Rules of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters

Ministry of the Attorney General court interpreters are bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters.  The Rules outline the Ministry’s expectations of accredited court interpreters by clearly setting out the standards against which your performance as an interpreter is measured. The Rules provide guidance for your work before, during and after the proceeding. Adhering to the Rules of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters will assist you to resolve difficulties that arise in and out of the courtroom and also serve to protect you and all parties involved in a proceeding.

The Rules of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters are:

  1. Court interpreters shall faithfully and accurately reproduce in the target language the closest natural equivalent of the source language message, primarily in terms of meaning, and secondarily in terms of style, without embellishment, omission or explanation.
  2. Court interpreters shall remain impartial and should avoid any appearance of bias or favoritism. They should avoid conflicts of interest or appearance thereof, and should indicate to the trial judge any possible conflicts of interest.
  3. Court interpreters shall dress and conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the dignity of the court.
  4. Court interpreters shall never, in the course of their duties, give witnesses or parties advice, or engage in activities which may be construed to constitute the practice of law.
  5. Court interpreters shall keep all assignment-related information confidential.  They shall not publicly discuss, report on or offer an opinion concerning a matter in which they have been involved, even when that information is not privileged or required by law to be kept confidential, and they shall not discuss any aspect of the case they are working on with parties, witnesses or jurors.
  6. A court interpreter who at any time during a given case feels unable to provide adequate interpretation should immediately address the judge to that effect.
  7. Court interpreters shall keep all assignments and appear on time for those assignments.  If unable to keep an assignment, the court interpreter shall give the court as much advance notice as possible, so that another interpreter can be found.
  8. Court interpreters shall interpret only for cases to which they have been assigned by the court office.  If requested to interpret by lawyers or private individuals, they shall first check with the court official who usually requests their services.
  9. Any court interpreter who discovers anything which would impede full compliance with these rules shall immediately report it to the court office.

All ministry court interpreters are bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters and any interpreter who violates these Rules is subject to removal from the Registry of Accredited Freelance Court Interpreters.

How to make a complaint regarding a court interpreter

In order to ensure the highest quality of interpretation and conduct from accredited freelance court interpreters, the Ministry of the Attorney General has established a process to respond to complaints about interpreter performance.  Through this procedure, interpreter complaints are reviewed in a consistent, fair and timely manner and provide the interpreter an opportunity to respond to the issues raised.

To make a complaint about a court interpreter you may contact the Supervisor or Manager of Court Operations at the courthouse where the interpretation took place. They will assist you in completing an Interpreter Incident Report Form. The complaint is reviewed by one of the Interpreter Quality Assurance Coordinators who oversee this process.  Following this review, the Quality Assurance Coordinator may:

  • Dismiss the complaint;
  • Require the interpreter to undertake language re-testing;
  • Require the interpreter to undertake refresher training and re-testing  in court interpretation procedure and ethics; and/or
  • Remove the interpreter from the ministry’s Registry if he/she is found to have violated the Rules of Professional Conduct, or if the results of the re-testing are not satisfactory.

The ministry will communicate the results of the review in writing to the interpreter as well as appropriate court management. The Crown Attorney, counsel, parties and the judicial official will also be advised of the results.