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A suitable interpreter should have amongst other attributes, three criteria:

1) A security check;

The security checks are of various types such as CRB, CTC, SC, etc. The adequacy of the type of security check depends on the nature of the job and the organisation which wishes to employ an interpreter. But it is fair to say that for a general user of an interpreter such as a solicitor, it does not really matter which one of the security checks the interpreter in question possesses as long as he or she has got one.

2) An interpreting qualification:

There are many qualifications which really don’t mean much and are not high enough. A qualified interpreter should have a degree level interpreting qualification such as a DPSI (Diploma in Public Service Interpreting) or a Met Exam (Interpreting qualification for Metropolitan Police).

3) An adequate experience;

            Ideally at least 400 hours of experience is required to make sure that the interpreter can cope with normal demands of an assignment.

How does one find an interpreter with the above attributes?

All interpreters on the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) with full status have the above three attributes with minimum of 400 hours of experience.  To learn more about NRPSI, simply click on their logo at the bottom of this page.

However you can contact free of charge The Association of Police and Court Interpreters (APCI) by calling their call centre on 08450-711037 or alternatively search on their website. They put you in touch with a suitable interpreter and you can make your arrangements with the interpreter directly. To learn more about APCI, simply click on their logo at the bottom of this page.

Another way of finding an interpreter is through The Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) which again provides you with a list of linguists for the required language and a given area of expertise. Again, to learn more about CIOL, simply click on their logo at the bottom of this page.

There are nowadays a growing number of agencies who provide interpreters. Agencies are out there to make money, and as a result prices are inflated. The main problem is that they have to rely on cheaper interpreters in order to maintain a healthy profit margin. The cheaper interpreters by default are often unqualified. Agencies over years have proven to have a shocking greed and a total disregard for quality resulting in miscarriage of justice. There have indeed been retrials and other problems attracting media attention as a result of bad interpreters provided by agencies. It goes without saying that use of agencies has to be the last resort and if you are not familiar with NRPSI, APCI and CIOL. Some but not all qualified interpreters work for agencies too but you probably end up overpaying for the service of a qualified interpreter just because you have gone through a middle man. It is true that some agencies have at times provided qualified interpreters.


The acid test has to be the full status membership of NRPSI. You have the right to inspect the interpreter’s NRPSI membership photo ID just as the court clerks in Crown, Magistrates’ and County courts who always do. They check the interpreters NRPSI photo ID at the beginning of a hearing or trial to make sure they have a valid membership for the required language or dialect. Therefore, whatever source of finding an interpreter, you should make sure that the interpreter enjoys a valid full status on NRPSI for the required language.

Interpreting rates:

Qualified interpreters normally charge around £35 per hour with a minimum charge of 3 hours where the length of assignment is shorter than 3 hours. They also charge travel time at £20 per hour plus reasonable travel costs by public transport or at £0.45/mile.

The above rates are not dissimilar to rates of pay by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). The only difference is the rate of pay for travel time where LSC pays £17.50 per hour and mileage at £0.25/mile. Having said that LSC acknowledges the fact that interpreters are self employed and with reasonable justification would pay the same rate as stated in the above paragraph.

Translation rates would depend on the language. In general for translation of a non European language document into English, translators would charge a rate north of £100 per 1000 words such as £130/1000 words. If the translation is from English into the foreign language, then the rate may be slightly higher.

LSC pays a flat £109/1000 words for translation and £4 per minute for transcription jobs.

Interpreting rates have not gone up for at least 10 years with many organisations such as AIT. As a result, interpreters may at times charge rates which are higher and more realistic.

Remember the golden rule; LSC does not pay for any jobs carried out prior to the grant of legal aid or grant of an authorisation by the LSC. Therefore you should have the authorisation in place before you instruct an interpreter.

Disclaimer: The information stated above is an opinion and does not constitute an advice. This field is fluid and stated information could change at any time.