Sunday, 31 January 2016

Problems arising from lack of representation and translation services highlighted in financial remedies case

Problems arising from lack of representation and translation services highlighted in financial remedies case

Mr Justice Holman permits woman to appeal where both parties acted in person

Mr Justice Holman has granted permission for a woman to appeal a financial remedies order after a lack of representation of either party and of an appointment of an interpreter led to a decision by a deputy district judge which was objectively unfair.

In Azizi v Aghaty [2016] EWHC 110 (Fam) Mr Justice Holman said:
"It may seem that, in what follows, I am being critical of the deputy district judge who heard this matter ... I mean no criticism of her at all. She was faced, as so often occurs since the almost wholesale abolition of Legal Aid, with two unrepresented litigants in person. The first language of neither of them is English, and ...the wife in particular has difficulties with that language. In those difficult circumstances the deputy district judge clearly did her best ..."

The deputy district judge had concluded:
"I find that not only did the wife enter into a bigamist [sic] marriage, but that the husband was innocent of the fact ... The fact of her bigamy and dishonest evidence will be reflected in my order."

Holman J insisted that an interpreter should be present at all further hearings in the matter but acknowledged, as noted by counsel, that even where there is such a direction interpreters sometimes do not attend.

For a fuller report in The Law Society's Gazette, please click here. For the judgment, click here.


Friday, 29 January 2016

The Wrong Way to Interpret Justice 
29 January 2016 by Aisha Maniar

The Wrong Way to Interpret Justice
[…] Qualified court interpreters are thus an indispensable part of the justice system, providing a variety of foreign language and deaf user services. Around 700 requests per day are made for interpreters by courts and tribunals in England and Wales. The ongoing boycott of a framework agreement privatising court interpreting services, now in its fifth year, however, has attracted far less attention than strikes against cuts by legal aid lawyers and court magistrates. […]

Monday, 25 January 2016

Capita still falls short on court interpreting 
25 January 2016 by Monidipa Fouzder

Capita still falls short on court interpreting
Nearly four years after the outsourcing of courtroom interpreting to a single contractor, the service continues to fall short of its key performance target, according to the latest government figures.
Between July and September 2015, Capita Translation and Interpreting completed 97% of requests for language services, up from 96% in the previous quarter, but still short of the 98% requirement stated in the contract.
The Ministry of Justice said this was the highest success rate since the contract started on 30 January 2012.
Complaints about the service fell from 580 between April and June last year, to 430 between July and September. The report states that this represented a 1% complaint rate, the lowest since the contract commenced.
The most common cause of complaint was that the ‘interpreter was late’, accounting for 30% of all complaints, an increase of one percentage point from the previous quarter.
‘No interpreter available’ accounted for 21% of complaints, compared with 31% in the previous quarter.
The majority of complaints came from tribunals, which accounted for 61% of all complaints made in the third quarter. The availability of an interpreter accounted for 1% of the total number of ineffective trials in the Crown and magistrates’ courts.
A spokesperson for Capita TI said: ’The current published success rate (ie completed jobs) stands at 97% for the period July to September 2015, demonstrating that our standards for success rates are high and we will continue to strive to increase that further.’
The Ministry of Justice said the figures ’show the highest success rate since the contract began and the rate of complaints was at its lowest level at just one per cent’.
A spokesperson for the ministry added: ’We are absolutely committed to further improving performance to ensure a standard of language services that meets the needs of all those who use the service in the justice system.’
The present contract will expire on 30 October. Competition for future contracts began in October last year.
When asked if Capita TI was hoping to carry on providing interpreter services in the courts and tribunals, its spokesperson said it would not be appropriate for the organisation to comment at this stage.
Since the ministry introduced a new interpreting contract in 2012, it says it has spent £38m less on language service fees.

PQ: 25 January 2016

Interpretation Costs
Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 25th January 2016.

Ian McCrea DUP
Mr I McCrea asked the Minister of Justice to state the cost to the public purse of providing interpreters in police stations for people who do not speak English as their first language. (AQT 3365/11-16)

David Ford Alliance
Again, whilst Ministers are expected to know quite a lot for topical Question Time, I do not think that it is realistic to expect that questions like that can be discussed. He talks about the cost of interpreters, and there are, of course, costs in the justice system for police station interviews and potential court proceedings. Those issues are determined on the basis of the individual's need. I do not carry around in the top of my head the figures for the total cost last year.

Ian McCrea DUP
Given that other countries across Europe ensure that, if a person is in that country and does not have the language of that country as their first language, they have to pay for the provision of an interpreter and, indeed, bring one with them, does the Minister have a view on whether that should be considered for Northern Ireland? Should people who require an interpreter pay to provide one?

David Ford Alliance
I am not sure whether Mr McCrea has had experience of having to pay for a translation into French, German, Spanish or something himself. I am not aware of the full pattern across Europe. Certainly, the pattern of charging for interpretation services is not common to the justice system or, indeed, other services like the health service in the United Kingdom. It is not something that I have been considering to date.