Judge Michael Carroll slams court translation service Applied Language Solutions
A judge sitting in Maidstone has slammed a private firm's
failure to supply a court interpreter just days after official
figures revealed the number of criminal cases that have
collapsed since their appointment.
Judge Michael Carroll said the behaviour of Applied Language
Solutions, appointed by former Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke in
January to provide translators to courts across England, was "so
close to contempt of court".
A Slovak interpreter had been booked as far back as August to
help defendant Lubomir Chorvat during his trial on a charge of
wounding with intent.
However, the case failed to start when it was discovered a
Slovak interpreter was not available for the defence team.
Arrangements were hastily made for a Czech translator to assist
after the lunch adjournment.
But when the court reassembled, Judge Carroll (pictured
above) was told their services had also been cancelled.
Addressing the court, the judge did little to hide his
"This is so close to contempt of court that I feel I should take the matter further" – Judge Michael Carroll
"We now have a
nightmare situation where someone awaiting trial on an extremely
serious matter is not able to be told what is happening in his
"He has not seen his barrister this morning because of no
interpreter and he is being kept in the dark by the inability or
unwillingness of a company which is contracted to supply an
interpreter and their failure to do so without any kind of
explanation to the court.
"This is so close to contempt of court that I feel I should take
the matter further."
Before January, courts in England used to rely on local
However, ALS was handed the monopoly on translating in the hope
it would save the government £18million a year.
Figures from the National Audit Office revealed at the weekend
that in the first three months of its contract, 182 magistrate
court trials, and an unknown number in crown courts, have
A trial is declared "ineffective" if, like Chorvat's, it has to
be abandoned on day one. The cost of yesterday's delay was
estimated to have cost the taxpayer £8,000.
Maidstone Crown Court,
where Chorvat's case was due to be heard
When the possibility of calling upon the services of an
independent interpreter was broached, Judge Carroll remarked: "I am
not sure the court has the power to appoint an outside interpreter
when a huge amount has already been paid to an agency who refuses
to honour their contract."
Despite being assured that a Slovak translator would be
available, the judge added he was prepared to report the matter to
the Lord Chief Justice.
"Something has to be done," continued Judge Carroll. "Not just
something has to be seen to be done, but something has to be
Chorvat, 55, of Richmond Road, Gillingham, denies wounding Milan
Jankech with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm between June
17 and 18.
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