Few things that it is impossible to imagine can be worse than being locked up in a foreign country when no-one speaks your language, whether it be the court, the police, the prosecution, the fellow prisoners and even your own lawyer. Without the ability to communicate you don't really know what charges you face, what sentence you might face, what your chances are of being acquitted and even what is going to happen next.
Increasing in magistrates court and crown courts around the land defendants without any english are appearing without the benefit of an interpreter. This can be because the court have failed to book someone or because one court has failed to tell another that an interpreter is needed, or because the interpreting agency has no-one available, or because the booked interpreter has just failed to turn up.
This disgraceful state of affairs cannot be allowed to persist. Each time the problem arises, lawyers need to be shouting from the rooftop to ensure that things are put right swiftly and as fully as possible.
At the Johnson Partnership we have made representations to resident judges at a number of court centres about the failings of the governments chosen interpreting agency. in a despite attempt to put things right we now have available lawyers who speak french, German, Romanian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Punjabi, Russian, Swedish. This is a mere sticking plaster in many respects however it does mean that we have the best chance of being able to maintain meaningful contact irrespective of the failings of the system.
If you find yourself with a family member who is regularly being let down by their interpreter
please don't hesitate to contact us to see whether we can help.