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Basic and Further Training and Development of Legal Translators and

Court Interpreters

Work of legal interpreters and translators is very demanding. It seems obvious that they
must have profound knowledge of both, foreign language(s) and their mother one, legal
terminology and syntactical patterns of the professional language used by legal
professionals, deep understanding of legal systems and proceedings relevant for their
working languages, rhetoric skills, ability to apply the relevant interpretation techniques
as well as to cope with stressful situations. Interpreters and translators should seek
continuing professional education and continuously develop their skills.
Interpreting before courts and authorities and translations for such institutions is
continuously undergoing many changes arising from gradual improvement of legal
awareness of recipients of the services of court translators and interpreters, and also
from generally increased requirements regarding judicial proceedings and quality of
interpreting and translating in the course of them.
As there is no educational institution specializing in education of legal translators and
interpreters in the Czech Republic, the Chamber of Court Interpreters and Translators is
trying to fill in this gap by offering specialization courses in cooperation with its
partners mainly universities and other specialized institutions. The Chamber organizes
various seminars, meetings, briefings and trainings for interpreters and translators.
As a non-political organization, the Chamber participates also in preparing and
negotiating drafts of legal regulations concerning interpreters and translators and their
work, including the formulation of ethical principles of our profession.

PhDr. Ilona prcov, Chamber of Court Appointed Interpreters and Translators of the
Czech Republic

Generally, all interpreters and translators must have - first and foremost - profound
knowledge of the foreign language or languages they work with, as well as that of their
mother language. They must possess the ability to analyse messages stated, and to express
them using the means of the other language. They must make sure that the recipient of the
translated text understands it, and thereby they build the bridge between the two cultures.
They must be able to apply relevant interpretation and translation techniques.
In respect of interpretation techniques, the court interpreters must be able of quick
switching between consecutive and simultaneous interpreting chuchotage, as needed in the
course of legal proceedings. Court interpreters and translators must be skilled in legal
terminology and syntactical patterns of professional language used by lawyers. They must
also have deep understanding of legal systems and proceedings in the countries of their
working languages (including domestic ones),must be able to explain differences between the
two systems and their legal regulations, as well as terms used, and must reflect all that in their
translations/interpretations. In addition, court interpreters must get used to usually very
stressful situations and difficult working conditions at the courtrooms, police stations, in car
accidents, when coming into contact with people injured etc. They must accommodate
themselves to such situations (often complicated also by the low level of language knowledge
by persons involved especially foreigners from third countries speaking English or French).
Interpreting and translating activity is constantly evolving, and therefore, it is
necessary (and not only for the legal translators and court interpreters) not to sleep away this
development. It is absolutely fundamental to renew, improve and complement knowledge and
skills continuously through all their professional life. The aim is to increase professionalism.
Unfortunately, there is no educational institution systematically preparing its graduates
for the profession of legal interpreter or translator in the Czech Republic. There are some
attempts to include this topic to the curriculums of some universities. For instance Palacky
University in the city of Olomouc has included 1 semester subject called Basics of legal
translation. But that is really insufficient. That is why this role of educational institutions must
be substituted by the activities of our Chamber.
The Chamber of Court Interpreters and Translators of the Czech Republic exists
already 17th year. It associates active court interpreters and translators, who want to educate
themselves, to improve their skills, and to be informed about what is new and what is
happening in our field of work, namely by exchanging and sharing their knowledge and
experience. The chamber facilitates continuing professional development. We offer training
courses and cooperate closely with universities to ensure professionally focused trainings of
the highest quality. Representatives of the Chamber also participate in discussing the legal
rules relating to our profession, which are under preparation within the legislation process.
Besides other things, our Chamber is perceived as the guarantor of the professional
competence of its members: The Chamber approaches specialists from various legal
disciplines as well as other fields, for instance finances, economics etc., and in cooperation
with them we organize specialized seminars, courses and debates for our members. We also
organize courses for interpreters and translators who want to become court or sworn
interpreters serving the needs of courts, prosecutors, police and other official institutions.
The Chamber initiated two-terms Complementary study for legal interpreters and translator,
which has been running for already 15 years. Through its CHAT-group running on internet,
our members can also exchange their experience and consult professional matters and
terminology problems they face in their work.
Regular terminology seminars and specialized workshops have already long-term
tradition. Since the beginning of the existence of the Chamber, three or four days seminars of
English and German are held once per year. The German ones are organized in partnership
with the Czech-German Fund for Future, which also makes the financial contribution to their
organization. Other language seminars (the other than German and English) have the form of
one-day seminars. Seminars of the following languages are held quite regularly: English,
German, Russian, Italian, French, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian and Ukrainian.

