Legal interpretation is the translation of speech (or sign language) from one language to another, face-to-face and in real time.
Legal interpreters are required for court cases where an individual or group of people involved do not speak the official language of the jurisdiction.
The legal interpreter will be required to translate both ways, to ensure all parties are able to communicate with, and fully understand each other.
A court interpreter will most often work to consecutive interpretation. This means that after the person has completed their sentence, they will provide an interpretation. They may choose to take notes or shorthand, so that they can relay the speech with accuracy.
The other form of interpretation in court is simultaneous interpretation. This requires the interpreter to listen and interpret at the same time. This is rare in a courtroom environment, but not unheard of!
Who can be a Legal Interpreter?
If you need somebody to interpret your client’s speech in a court case, you want to ensure that his or her interpretation is going to be entirely accurate.
Even if you have a friend or family member entirely fluent in the required languages, a legal interpreter also needs a deep understanding of legal terms as well as any cultural differences. It is also highly recommended that they are an SME (subject matter expert) in the subject of the case where applicable.
Legal interpreters are also required to stay detached from the content of any conversations, relaying the exact tone and context to ensure a fair trial.
Choosing the Right Legal Interpreter
Legal interpreters are professional linguists, with relevant qualifications and crucially, courtroom experience. They need to not only be able to translate language, tone and context – but it is also vital that they can translate the law, particularly in situations where legislation differs or terminology cannot be directly translated from one language to another.
In addition to these skills, a legal interpreter must be wholly reliable, impartial and maintain confidentiality throughout the case.
At Kwintessential, our legal interpreters go through rigorous screening to ensure that they not only have the required qualifications and skills, but are also a perfect fit for the needs of our clients.
Preparations for Legal Interpreters
The difference between a good legal interpreter and a great one is the preparation they are provided with prior to the case. The essentials that a legal interpreter would need are:
- Any court dates, times and the court address
- A basic outline of the case – the more information the better
- Contact names involved in the case
These are the requirements that we ask for here at Kwintessential before assigning any of our professional legal interpreters to a law firm, lawyer or solicitor.