The future of courtroom interpreting has become clearer after an international language services company formed in Leeds confirmed it has won two components of the Ministry of Justice’s new contract.

The new arrangements will replace the controversial contract held by Capital TI. That contract expires in October. 

The ministry confirmed the awards but said it would be inappropriate to comment further before the new contracts have been signed.

But Thebigword confirmed in a press release that it has won contracts to provide face-to-face interpretation, and written translation and transcription services. The £120m four-year contract can be extended for a further three one-year periods, said the company, which was reported to have a turnover of £42m in 2014.

The contract for non-spoken language services has reportedly been offered to Cambridge firm Clarion Interpreting Limited. A spokesperson for Clarion told the Gazette the company is in a ‘standstill period’ until 7 June and unable to comment further.

Regulators should consider introducing a code of conduct for interpreters, a legal watchdog has advised, reporting that some interpreters have been acting as ‘introducers’ to law firms.

The Legal Services Consumer Panel says ‘better guidance is required around appropriate recruitment of interpreters and ensuring services meet acceptable standards’.

The panel was commissioned by the Legal Services Board to identify the areas of law it considered should be the priorities for the super-regulator’s work on ‘enabling demand for legal services to be met’.

Highlighting a ‘fragmented landscape’ in the area of asylum and immigration, the panel says it access to translators was raised as a problem, with examples of interpreters speaking the wrong language.

‘Where interpreters spoke the correct language, the evidence raised questions about the quality of interpretation as well as the role interpreters were playing – in some instances acting as introducers to law firms,’ the panel says.

The Employment Tribunal did not ‘misdirect’ itself when it dismissed two interpreters’ claims for racial discrimination against the Ministry of Justice, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Lord Justice Underhill restored a 2013 Employment Tribunal decision to dismiss proceedings brought by Dr Windle, of Czech origin, and Mr Arada, of Algerian origin, against the ministry for racial discrimination contrary to part 5 of the Equality Act 2010, which prohibits discrimination against ‘employees’.

The Court of Appeal was asked to consider whether the Employment Appeal Tribunal was right to find that the Employment Tribunal had ‘misdirected itself’ by treating the absence of an ‘umbrella’ contract as a relevant factor in the assessment of the claimants’ employment status.

The judgment states that although Windle and Arada had done ‘a good deal of work’ for HM Courts and Tribunals Service, they did so only on a case-by-case basis.

HMCTS was under no obligation to offer them work; nor were they obliged to accept it when offered. The interpreters were paid simply for work done, with no provision for holiday, sick pay, or pension. They considered themselves self-employed and were treated as such for tax purposes.

Windle and Arada claimed that ‘in various respects’ their terms were less generous than those accorded to British Sign Language interpreters. The judgment states the background to the claims was HM Courts & Tribunals’ decision in 2011 to outsource the provision of interpreter services under a ‘framework agreement’ with Applied Language Services, but that it ‘does not affect the legal issue’.

A Korean man found guilty of rape who claimed that he did not receive a fair trial because the interpreter at the trial “impeded” his ability to understand the proceedings has failed in an appeal against his conviction.

The Criminal Appeal Court refused the appeal after ruling that the appellant had not suffered any prejudice as a result of his alleged lack of understanding.

The Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway, sitting with Lord Menzies and Lord Bracadale, heard that the appellant San Lee was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment in July 2014 after being convicted of rape following at trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The note of appeal raised the issue of whether the appellant had a fair trial in circumstances in which, having initially stated that he did not want an interpreter at all and then changing his mind, the interpreter impeded rather than improved his understanding of the proceedings.

The note also contended that the trial judge erred in her directions on “reasonable belief”.

The appellant, who came to the UK from Korea at the age of 14 with no English because of a desire to become a professional footballer, complained that the interpreter “had not been properly qualified” as he did not possess the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting.