In the latest farce to hit the privatised courts, outsourcing giant Capita did not provide a Mandarin speaker for the case against Sun Liu in Cardiff.

A fuming judge asked a lawyer to trawl Chinese takeaways for a stand-in interpreter as the Government’s botched courts privatisation hit a new low.

Judge Burr had already adjourned the case against Sun Liu at Cardiff Crown Court once, as no Mandarin interpreter was provided by outsourcing giant Capita.

After another no-show the next day Judge Burr asked Liu’s lawyer to search local restaurants for help. The barrister refused and the case was adjourned a second time.

Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter raged: “This is the latest example of how the criminal justice system under David Cameron has descended into a complete farce.”

Liu was in court on July 16 after allegedly failing to attend court in relation to offences of importing banned goods. She denies all charges.

The case finally got underway today, almost two weeks late.

It is just one of thousands of cases each year which have been delayed or abandoned since the Government privatised the court interpreter service in 2012.

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A crown court judge asked a defence barrister to trawl the Chinese restaurants of Cardiff to find an interpreter after the company contracted to provide translators failed to do so on two occasions.

The Gazette has learned that Liu Sun was taken to Cardiff Crown Court on 16 July after being arrested on a warrant in relation to offences of importing prohibited goods. She denies the charges.

His Honour Judge Burr adjourned the case until the following day as no Mandarin interpreter had been provided by Capita.

When the case returned to court on 17 July there was still no interpreter, prompting the judge to make the request, which the defence barrister declined to carry out.

On the third occasion the defendant was brought to court, an interpreter was provided.

A similar problem had occurred at the same court on 15 July when the case of another Chinese defendant, Liu Guiying, had to be adjourned.

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Hello fellow linguists!

My name is Carla Avenia Koency, and I am currently finishing my MA in Conference Interpreting at the National University of Ireland - Galway. I will only get this much coveted degree once I finish my thesis, which I chose to do on the privatisation of court interpreting in the UK.

Some of you might have already heard of me because I was recruiting court interpreters for a questionnaire. That was the initial part of my research... Now I'm on the second part: a survey, one that will only take 10 minutes of your time (no writing required! just clicking!). 

I even made sure that it's extra convenient for you to fill out: you can even access it through your phone!

So, I please ask you to take a few minutes from your busy schedule to click through my questionnaire. It will help me, of course, but also remember that it helps me help you. The more of us there are out there writing about this topic in an academic context, the more attention it will get. Or at least, so I hope. 

Link to the questionnaire: http://questionpro.com/t/AK9EtZRQw3

Please share it with your colleagues! Don't be shy. 

And of course, if you have any questions, you can find me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Hundreds of court cases requiring an interpreter were disrupted in the first quarter as outsourcer Capita continued to fall short of its required performance target.

The statistics for the first three months of 2014 show a rise in the number of requests fulfilled, although the figure remains well below its contractual commitment of 98%.

The number of requests for an interpreter rose to 45,100 – the highest since the contract began in January 2012.

The percentage of requests completed rose by 4% from the last quarter of 2013 - to 94.5% - equal to the previous peak in the third quarter of 2012.

But this means there were still 2,480 cases disrupted due to the lack of an interpreter. At no point since the contract began has Capita reached the 98% performance target.

The data shows the overall number of complaints about the service have fallen to the lowest number since the contract began.

There were 1,000 (2.2% of cases) complaints, down by 21% from the 1,200 in the last three months of 2013 and a 54% fall compared to the 2,100 complaints made in the first quarter of 2013.

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The case of two men charged in relation to the handling of stolen Mercedes vehicles has been adjourned so that evidence can be provided to the defence and appropriate interpreters arranged.

Maksim Filiusin, 35, of Oxford Street, Grantham is charged with one count of handling the stolen Mercedes Sprinters, while Irmantas Urbonas, 37, of Belton Avenue, Grantham, faces one count of attempting to handle the stolen vans.

Both matters date back to March 1 of last year, but the two men were only recently charged on June 23.

Representing Mr Urbonas, Mr Middleton described the case as ‘labyrinthine’ and requested an adjournment so that more evidence could be provided by the CPS.

The case was also unable to proceed because no appropriate interpreters were available.

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