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Top tips for working with a court interpreter

Top tips for working with a court interpreter

Interpreting in the courtroom is a highly specialist skill, requiring knowledge of the court system, complete impartiality and excellent listening skills.  Here are our top tips to help you get the right specialist help.

1 Make sure your interpreter can understand the person they are helping – check language, dialect, pronunciation and if possible arrange a quick conversation beforehand to make sure that communication is good.

2 Use a qualified interpreter – court interpreting is a specialist skill which involves knowing how the court system operates and being appropriately qualified – look for an NRPSI qualification as a minimum. What the interpreter says and how they handle the court appearance may have a serious effect on the case. Never use a relative or friend, even if they are suitably qualified and experienced as there may be an appearance of conflict of interest.

3 Give the interpreter as much background information as possible – a full court bundle would be best, but if not an overview of any documents, specialist terminology likely to be involved and if any particular information needs to be phrased in a special way for clarity.

4 Ensure the interpreter gets enough breaks – court interpreting is hard work and demands lots of concentration – make sure you have enough breaks scheduled or get another interpreter in to assist.

5 Help your interpreter to do their job – people needing a court interpreter are often nervous and can be incoherent so speak slowly and clearly, stop if requested to do so and make sure you don’t interrupt. Ideally stand where the interpreter can easily see you. Don’t use ambiguous language or double negatives. If you ask “Where did you go?” make sure you clarify who “you” refers to – just one person or more?

If you need a court interpreter for any part of the judicial process, from taking a witness statement to a full trial, get in touch now on or 0844 856 1086 and we will help you find the right person to help.


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