Debonair languages goes into administration potentially leaving thousands 'in limbo'
THOUSANDS of highly skilled interpreters and translators could be left unpaid after the collapse of a languages agency.
Debonair Languages this week confirmed that it has gone into administration after ceasing operations on August 5.
The Chorley Old Road-based business had thousands of linguists working across the country on its books.
They fulfilled contracts in sectors including corporate, education, medical and legal services for clients such as the Ministry of Justice and one of the UK’s biggest specialist language agencies thebigword.
It also operates a recruitment section to help bilingual, multilingual and international candidates into careers.
Prior to the announcement of Debonair’s collapse, linguists working for the company received an email informing them the agency had ceased booking operations and thanking them for their services.
It added that the company had secured an agreement with thebigword to make linguist payments.
However many complained they were unable to get in touch with Debonair to discuss their payment.
One former agent, Mian Saleem, who worked in interpreting Urdu and Punjabi for Debonair in courts and tribunals in London said he is still owed around £780 by the company.
He added: “Debonair is not telling us what the situation is all this time and we are in absolute limbo.
“We have got expenses. People have to pay rent and mortgages. They have to look after their families and their homes, then all of a sudden this happens.”
Richard Rodriguez told The Bolton News he is similarly owed around £300 for eight jobs he has recently undertaken interpreting Slovak, Hungarian and Czech for Debonair around Greater Manchester.
Mr Rodriquez had been on holiday in Spain when he received the email for the company.
He said: “I’m not owed a huge amount of money but it did make things difficult. I had to ask my family to lend me some money because of this.
“Some of the jobs I have taken have been as a crematorium interpreter or for mental health and it can be emotional and hard work. So you expect to be paid for it.”
In the meantime payment of agents and the fulfilment of commissions agreed by Debonair after August 5 will now be transferred to thebigword.
However for bookings made prior to that date thebigword remains responsible to pay Debonair for them and therefore Debonair is obligated to pay its linguists, says thebigword.
A spokesman for thebigword said: “thebigword has put in measures to support linguists that had been working with Debonair and, where possible, welcome them to the other roles in thebigword community.”
Debonair was set up in the 1970s after founder, Visvalingam “Mani” Manivannan moved to Bolton from Sri Lanka.
After a brief spell in Manchester the company returned to Bolton in 2015, initially based at St Andrew’s Court and later at Peel House.
Only earlier this year the firm unveiled further expansion plans announcing the launch of its first franchise in Cumbria in May and a German speaking customer services role in June.
Debonair Languages has been approached for comment.