The UK’s Crown Commercial Service (CCS) awarded one of the world’s largest ever language services contract to a total of 13 suppliers on April 22, 2016. Tasked with rolling three previous language services contracts (ref: RM987RM738, CAG/912/0181) into one, the CSS launched one giant tender that could be worth as much as GBP 250m and will run for three years with an optional 12-month extension.

The suppliers of the previous contracts were K International and thebigword for written translation, and LanguageLine, Prestige Network, and thebigword for face-to-face Interpreting. Telephone interpreting was likely provided by LanguageLine and thebigword, but the actual contract award was unavailable. Of all the incumbents, only LanguageLine is not included in the new list of suppliers.

Three in One

The CSS’ rationale behind rolling those three contracts into one was probably to shake up the government’s existing, less than satisfactory procurement process by adding more vendors into the mix―a strategy that is now also being tried at the county level.

Three Vietnamese men accused of running a cannabis factory have had the case against them dropped – because an interpreter was not available.
The trio were alleged to have been in possession of cannabis with a street value of £185,000 following a raid on the premises in Auchtermuchty, Fife.
But a judge at Dundee Sheriff Court threw the case out on Tuesday this week after a Vietnamese interpreter was unavailable.
Ngoc Anh Duong (26), Minh My Ho (20), and Long Van Le (22) walked free following the bungle.
Although the Crown Office says it has not ruled out future proceedings, the case has led to claims that the SNP government is running an “amateurish” and “incompetent” Scottish justice system.

All credit is again due to reporter Monidipa Fouzder for alerting us to the further dog’s breakfast the Ministry of Justice seems intent on perpetrating when seeking bids for the new contract (or contracts) for court interpreters scheduled to begin on 31 October.

The contrivance of four supposedly exclusive lots is just as half-baked as the three tiers of interpreter provision which bedevilled the existing contract from the outset. To suppose no overlap with those lots is fanciful – just as it was plainly fallacious over the three tiers to proceed as though ‘the more serious the case, the more complex the language’.

We all have a more pressing obligation to work together to get this right, with the relevant provisions of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights having been adopted here as long ago as 27 October 2013.

The small print of earlier days made plain the intent of the ministry to foist inferior interpreter services upon us in all legally aided cases through the medium of that same exclusive contract. The Law Society saw that off – for the moment.

Days before latest statistics for courtroom interpreting are published, the Ministry of Justice has revealed that the current monopoly service provider has paid ‘service credits’ on 44 occasions for failing to meet its contractual requirement.

Statistics published by the ministry show that Capita Translation and Interpreting has continuously fallen short of the 98% performance target stated in the contract.

Latest figures show that Capita TI completed 97% of requests for language services between July and September 2015, the highest success rate since the contract started on 30 January 2012.

Responding to a question by shadow minister for human rights Andy Slaughter last week, justice minister Shailesh Vara said service credits can be imposed on Capita ‘in line with the terms of the contractual level of 98% success rate’.

From the beginning of the contract in January 2012 until September 2015, Capita TI paid 'service credits’ on 44 occasions, Vara said.

A man facing allegations of drug dealing in Yeovil has had his case adjourned so an interpreter can be present.

Piotr Golebiowski, 33, of Middle Street, Yeovil, is charged with being in possession of a quantity of cannabis (class B) with intent to supply it to unknown persons at Yeovil on January 11.

He is also charged with a similar offence involving a quantity of amphetamine (class B) with intent to supply and is also facing an alleged offence of driving a BMW vehicle on Lyde Road in Yeovil without insurance on the same date.

When the defendant appeared before Somerset Magistrates at Yeovil the Bench was told he spoke very little English and was unable to fully understand the court proceedings.

They agreed to adjourn the case to April 27 when a Police interpreter will be present and until then released Golebiowski on unconditional bail.