How to Request a Freelance Court Interpreter

Whether you are an accused, a surety or counsel, there are many ways to request interpretation services in Ontario's courts.

As Section 14 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to the assistance of an interpreter for those who do not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are being conducted, the Ministry of the Attorney General's Court Services Division provides court interpretation services in:

  • Any language required in criminal and child protection matters
  • Any language in civil, family and Small Claims Court matters, if the litigant qualifies for the Court Services Division fee waiver
  • French in all civil, family and Small Claims Court matters
  • Sign language in all court matters, and
  • Any language when it is ordered by the court.

To ensure that interpretation services are available during your court appearance, you should ask for an interpreter as soon as you know you will need one. Requesting an interpreter with advanced notice allows court staff adequate time to make arrangements for the date and time required.

If you are an accused:

  • Often, Duty counsel or counsel will request an interpreter during a first appearance when it is clear that interpretation services will be needed. This will be done on the court record and the court clerk will file the request and forward it to the court office.
  • If Duty counsel or counsel does not request an interpreter and you know you will need one, alert the presiding judicial official, Duty counsel or counsel. This should be done on the record.

If you are a surety who:

  • Requires an interpreter when appearing in court, you should ask counsel to request interpretation services from the court.
  • If going to the courthouse to end your obligation, you should call the court office to ensure that an interpreter will be available for you.

If you are counsel:

  • When possible, give court staff as much notice as possible for interpreter requests.
  • Ensure the court clerk has recorded the request to forward to the court office, if you are requesting interpretation services in court.
  • Phone the court office and speak to the Interpreter Coordinator or designated staff to file a request, if you are requesting services prior to a court appearance. Be prepared to give all relevant information to the assignment. You may also be required to fill out a written request.

Important information to provide when requesting a freelance court interpreter:

  • Language of interpretation
  • Who is requesting interpretation services? An accused? A surety? Counsel? (full name needed, ICON number if relevant)
  • Type of appearance (e.g. bail, trial)
  • Date and time interpretation is needed
  • Court location
  • Any other relevant information.