Already mentioned Complementary study for legal translators has still the highest
quality out of all courses provided. The courses are run by JURIDIKUM, Institute for
Lifelong Education of Lawyers at the Faculty of Law of the Charles University, in
cooperation with our Chamber, and the head of languages department of the Faculty of Law is
the professional guarantor of the courses.
The study programme comprises two parts:
Its part A is intended for all translators and interpreters of all languages who do not
have legal education its in Czech, and allows them to get acquainted with the basics of
various legal disciplines, such as penal law, civil law, commercial and corporate law, family
law, law of inheritance etc.
Part B is closely related to the content of the part A. It is regularly running only in
English and German languages, in Russian and French depending on the demand and number
of students enrolled.
The lectures and seminars are running on Friday afternoons and weekends.
Similar courses have been also initiated by the Faculty of Law at the Masaryks
University in Brno the second largest city of the Czech Republic three years ago, and are
popular mostly among those who are from more distant regions, for whom it would be
difficult to come to Prague every week.

For already several years, the Chamber has organized courses for applicants willing to
become court/sworn interpreters and translators. Passing these courses is required by regional
courts which appoint the sworn interpreters and translators, and register them in the list of
authorized persons published by the Ministry of Justice.
The content of the courses comprises: legal arrangements, qualification requirements,
nomination process as well as practical matters related to performance of this profession and
supervision of our work. We are explaining mainly practical issues related to court
interpreting and official certified translations, formalities to be observed when performing the
function of court interpreter/translator, especially the elements and essentials of written
certified translations, duties and obligations of an interpreter in the court proceedings, etc.

Besides the terminology seminars, the Chamber organizes other courses aimed at
increase of our proficiency. Czech language seminars have been organized regularly in
cooperation with The Institute of the Czech Language of the Academy of Sciences of the
Czech Republic. Then, there are seminars in speech culture, etiquette and similar ones
contributing to high level of our discourses, and also courses helping translators to be well
versed in the tools which can help them in their work.
We are lucky to have good partners, in particular already mentioned Faculty of Law of
the Charles University, Institute of Translatology of the Charles University the institution
educating professional interpreters and translators, recently also Faculty of Law of Masaryks
University in Brno city.
At this occasion, our very good cooperation with other organizations and institutions
need to be mentioned, too. As an example I can mention: Judicial Academy (by the way, the
last year conference and EULITA General Assembly took place in Judicial Academy
premises), the Czech Chamber of Sign Language Interpreters, the Union of Interpreters and
Translators, the Association of Forensic Experts, the Language School with Accreditation for
State Language Examinations, Czech branch of Dante Alighieri Society promoting Italian
language and culture in the world, and others.
As many of you already know, for already several years we have been striving for the
adoption of a new Act regulating the activity of sworn interpreters and translators. The
Ministry of Justice has already adopted unified criteria for appointment of new court/sworn
interpreters and translators, where the following requirements are stated:
- university level education in interpreting or translations, or philology
- if the applicant has not graduated philology or translation studies, then university level
of education and State Language Exam in interpreting or translations which is the
highest level of language qualification in the Czech Republic is required
- Then, for those applicants who do not have legal education, completion of the
Complementary Course for legal translators at the Faculty of Law, which I have
already mentioned,
- 5 years of active practice in interpreting or translations.
In the frame of negotiating the new draft of the Act regulating the activity of sworn
interpreters and translators, we strive for implementation of the mandatory system of
continuous education according to which all court/sworn translators and interpreters will
have to pass a certain number of training hours per year and to obtain certain number of
Those of you who participated in this spring conference organized by APCI in London
know that in spring we were very optimistic in respect of the possible adoption of our new
piece of law. We were very close to it. In June the Ministry presented its articulated version
for the consultation procedure to the draft bill. And then The government has been forced to
resign. All the legislature process has been stopped. Now we have a temporary government
and the new elections will be held in October. Who will be the future Minister of Justice and
what will be his/her approach to our profession and our problems that is a big question
mark. We are afraid we shall need to start all the process of negotiations from the beginning.
We believe that when one day we achieve this goal, that will assure continuing
professional development of our members and will lead to significant improvement in the
quality of our work.
But legal interpreters and translators are facing challenges all the time. Interpreting
before courts and other authorities, as well as translation work for courts and other authorities,
is undergoing many changes arising from gradual improvement of legal awareness of our
service recipients, and also from generally increased requirements as regards the course of
judicial proceedings and quality of interpreting and translating there. Last, but not least, the
new technologies must be taken into account, and the translators and interpreters must learn
how to use them, in particular the translators need to master the tools for computer aided
translation, and the interpreters - interpreting via videoconferencing or similar media.
In January 2014 a new Civil Code shall come into effect. It introduces enormous
quantity of new law terms into our legal system, and we will have to cope with them. That is
why, in cooperation with Judicial Academy the institution involved in continuous education
of judges and court officials, the Chamber organized intensive week-long terminology courses
focusing on new terminology. Two in English and German, one in French and one in Russian.
Nevertheless, application of the new terminology in practice will be a great challenge for us.