Recommended Standards for Legal Practitioners

Standard 21 – Assessing the need for an interpreter


To ensure that proceedings are conducted fairly and that there is no miscarriage of justice, legal practitioners should ensure an interpreter is provided to parties and witnesses of limited English proficiency.


In determining whether a person requires an interpreter legal practitioners should apply the four-part test for determining the need for an interpreter as outlined in Annexure 4.

Standard 22 – Booking interpreters


To maximise the ability of interpreting services to provide an appropriate interpreter for a particular case, the party seeking to engage the services of the interpreter should give as much notice as possible.


When applying for a hearing date, parties or their legal advisors should draw the availability of the interpreter to the attention of the court or tribunal for the judicial officer to take into account where possible.

Standard 23 – Engaging an interpreter in accordance with these Standards


Parties engaging an interpreter should select interpreters in accordance with Standard 11 of these Standards.

Standard 24 – Briefing interpreters


The legal representatives for a party are to use their best endeavours to ensure that interpreters who are engaged are familiar with, understand and are willing to adopt the Code of Conduct for Interpreters in Legal Proceedings and understand their role as officers of the court or tribunal.


The legal representatives for a party should ensure that interpreters (whether or not engaged by those legal representatives) are appropriately briefed on the nature of the case prior to the commencement of proceedings. The interpreter should be provided with all relevant materials, including those that the interpreter will need to either sight translate or interpret, subject to Standard 26.


An interpreter should be afforded a reasonable amount of time to familiarise themselves with materials that are relevant for the process of interpretation in the particular case.

Standard 25 – Plain English


Legal practitioners should use their best endeavours to use plain English to communicate clearly and coherently during a proceeding. Legal practitioners should speak at a speed and with appropriate pauses so as to facilitate the discharge by the interpreter of their duty to interpret.

Standard 26 – Documents


Legal practitioners should ensure that any document in a language other than English which is to be referred to or tendered into evidence in proceedings has been translated into English or the other language by a NAATI Certified Translator, where available.


Legal practitioners should not require interpreters to sight translate during the course of a hearing without prior notice (“sight unseen”) long, complex or technical documents. Sight unseen translation by interpreters of even simple or short documents should be avoided as far as possible.