Over the last year, England has been encountering considerable problems in courts due to the lack of legal interpreters. The problem was fueled by a contract aimed to outsource court interpreter services with a localization company, Applied Language Solutions. Several trials have been abandoned or have been forced to rely on inaccurate and insufficient translation tools like Google Translate or on family members with no training in the legal field.
The problem began when Kenneth Clarke, the Conservative Member of Parliament, privatized the translation services offered in court, which used to rely on local interpreters. The service is now being provided by Applied Language Solutions, which has been accused of not reaching the proper level required by the situation. The month after the deal was signed, Applied Language Solutions complied with only 65% of the services needed and had to face more than 2,200 complaints.
Applied Language Solutions’ CEO, Gavin Wheeldon, has asserted that the performance has improved in recent months and that the number of complaints has dropped. He assured the problem lies on the fact that there was a strong encouragement for interpreters not to work for this new system, which in turn caused the level of the interpreters who were willing to participate to drop.