By Simmi Choudhary, Modlingua Learning, New Delhi
Interpretation is a thoroughly professional practice. Out of the several varied fields or sectors where Interpreters are required, the legal domain is one that makes use of professionaly trained competent Interpreters.
When it comes to legal cases, clear, precise and accurate communication between the parties involved, is extremely crucial for the outcome of the case. This stands particularly true for legal depositions. A legal deposition is a scenario where the lawyers get a chance to speak to the witnesses before the hearing in the court in front of a judge. Depositions are conducted only for civil cases and normally take place outside the court premises. Depositions also compulsorily take place under an oath. Normally, the purpose of conducting a deposition is to give an opportunity, to both the plaintiff and the defendant, to communicate and understand each other’s positions. At times, the witnesses do not understand and speak the language spoken and understood by the lawyers. Needless to say, in a legal case, it is prudent that the lawyers and the witnesses understand each other’s language, positions, attitudes, disposition, etc. To bridge the language gaps, a professional interpreter is needed for effectively communicating the expressions and information exchanged by the lawyers and the witnesses during the deposition. An experienced and competent Interpreter enables successful and smooth conduct of legal depositions where there is a gap in communication due to the language spoken by the parties involved.
All proceedings during a legal deposition are recorded by professional court reporters. The proceedings are often also recorded on a camera. A court reporter’s job is to put on record, every single word that is uttered during the process, by the lawyers, the witnesses and the interpreter. As the court reporter is also likely to know either the language of the lawyer or the witness, the interpreter’s presence is equally beneficial for him/her too. It makes it easy for the court reporter to take down the complete record of the proceedings.
Following the prescribed guidelines for Interpreters during Court or Deposition Interpreting certainly makes the task at hand easier, smoother and more effective. Some of the ground rules, to be taken into consideration by professional Interpreters durng legal depositions, are:
1. It is an absolute must to possess near native mastery over both the languages to be used during the interpretation.
2. You should have undergone appropriate professional training in consecutive interpreting.
3. Make sure that you are sworn under oath before beginning to interpret.
4. The ability to rely on one’s memory really helps.
5. You should be thoroughly prepared before the actual deposition begins. A prior briefing or meeting with the client to understand the case, points of law, names of individuals, places, companies, figures and amounts, exhibit numbers and any other details involved in the case.
6. Precision is the key to successful interpreting experience during a legal deposition. You should take care to make no deletions or expansions in the originally spoken content.
7. It is a must to maintain complete confidentiality and upholding ethical standards while and after interpreting at a deposition.
8. Never get inclined towards any particular side in the course of the deposition, however genuine or victimized they may appear. It is a must to remain neutral during rendering your duties.
9. Your ability to understand and effectively convey the emotions along with the words spoken during the deposition without letting it impact your professional interpreting skills, will make you stand apart as a professional interpreter.
10. No direct response or reply is to be given to witness during the on record proceedings. A small chit chat is permissible during the breaks.
11 Do not hesitate to ask the speakers to repeat any inaudible names or words as and when required.
12. You might be made a scapegoat. Do not take it personally. There may be frequent objections to the translation by the opposing side’s lawyers, a usual tactic used to delay the proceedings and hence the outcome of the case.
With suitable professional training, an indomitable spirit to excel in one’s job and keeping in mind the above information, an Interpreter will certainly be able to successfully handle legal interpretation assignments. Happy Interpreting !!!