Once upon a time there was… the MoJ and Applied Language Solutions. A modern-day saga

If you are an interpreter in the UK and you do not live in a cave, you must have heard at least once of this. I won’t bore all of you with the particulars, but as it’s my custom, I’ll try to do so by entertaining you a little.

Once upon a time, the unaware Royal Family of Albion, our far-from-fairy-tale-esque land (the Ministry of Justice or MoJ), thought they were doing the right thing for the motherland giving their support to a well-disguised (at least for them), self-professed-hero evil villain (Applied Language Solution, a LSP based in the UK). Firmly they believed the latter was the only way for them to sort out their never-ending problems with the erroneously so-called ‘cruel thieves’ of the realm, aka: DPSI interpreters. Little the Royals knew that their alleged saviour was in fact the above-mentioned evil villain and that he would ruin the only good there was left for the poor country, exploit unqualified interpreters and humiliate the professionals, leaving the system in a chaos. DPSI interpreters would finally not be willing to take anymore of this cr**p and would stage an uprise in order to make the Royal Family realise the unforgivable mistake they had made, in a challenge to save the world (to be continued)…

Obviously, we all know the MoJ was wrong, there is no such thing as interpreters with 6-digit-figure salaries and last time I checked none of them was driving a Maserati or renting villas in Barbados for the Easter break. Similarly, not all that glitters is gold and that is true all the more for Appl. Lang. Sol. – we would tend to think that the people ruling the country should know better than letting themselves be fooled around like this.

On one of the several professional e-groups and forums I am a member of, I have found a nicely drafted summary on the press coverage for the now referred to as the MoJ-Appl.Lang.Sol.*** saga, compiled by Klasiena P. Slaney (@NRPSInterpreter) who is more than happy for me to share it here. Of course, this is by no means all the material out there, so feel free to share any you may have found.

Here is the Framework Agreement signed with Appl. Lang. Sol. in August 2011. Press coverage in the UK supported by protests from judges, lawyers and interpreters.

    •    24/03/12: New courts service lost in translation
    •    23/03/12: “Court chaos as interpreter service goes private” (Video, Channel 4)
    •    19/03/12: “Attorney general urged to take action against ALS, which was awarded court interpretation monopoly, after string of delays ” (The Guardian)
    •    15/03/12: Polish interpreter about working with police / courts – the new unacceptable conditions in the UK. “Violent clients, traumatised victims, late payment – the life of a court interpreter. Very few people know what the job of a professional court interpreter involves. ALS is trying to get it done on the cheap ” (The Guardian)
    •    15/03/12: Private court interpretation company ‘should face contempt proceedings’  (The Guardian)
    •    15/03/12: “Protests at Westminster” (BBC) – Note: BBC should know better, but they call us ‘court translators’ O_o
    •    11/03/12: “Rabbit registers as court interpreter in the UK! ” (News Today)
    •    02/03/12: “Interpreters stay away from courts in protest at privatised contract” (Guardian)
    •    02/03/12: Prime-time news: Watch this report from evening news on Channel 4  for an damning summary of the disaster so far.
    •    23/2/12: “The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has decided to allow courts to revert to the old system of selecting interpreters from the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) in order to avoid further hearings being adjourned as a result of interpreters from a new agency failing to turn up to court .” (thelawyer.com)
Monika Kokoszycka also published a very comprehensive report on AIIC’s Interpreting the World Facebook page:
    •    Part I  (posted 15.12.11):
    •    Part II  (posted on 25.02.12)

An insightful complement to the facts linked to above is available in this blog post, dated 22 March 2012 by Miguel Llorens, a financial translator (@miguelllorens).

Well, we all like fairytales, don’t we?

The only issue here is that, while fairytales usually have a happy ending (and – sooner or later – that always comes round) this is more of a saga and notoriously, all sagas have more than one episode.

So, at this point, I’m asking myself with a bit of concern: ‘Will Dart Vader (Appl. Lang. Sol.) and its empire strike back?

We shall stay tuned…

*** I have taken extra care in spelling in full the acronym ALS as Appl. Lang. Solutions as ALS is actually a trademark of a US based company (@ALSINTL) who showed its concern to me on Twitter recently and should rightfully be kept out of this mess. Thanks.

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About Val

London-based Rainy London Translations is offering a full range of top quality interpreting, localisation, translation, consultancy and voice-overservices for both businesses and individuals. Need something else? Just ask! It may sound like a cliché, but just get in touch: what you need can be done, at a reasonable price. Valeria is also offering a 'branding' clinic service, to help freelancers find their perfect business name or polish the existing identity by finding a logo, a tagline with sound creative consultancy. Based in the City of Westminster area, the heart of London, UK, since August 2011.

One response to “Once upon a time there was… the MoJ and Applied Language Solutions. A modern-day saga

  1. Valeria Aliperta

    VitekSteve: Thanks! I’ll have a look and see why that’s not working!

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