FAQ

Dear Colleagues, a number of questions concerning various points in the EULITA Constitution were raised at the launch conference in Antwerp last November. The EULITA Project Team and the EULITA Executive Committee have addressed these issues and are offering their answers below.

Why does EULITA use the term “legal interpreters and translators”?

Our intention was to cover not only interpreters and translators working at courts but all interpreters and translators working in a legal context, i.e. at police interviews, in court proceedings, asylum procedures, in lawyer-client consultations, in post-trial measures, etc. Moreover, in the course of the last decade the terms “legal interpreter” and “legal translator” have been used in various EU projects (e.g. Agis, Grotius) dealing with interpreters and translators working in these various settings and found their way into various DG JLS and EU Council documents such as the Green Paper or the proposed Framework Decision on procedural safeguards in criminal proceedings, or the Reflection Forum report on (legal) interpreter training commissioned by DG Interpretation. It therefore appeared quite logical to continue this practice with the EULITA project. Moreover, the practice in EU member states differs to such an extent – one uses e.g. sworn, court, certified, authorized, specialized interpreters/translators, to cite only those (also the FIT Committee uses “court interpreters and legal translator” in one and the same phrase) – that a single straightforward term referring to the comprehensive context of the legal settings seemed called for. We will provide a detailed definition of the concept of “legal interpreters and translators” on the EULITA website, so as to avoid any misunderstandings, especially among those translating or interpreting legal texts but not being translators and interpreters working in a judicial context. In time it will even be possible to adopt a definition of the concept which then, by amendment, can be incorporated in the EULITA Constitution, at the first General Assembly of EULITA, which will be held in a year’s time, if the EULITA members feel any need for it. Alternatively, it can simply be made part of the Internal Regulations.

Why can non-EU-based associations join EULITA?

It is common EU practice that EU-associated countries (Norway, Switzerland or Iceland, for example) or countries in the process of joining the EU (e.g. Croatia, Albania, etc.) can join EU-based associations in one form or another. Moreover, the interest expressed by overseas associations (e.g. NAJIT, USA) shows that EULITA should also open itself to such members and benefit from the exchange of experience with different parts of the world.

Why can individual persons become members of EULITA?

As there are currently several EU member states where legal interpreters and translators can only join EULITA as individuals, in the absence of associations of (legal) interpreters and translators, the EULITA Project Team and the EULITA Executive Committee feel that this is a possibility to foster association-building. Experience will show whether there is a need to be more specific in defining the admission criteria for individual members.

Why would non-translation or non-interpreting associations want to join EULITA?

Unlike in other settings in which associations generally function, the EU bodies expect EULITA to play an active role in the practical implementation of the future EU Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings, where major efforts will be required to cooperate with the other stakeholders in the judicial field (e.g. judges, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers, etc.). The conference accompanying the launch of EULITA last November also showed that police authorities, asylum authorities, judges, lawyers and criminal bar associations want to cooperate with legal interpreters and translators in order to improve mutual understanding and consequently the quality of the services provided by legal interpreters and translators.

How can the training of legal translators and interpreters be “attested, certified or accredited”?

As there are different judicial systems in EU member states, the criteria for becoming a legal interpreter and translator also differ from country to country. The national systems for “certification” or “accreditation” will naturally serve as the point of reference when examining applications for membership. EULITA will certainly not impose any system of training upon any country or association. It will, however, recommend model curricula for the training of legal interpreters and translators in order to assist in the raising of quality standards for legal interpreting and translation.

How will EULITA take action to support the interests of legal translators and interpreters visà- vis national organizations and institutions”?

Article 2.3. of the EULITA Constitution states as a specific goal of EULITA that it will “support the interests and concerns of national associations of legal interpreters and translators and represent the interests and concerns of the profession of legal interpreters and translators vis-àvis European and international organizations and institutions.” This does not mean that EULITA intends to bypass or interfere with any national efforts by associations of legal interpreters and translators. On the contrary, EULITA will always be ready to support legal interpreters and translators on a national level if requested for assistance vis-à-vis national authorities by national associations or by individual members in EU member states where such associations as yet do not exist.

Does EULITA want to eventually present itself as the only body representing the field of legal translation and interpreting?

The full members of EULITA are the national or regional associations of legal interpreters and translators in EU member states. They approve the work of the Executive Committee in the annual General Assembly. This means that they control the direction in which the association develops. EULITA’s Mission Statement defines very clearly that the association does not intend to strive to obtain any “dominating” position in the field of legal interpreting and translation. It should also be borne in mind that EULITA has been set up as a “not-for-profit association” (aisbl) under Belgian law, which precludes any involvement in commercial activities.