MOJ consulting on Court-appointed Interpreter Services Quality Framework
Fri 27 Jan 2023
The Ministry of Justice is consulting on a draft Court-appointed Interpreter Services Quality Framework. Feedback due by 24 February 2023.
Consultation on Court-appointed Interpreter Services Quality Framework
Update: The Ministry of Justice published Interpreter Services Quality Framework in May 2023. MOJ has also published a factsheet on the framework and guides to identifying if someone needs an interpreter and conducting proceedings with interpreters.
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is inviting feedback on a draft Court-appointed Interpreter Services Quality Framework.
The closing date to give feedback is 24 February 2023.
The Ministry developed the Draft Interpreter Services Quality Framework to enhance the existing Court-appointed interpreter service. It will help ensure that services are high quality and nationally consistent, and meet the needs of participants.
The Quality Framework Factsheet states the Framework "...formalises good practice already occurring and also introduces new standards, which are based on Australian standards adapted for the Aotearoa environment." The Factsheet summarises the main points of the framework related to criminal record checks, required qualifications, new mandatory online training modules, a new interpreter code of conduct, guidelines for briefings by counsel, court materials, access to employee assistance for interpreters, Court and Tribunal orientation and guidance on how to assess the need for an interpreter.
Family violence and sexual violence are referred to several times through the draft Framework. For example, under the Code of Conduct, related to Being impartial (page 22), it states that interpreters must not interfere with or prejudice the independence of the judiciary or the court by:
"altering or minimising a complainant’s or a witness’s descriptions of violence, even if they are describing interpersonal violence perpetrated by a spouse, a senior, elder or any person of high regard within a community."
The Code of Conduct also comments on reporting concerns about family violence and sexual violence (page 26-27) stating:
"If an interpreter has concerns about a participant’s safety, they should arrange to speak privately with the judicial officer or a court victim advisor about their concerns.
Once it is available, interpreters will be expected to complete the Ministry’s training to improve justice sector professionals’ awareness and response to family violence and sexual violence."
It further notes on page 27 that:
"When necessary, an interpreter must bring matters of immediate concern to the attention of the court at the time they occur (including when there is a concern of family violence or sexual violence). The manner in which this is done needs to be agreed with the judge before the hearing or trial."
The Framework also notes in relation to Family violence and sexual violence matters (page 37):
"Where an interpreter is booked for a matter involving family violence or sexual violence, different interpreters must be assigned for the victims and witnesses than assigned for the defendant. In sexual violence cases, the characteristics (for example, gender) of the interpreter will be assigned according to the victim’s preference."
Feedback is invited from anyone with an interest in improving access to justice, especially for people who communicate best in a language other than English. MOJ is particularly inviting feedback from:
- independent interpreters appointed to provide interpreting services to the courts and tribunals
- Language Service Provider (LSPs) who provides interpreting services to courts and tribunals
- lawyers who work with interpreters to ensure participants are represented in a proceeding in their spoken language
- members of the judiciary
- court and tribunal staff members who facilitate hearings with court appointed interpreters
- service providers to the court.
The Ministry of Justice previously published handouts that provide translations of terms related to family violence in 13 different languages. The documents are designed to be used by interpreters working with people when English is a second language in proceedings involving family violence.