Code of Ethics | KST ČR

This Code of Ethics summarizes the most important duties and rights of a court interpreter/translator – KST ČR member.
The position of a court interpreter/translator is characterized by his high social, legal, and moral responsibility. Affixing his official seal to the act performed by him, the court interpreter participates directly in responsibilities related to official acts, including issuance of public documents. The court interpreter/translator participates, in a binding manner, in legal acts of individuals and corporate entities.
Due to stated facts, the court interpreter/translator– a member of KST ČR – observes valid laws and regulations strictly and accurately, and undertakes to observe also the principles stated in this Code.

The terms stated below have the following meaning in this Code of Ethics:
Court interpreter means an interpreter/translator appointed by the minister of justice for a particular language (languages) (after satisfying all requirements imposed by the respective legislation), and duly registered in a central register of interpreters.
Ordering person means a police body, public prosecutor, judge, public body, notary, attorney, agency or another individual or corporate entity.

The court interpreter should observe commensurateness of accepted orders in respect of his professional knowledge, extent and terms which the court interpreter is able to fulfil according to his best belief and knowledge. The court interpreter shall immediately notify the ordering person that he is not able to meet the requested term in full quality and extent, and shall agree upon reasonable and acceptable terms with him. Late refusal of performing the act is possible only on the grounds of serious reasons (illness, injury, accident, etc.). In such a case an interpreter shall apologize immediately, and possibly secure a substitute court interpreter, but only with consent of the ordering person.

The court interpreter is obliged to perform, or execute the requested act himself and its assigning to other interpreters, no matter of what reasons, is inadmissible. This has to be differentiated from a case when the court interpreter revises a translation made by another translator (court or public one).

The court interpreter shall execute the act in the highest possible quality, and that as regards both proficiency and language. The interpreting or translation must correspond accurately with the speech being interpreted, or text being translated. It is inadmissible to leave or omit anything, or to add anything arbitrarily, except for so called notes of a translator (attached in brackets), which are necessary for correct understanding of the meaning of the translated text.

The court interpreter must be reliable when observing agreed terms, as well as punctual. He shall come to the agreed place well in advance.

Performing of tasks, to which the court interpreter is not authorized (e.g. an act from or to language he is not licensed/registered for by a competent court, authentication of copies or signatures, etc.), or tasks which are in contradiction with law or good manners, is inadmissible.

Due preparation of the court interpreter is necessary for securing high quality of interpreting or translation; such preparation may comprise inspecting files or acquiring information about the pending case, studying basic documents for hearings, collecting specialized terminology based on a possible consultation with an expert, etc.

Verbal utterance of the interpreter in the target language shall be intelligible and should truly reproduce the content and expressions of the utterance which is interpreted or translated by him.

Continuously, during interpreting, the interpreter must check that the person to whom he interprets understands what is being interpreted to him. If it is evident that a client does not understand for example given context, it is up the interpreter to turn attention of an ordering person to such circumstance. The ordering person should explain any lack of clarity in order to ensure the quality of the act.

The interpreter must observe the principle of independence and impartiality, and shall not allow anybody to determine how to interpret the spoken pronouncement, or how to translate. The court interpreter refrains from contacting the parties of the proceeding in any way except for performance of the act itself. This relates namely to court proceedings, pre-trial proceedings etc.  

Dignified appearance and decency, when interpreting, means also suitable outfit and tidy appearance. Any peculiarities in speech as well as in external appearance and clothes are inadmissible. Similarly, it is impossible to intervene into the hearings or proceedings with own ideas or interrupting somebody´s speech, however, the interpreter has the right to request to have possibility of interpreting shorter sections of the given speech during consecutive interpretation.

The interpreter must observe the principle of confidentiality and secrecy. The interpreter is not allowed to disclose the course and contents of the meeting or negotiations to any third party, and must not use the information obtained during interpreting to his/her benefit.

The court translator must pay attention to protection of documents, which were given to him for executing a certified translation, in particular as concerns their loss, or damage. He also prevents the documents falling into foreign hands or being misused in any way.  

Written act shall have perfect form, preferably corresponding to the form of the translated document, there should be no typing errors, or grammar mistakes; the used means of expressions should correspond to legal terminology of the target language, and should be generally understandable in conformity with logic.

The interpreter should notify the ordering person about mistakes and imperfections in the source text – in particular of official nature – and shall not correct them himself.

The court interpreter should have fellow feeling with other court interpreters, and does not use unfair competition against them e.g. by offering his work for unreasonable low prices in order to attract clients.

When setting his contractual remuneration, the interpreter shall proceed in accordance with the rate usual at place and time. When calculating his remuneration pursuant to the Act on Court Experts and Interpreters the court interpreter shall proceed in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Act given above, and in accordance with the implementing decree. He can also base his statement of cost on  existing relevant judgements of higher courts and event. other judicial acts which KST ČR makes available  to him within its resources.

The court interpreter must constantly improve his qualification, and that not only in the relevant language, but also in related qualification fields, such as knowledge of legal environment of areas in which the language he interprets or translates into is used.  Keeping his general knowledge and reach is a matter of fact for a court interpreter. Only well-educated and well-informed interpreter may execute perfect interpretation or translation.

Settlement of complaints about court interpreters

The aim of settlement of complaints is not to punish a court interpreter but to draw attention to his improper acting and motivate him to remedial work.
KST ČR deals only with complaints about court interpreters who are its members. In case of a complaint about a non-member court interpreter the complaint is submitted to the regional court in the region of which the court interpreter is registered.
Complaints may be of language as well as non-language nature (such as breach of the principles of independence and impartiality), and may be filed by third persons or by other court interpreters.
Complaints shall be solved by a three-member disciplinary board (appointed ad hoc from the members of the KST CR Board and Supervisory Board) that shall proceed neutrally and with maximum confidentiality. The court interpreter has to have opportunity to express himself to the complaint in writing or eventually also orally before the disciplinary board. In case of a language-nature complaint which may not be assessed by the disciplinary board, an external consultant, i.e. a person or body with correspondent language knowledge shall be asked for opinion.
The person against whom the complaint was directed as well as the person who filed it shall be notified of the assessment result.  KST CR By-laws shall be followed in case of stated breach of duties.

Rights of a court interpreter

1. Court interpreter has right to ask for creating conditions needed for duly execution of his activity, such as familiarisation with files or facts related to his activity, reasonable time limit for translation etc.
2.  When conditions set are met and with consent of the ordering person the court interpreter has right to request a consultant if a certain part of the ordered act is outside his knowledge or competence in the given qualification (e.g. narrow specialisation) – see Sec. 10 of the Act on Court Experts and Interpreters.
3.  If it is not complied with his request he is entitled to refuse the execution of the act.
4. Court interpreter has right to a worthy and timely remuneration the payment of which is governed by the rules of procedure in case of execution of acts for public bodies.

The Code of Ethics was approved by the XXI. General Meeting of KST ČR in Prague on
28. February 2015