Translation costs in care cases ‘depend on circumstances’

family law

Responsibility for translation costs in care cases depends on circumstances and and cannot be subject to a rigid formula, the Court of Appeal has declared.

The case of Z (A Child) concerned Polish parents, who live in an eastern European country and cannot speak English. In order to allow them to participate in care proceedings concerning their daughter, 13 year-old ‘D’,  a considerable quantity of court documents required translation, at a total cost of £14,120.

At an earlier hearing, His Honour Judge Simon Oliver had ruled that these costs should be paid by the side which had relied on the original documents  in their case: this case the local authority.

The local authority in question, Reading Borough Council, later became aware that another judge, Her Honour Judge Lynn Roberts, had reached a difterent conclusion regarding responsibility for translation costs: that the party in the case which requires the translations should pay. The authority threfore applied to change Judge Oliver’s ruling. He dismissed their application but did allow the authority to pusue the ability

At the Court of Appeal, Lady Justice Macur explained that the circumstances of each case was the crucial factor.

“To deal with an issue of translation costs devoid of context does not connote a reasonable exercise of judicial discretion. Whilst the promulgation of a court’s usual practice on the question creates certainty and may save some court time it could also lead to unfair demands upon either public (local authority and legal aid) or private financial resources.”

Read the ruling here.

Photo by Joshua Brown via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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Brian - April 22, 2017 at 6:26pm

Why don’t LA’s have a DJ on the books instead of clogging up the service for the public? It’ll be like a lawyer on a retainer except you can actually act on his judgment. All the perks of the job in that he can do as he pleases. Call it the National Court for Local Authorities, next tear High Court. it seems local authorities always have some sort of litigation going on so why not have one they can pay for and throw bundles in front of. Ideal scenario for a civil servant.

Henrietta Coker - May 4, 2017 at 7:17am

There are perhaps wider issues here ,like how to support migrant parents. A disproportionate number of children from migrant home are involved in childcare law proceedings. Neglect is often cited in threshold criteria, government policy relating to housing, employment rights etc are resulting in an increasing number of people raising children in multi-occupant housing.
As for the translation it is an essential human right for parents to understand what is going on.

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