Ensuring quality in legal translation by 3 parties

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Ensuring quality in legal translation
by 3 parties – governments, courts
and translators
Michał Hara
Ministry of Justice
Poland
Background - the European level
• European Union: 28 Member States, over
500,000,000 people and 24 official languages.
• Member States require tools to communicate
with persons who do not speak the language
of proceedings – hence the need for
translators.
• Directive 2010/64/EU on the right to
interpretation and translation in criminal
proceedings – Articles 2(8), 3(9) and 5.
The 3 perspectives
• ‚Governments’ – meaning the entirety of a
State’s governing bodies, including the
legislative and any state-dependent bodies
that can affect the law-making process.
• ‚Courts’ – meaning courts themselves and any
other bodies whose task is to conduct or
oversee any part of criminal proceedings,
including the Police and Public Prosecutors.
• ‚Translators’.
1. Governments
• Legal framework for providing translation in
criminal proceedings.
• Regulated profession.
• Rights and obligations of translators.
• Translation rates.
Regulated profession
Pro
• Ability to control the
qualifications of persons
providing translation.
• Easier enforcement of
obligations (disciplinary
responsibility).
• Strong self-governance
possible.
Regulated profession
Pro
• Ability to control the
qualifications of persons
providing translation.
• Easier enforcement of
obligations (disciplinary
responsibility).
• Strong self-governance
possible.
Con
• Inability to quickly appoint a
translator from a rare
language.
• Greater governmental
control.
Rights and obligations
• Rights and obligations clearly defined in
national law.
• Right to review the case file.
• Impartiality, i.e. translators should be
prohibited from ‚taking sides’ in the
proceedings.
Rights and obligations, rates
• Rights and obligations clearly defined in national
law.
• Right to review the case file.
• Impartiality, i.e. translators should be prohibited
from ‚taking sides’ in the proceedings.
• Rates for translation should be as commercially
attractive as is feasible for the state.
• Too low rates will discourage highly qualified
professionals.
2. Courts
• Effective cooperation between court and
translator can greatly contribute to the quality
of the text.
• Sufficient time for translation.
• Specialisation.
• Quality assessment.
• Consistency.
• ‚Essential documents’.
Sufficient time
• Various quality of court documents (e.g.
photocopies, handwritten texts).
• Different levels of complexity (witness
statements, indictments, expert opinions,
specialised datasheets).
• Strict deadlines can be an enemy of good
translation.
Specialisation
• Courts should be able to appoint specialists in
criminal law and relevant vocabulary.
• Registers of translator specialities – operated
by: Courts? The state? Translator associations?
Quality assessment
• Quality assessment should not be handled by
courts alone.
• Often different translations can be equally
valid.
• Courts do require tools to intervene if they
deem the quality of translation to be
insufficient.
• Appointment of a new translator.
Consistency
• Ideally a single case should be handled by a
single translator.
• Different reasons for change of translator:
imperative obligations, illness, personal
reasons, replacement by court.
‚Essential documents’
• Essential documents – examples listed in
Article 3(2) of Directive 2010/64/EU
• What other documents should be considered
‚essential’ is decided by the court.
• Exercise flexibility – in different cases different
documents may turn out to be ‚essential’.
3. Translators
•
•
•
•
Language and law.
Specialisation.
Professional ethics (professional secrecy).
Personal traits.
Language and law
• Expert knowledge of both native language and
chosen language.
• Good knowledge of criminal law, substantive
and procedural, as well as law in general.
• Useful to know the law of states using chosen
language.
• Professional development – self study,
courses, training.
Specialisation
• Particular expertise in a given field of criminal
law (e.g. medicrime, military crime, banking,
money laundering, transport, etc.).
• Specialisation can be particularly effectively
implemented by translator firms and
associations.
• Specialisation does not mean complete
exclusion of other fields.
Professional ethics
• Professional secrecy.
• Secrecy required to safeguard procedural
rights of persons involved in proceedings.
Professional ethics, personal traits
• Professional secrecy.
• Secrecy required to safeguard procedural
rights of persons involved in proceedings.
• Documents in criminal cases can pertain to
disturbing and unsettling events.
• Court work can be stressful.
Conclusions
• The perspectives of the 3 parties,
Governments, Courts and Translators, overlap
and interweave.
• All 3 parties must cooperate and listen to each
other in order to guarantee high quality of
translation in criminal proceedings.
• None of the 3 parties can achieve it alone!
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