found. These were not provided by Capita.
Judge Merfyn Hughes QC was told there were similarities between the two languages but with distinct differences.
Ordering an explanation the judge ruled: “We cannot take any risk in this case. Mr Hecko is entitled to understand every word said in his trial.”
Lawyers told the Daily Post the delays and problems are all because of cost.
One solicitor said: “The Court Service are prevented from seeking interpreters from anyone other than Capita Translation and Interpreting Services. They are at the root of the problem and its all down to money.
“If court staff were able to source interpreters from a variety of sources it would run much more smoothly.”
Last night a Capita spokeswoman acknowledged there had been “challenges regarding the delivery of this contract”.
"Processes have been put in place to get the service running efficiently and effectively. The vast majority of booking requests are fulfilled and the volume of complaints has fallen.
“Capita is committed to fully supporting the requirements of the Ministry of Justice, police and court service and providing opportunities for interpreters.
"Any complaints received from our customers about interpreters on the registered panel are investigated.
“All of the registered panel of interpreters are qualified to at least the minimum standards required and many are qualified well beyond this."