The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Ask for a Court Interpreter

Getting an Interpreter at a Court

As a rule, people with language barriers can get an interpreter at a court or a tribunal hearing. Find out how to ask for an interpreter, who qualifies, and when a friend or family member can be your translator.

USING AN INTERPRETER: In most cases, there is no charge to use an interpreter at a court or tribunal in the United Kingdom.

There are no translator fees in most civil and family courts. HMCTS cover the costs of using interpreters for deaf or hearing-impaired litigants.

The court can arrange for you to use an interpreter if you need one. They will always provide one for people who are deaf or hearing-impaired (hard of hearing).

But, there are restrictions on when your interpreter can translate speech orally. Usually, they only interpret evidence submitted during a hearing.

Note: It would not be uncommon to have legal discussions translated before or after a hearing. But, the judge must grant permission it before it happens.

Using Welsh Language Interpreters in Court

Any party can choose to speak or to write in Welsh in legal proceedings in Wales. This is according to the Welsh Language Act 1993. If you want to speak Welsh in a court in Wales you should be able to get an interpreter.

You would need to contact the court or tribunal that is handling your case and ask for an interpreter. All the court forms and leaflets are available in Welsh language.

If You Do Not Speak or Understand English

The United Kingdom rules of court do not always grant you someone to translate what you say. But, you can usually get an interpreter if you cannot understand English language. As a rule, it would depend on:

Note: In some cases, you can use a friend or a family member to act as your interpreter. But, you must get the judge's permission before the hearing. The friend or the relative should have a recognised qualification in relaying information.

At Civil Courts

You will get an interpreter if the case involves a possession of property or land. An example would be if you are getting evicted by your landlord. The same applies for a committal case (e.g. you broke a court order and may go to prison). But, to get one in other cases at a civil court, all these must apply:

At Family Courts

The court will provide an interpreter if the case involves children, domestic violence, or a forced marriage. You may still qualify if the case does not, providing all these apply:

In a Tribunal

You may need to ask for an interpreter when filling in the appeal form for most tribunals. An alternative method is to contact your local tribunal office before the hearing takes place.

At Criminal Courts

You would have an interpreter provided for you as the defendant at a criminal court. You can contact the court where the hearing will take place to confirm it.

If you are testifying in court as a defence witness you should ask the defence solicitor to arrange translation.

The prosecuting agency will arrange it you if you are giving evidence in court as a prosecution witness. You would need to contact them to set it up before the hearing goes ahead.

Asking for an Interpreter at a Court or Tribunal in the United Kingdom