INTERPRETER FEES UNDER THE STANDARD CIVIL CONTRACT 2018
Back in September 2018, we advised as to the requirements required by the LAA in respect of the instruction and use of interpreters in legally aided cases. Now that we have been given the opportunity to see the practicalities of the rules over the last 4 months, we now write to reinforce the guidance as to the payment of interpreter fees for qualified or non-qualified interpreters under the new Standard Civil Contract 2018, including providing a sample confirmation file note for either yourselves to certify or an agency.
Under paras 2.47-2.51 of the new Contract Specification, providers must now use interpreters with qualifications listed in para 2.48 (see list below) and under para 2.49 and a note must be placed on each client’s case file confirming that the interpreter of the agency through which they are supplied or independent interpreter holds such a qualification, and which qualification it is.
With our experience from working with providers, we would advise that you use and complete the template, as set out below, each time you use an interpreter as certification that the interpreter complies with the rules. This applies whether you have instructed an interpreter yourself or whether you have instructed an agency, in which case you would get them to complete the form, if they do not already have something similar.
The form should be on headed papers (either your firms or the agency that certifies the qualifications of their interpreter) and a copy of the interpreter’s qualification should be attached also.
A non-qualified interpreter can be used in exceptional circumstances and a non-exhaustive list of exceptional circumstances is listed under para 2.50.
(a) Where it would cause undue delay and/or increased costs (above the prescribed rates);
(b) Where the client requests an interpreter of a specific gender and such request cannot reasonably be accommodated otherwise than by the use of a non-qualified interpreter (e.g. where the client has been a victim of domestic violence);
(c) Where there is a rare language or dialect which cannot reasonably be accommodated otherwise than by the use of a non-qualified interpreter;
(d) Where there is an emergency requirement which cannot reasonably be accommodated otherwise than by the use of a non-qualified interpreter;
(e) Where you have contacted three interpreters who meet the qualification requirements specified in Paragraph 2.48 above and none are willing or available as required
This is a non-exhaustive list.
A file note must be prepared setting out the exceptional circumstances which exist and a clear explanation as to why it was necessary and appropriate in the circumstances for an alternative non-qualified interpreter to be selected.
We all know that the LAA make incredibly difficult already and make providers jump through hoops to get paid, however if you follow all the advice identified above, then you will give yourself the best chance of getting paid by the LAA as you are in compliance with the rules as set out in the Standard Civil Contract 2018.
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