Today I would like to offer you the first part of a report about a conference held on Thursday 4 April 2013, at London Metropolitan University in the UK to launch the European project QUALETRA – Quality in Legal Translation.
The aim was to bring all relevant stakeholders together to discuss the content of the project. The conference was attended by practitioners and trainers of legal translation, as well as representatives from the legal profession, academics, and national translators’ associations from several countries.
As usual with my conference reports, this is a personal view of the event, and space unfortunately does not allow me to cover absolutely everything. However, I will do my best to give you a flavour.
First of all, I should say that the conference was extremely well attended. This may be related to the recent scandal in the UK about the outsourcing of court interpreting (see this article I wrote for the RELINE newsletter n° 7, pages 2-3). The Qualetra project is, however, to be devoted solely to written translation, unlike other EU projects mainly focused on interpreting, such as TRAFUT, QUALITAS, ImPLI, Aequilibrium, AVIDICUS, AGIS and GROTIUS.
Hendrik J. Kockaert, Qualetra Coordinator at the University of Leuven, Belgium gave us some background to the project – in particular the increase in EU criminal proceedings involving non-nationals, giving rise to heightened translation needs, and the impetus given by the parts relating to written translation of Directive 2010/64/EU on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings.
He emphasized the importance of bringing together legal and translation practitioners.
The project focuses on the development of curricula, assessment procedures and certification and accreditation strategies in order to improve the training of legal translators, and will also develop models for legal practitioners to interact efficiently with legal translation.
There are a number of Workstream Objectives, including:
- Essential Documents – building up a collection of document types listed in the Directive, defining indicators, terminology, and templates
- European Arrest Warrant – studying the warrant as a special case, cooperating with lawyers, defining indicators and terminology
- Training – core curricula and training materials for legal translators, and for the language training of legal practitioners
- Testing, Evaluation and Assessment – procedures & materials for legal translations specifically for criminal proceedings; EU-wide recommendations and best practices for such procedures & materials, particularly with a view to the creation of European registers of legal translators.
Project partners are composed of universities – all members of the network of European Master’s in Translation (EMT) – and the Conférence internationale permanente d’instituts universitaires de traducteurs et interprètes (CIUTI); the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and the European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA) to enhance cooperation with legal practitioners; the European Legal Interpreters and Translators Association (EULITA); as well as some external experts.
Identifying written translation in criminal proceedings as a separate right: scope and supervision under European law
James Brannan, European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, France
Mr Brannan, a lawyer-linguist, started by noting that rights to language assistance have often neglected written translation in favour of interpreting, and that in particular translated documents have been replaced by oral explanations.
He gave some examples from human rights case law, of a complexity test being used to assess the need for translation, issues relating to the number of case documents translated, and of defendants’ rights to translation being denied or insufficiently fulfilled. Mr Brannan concluded by stressing the importance of ensuring that the “oral exception” is not abused.
Quality in legal translation: a dual approach from the Polish perspective
Michal Hara, Ministry of Justice, Poland
Mr Hara presented the Polish dual approach to ensuring high quality of legal translation – firstly by provisions on access to translation in the Code of Criminal Procedure, and secondly by the organization of the sworn translation profession. Some key points of interest that I noted were that the courts are required to appoint sufficiently skilled persons as legal translators, wherever possible cases are handled by a single translator to preserve consistency, and an entry exam regulating entry to the profession. Mr Hara closed by stating that the provision of context will make the difference between a “good enough and a great translation”.
Quality assurance in multilingual legal terminological databases: the LISE Term Tools
Elena Chiocchetti & Tanja Wissik, European Academy Bolzano & University of Vienna
After an introduction to issues in legal terminology, the speakers described the LISE project which aims to improve the interoperability of existing termbases, and to spot flaws (such as doubling up of terms, inconsistencies, and gaps). The process consists of cleaning a database, adding terms, review, and approval. There are three tools: Cleanup, OMEO (that finds similar entries), and Fillup. They are currently being tested on the IATE termbase. You can find out more about the project here: http://lise-termservices.eu/
Part 2 of this report can be found here.