Translation Services in Court

The term “court translation” is used in respect to a legal translation in a broad sense – not only in a courthouse, but also in police departments, customs institutions, and law offices. The official court translation dates back to the middle 20th century, when famous and important judicial proceedings took place after World War II. Regardless of techniques, the court translation differs from other kinds of translation with a close attention to ethical issues. Concerning translation modes, this peculiarity manifests itself in strict, impartial and confidential translation. Also, a translator can be asked to translate any documentary evidence, telephone conversation, or insert subtitles into a video file.

In principle, testimony of a witness must be rendered in full extent, which refers not only to words and sentences, but also to different interjections and exclamations. This requirement is explained by the fact that judges deal with life and freedom of people and they often decide on the question of law according to reliability of the testimony and trial participant’s behavior. However, a lot of specialists point out that these important elements stay untranslated, which negatively influences the fidelity of the translation.

Translators appear in court, when an accused person does not understand the language of trial (an immigrant or a representative of national minority). The right to a translator is a legal right, and no one shall be deprived of this right. At the same time, a witness may refuse from translation services, if he or she has fluent knowledge of language of court proceedings.

Unskilled court translators can create a lot of problems since they can have a poor experience, they can be unable to judge on intercultural differences, and they can distort meaning of testimony. That is why accused persons must be considerate to translators, since such linguist specialists can make a judge deliver a judgment not in favor of accused persons. If defendants believe that their translator has poor skills, they can refuse from translation services and monitor the situation in court by themselves.

So, the translation in court must be executed only by highly professional translators, who have appropriate skills and rich experience in the legal sphere.