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.


Rearrange the phrase or saying that includes these words: ‘rings’, ‘round’ and ‘running’. As the subject, start with ‘Capita (and previously Applied Language Solutions (ALS))’. Insert the verb ‘are’ and conclude with ‘HM Courts & Tribunals Service (aka the Ministry of Justice)’. And there you have it.

The reputable interpreter associations have been producing irrefutable evidence about the dismal plummeting in standards ever since the ministry insisted on the framework agreement against all evidence and reasoned arguments.

In the face of all common sense, it awarded an enormous and unachievable contract to Gavin Wheeldon’s one-man-band ALS, which was promptly gobbled up as a tasty morsel by Capita. What has ensued has been delivery which is but a pale shadow of the earlier national agreement regime, which worked satisfactorily for years.


• We dispense the people's justice, but it isn't easy. Some who come before us speak other languages, so interpreters play an important role here. Therein lies a problem. Last year, MPs castigated the Ministry of Justice for its "shambolic" handling of the court translation contract, which was given to Capita. Interpreters failed to turn up, leading to the cancellation of trials, and others turned up but botched the job. Since then, the news has continued to be sorrowful. Last week it was said that the cost to the taxpayer of hiring court interpreters has almost doubled to £15.5m in just one year. The quality hardly seems to have risen in step, though ministers claim "dramatic improvements" with more work undertaken and big privatisation savings for the taxpayer. Tell that to the judge. One man, charged with perverting the course of justice was accused – via the interpreter – of being a "pervert".

• Funny until it isn't, and the president of the family division, Sir James Munby, has had enough. Last week, when attention was focused on the elections and Ukip, Ukip, Ukip, he raised a voice. Hats off to the law site suesspiciousminds for noticing. Munby presided over a custody case that required a Slovak interpreter. A "very sad case", he called it. The interpreter failed to show, and when he complained he learned truths so shocking that he detailed them in the judgment. He learned that Capita took the government's money to provide the interpreter, farmed out the work and could eschew liability if the translator didn't turn up. That if it had to cancel, it could do so as late as 2pm on the day before the hearing, at which point it would often be impossible to find a replacement. And that on the day of his ruined hearing, Capita had only 29 suitably qualified Slovak language interpreters when it needed 39 to meet its obligations. So much for the supremacy of the market.

• Takes a lot to make a top judge go public, but Munby didn't mince his words. "Whether the underlying causes are to be found in the nature of the contract between the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty's Courts translation services or whoever and Capita, or in the nature of the contract between Capita and the interpreters it retains, or in the sums paid respectively to Capita and its interpreters, or in an inadequate supply of interpreters (unlikely one might have thought in a language such as Slovak), I do not know. We need to find out." Something for Chris Grayling to crack on with, one would think. Wouldn't like to see him hauled before the beak.


I would just like to personally salute all the Interpreters who are not accepting HMCTS & Police bookings that are requested by Capita.

I am a Kurdish (Sorani) Interpreter and recently I have been offered loads of bookings by Capita to attend HMCourt & Police bookings – which I have declined – and as a result, the Courts & Police have had no other choice but to use the NRPSI to offer me jobs, which I accept. Why not? The rates the NRPSI pay is what we deserve!

So basically if all the Kurdish (Sorani), and other language, Interpreters decline bookings requested by Capita, the Courts/Police will have to use the NRPSI to offer us bookings and pay us the rates we deserve, from all the hard work we have done to achieve the interpreting qualifications. Furthermore, due to Capita downgrading most Tier 2 interpreters, to Tier 3, they won’t be able to take our jobs – only in very small circumstances when the Judge approves the use of a Tier 3 interpreter; but like I said, this happens rarely.

As I said, I salute all the Interpreters who are boycotting Capita, and for you to keep on doing it because as you can see, it is already happening and it’s working, we just need more Interpreters on board to make this a reality everyday, so we get bookings directly via the NRPSI - which I am, thankfuly, getting more regularly.


The courts and access to justice (Page 10)

In the year under review the House of Commons Justice Committee (JC) accused the Ministry of Justice of contempt of parliament in its handling of an enquiry into the contract for court translation and interpretation services in England and Wales. Plans to reform judicial review and legal aid prompted claims by over 100 leading lawyers, including a former Attorney General and a former Director of Public Prosecutions, that they would ‘seriously undermine the rule of law, and Britain’s global reputation for justice’. 

Criminal legal aid reforms across the United Kingdom, and the disastrous court translation contract in England and Wales, are the main developments covered in this section. The reason for exploring the former should be fairly clear. Access to representation via legal aid, as the Justice Secretary wrote in his Foreword to the government’s controversial proposals, ‘goes to the heart of a civilised society, and underpins access to justice’ (Ministry of Justice, 2013a). The proposed changes threw into sharp relief important questions about what access to justice meant in practice.

The court translation contract, in contrast, might appear rather technical, arcane even. Its significance for Justice Policy Review comes less from the controversy that it stirred up and more from what it illustrates about the coalition’s approach to the delivery of a key justice service. The Context and overview section in this issue highlights the importance the coalition attaches to reforming the public sector and growing the private sector. The court translation contract is a good example of this dual priority in action.