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Rates for interpreting at a foreign court
Thread poster: Ivana UK

Ivana UK  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:36
Member (2005)
Italian to English
Mar 27, 2007

I am a UK-based interpreter with several years' experience of court interpretation.

A UK agency has recently contacted me in relation to a week-long interpreting assignment for a French court and asked me to provide my rate.

Although used to providing rates for UK courtwork, I have absolutely no idea what to charge for a week abroad.

Obviously the agency will cover standard expenses such as accomodation, travel etc. and a higher than normal daily rate will apply.

What I'm really not clear about is this - for UK assignments I normally live close enough to the venue to travel home at night, however, when abroad I won't have that luxury - so should a further additional premium be added to the daily rate to cover the hours I'm not working (but can't go home)? And if so, what percentage of the daily charge?

If anyone has experience of travelling abroad for interpreting assignments (especially of court interpreting), I would appreciate some guidance!


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Buzzy
Local time: 09:36
French to English
Some questions to ask Mar 27, 2007

Hi Ivana,
I sometimes interpret for the local court here in my small French town, and know a little bit about how court interpreting works in France. I'm a bit puzzled about your assignment and I reckon you ought to find out the following:
- If the job is for a French court, are you sure they won't insist on someone who's "assermenté" in France ? (They might not, or they might be willing to swear you in just for the job, but the courts are supposed to only use people on the official list as far as possible.) Of course, maybe your services are being engaged to help someone follow the case, for example, without direct involvement in the legal proceedings, in which case it's a private job, so no problem.
- IF it's a court job then be aware that the French ministry of justice pays - are you sitting down? - the princely sum of 13.26 euros per hour. Not exactly worth going to France for. Is this the sort of pay your agency is thinking of?
- What about if you get there and then find that the court won't let you do the job because they have called in someone already? Will you be sure to get paid by your client?
By the way, if you're willing, I'd be very interested to have some idea of UK court interpreting rates - so I can keep telling everyone when I next get "called up".
Good luck anyway.


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 14:36
Partial member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Rates for foreign court Mar 28, 2007

In my ppractice, I did quote for
1. Per diem
2. Travel cost and insurance
3. Hourly rate for interpretation in court.
Regards,
Soonthon L.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Seems clear to me Mar 28, 2007

Daily rate (UK; you won't be working hours but days) + per diem roughly based on town's Consumer Price Index(1), with transport and accommodation fully paid.

(1) I have a set average per diem of 100 eu. for out-of-town assignments, but Stockholm is unfortunately not the same as Zaragoza, to give an example. The hourly rate in my town (Madrid) is 50 eu.. I have that from direct Ministry of Justice-Embassy sources.


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Kristaps Otrups
Denmark
Local time: 09:36
English to Latvian
+ ...
This is a reply Mar 28, 2007

Buzzy wrote:

- IF it's a court job then be aware that the French ministry of justice pays - are you sitting down? - the princely sum of 13.26 euros per hour. Not exactly worth going to France for.

Hey, some people pay to go to France!


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Ivana UK  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:36
Member (2005)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the info Buzzy, Mar 28, 2007

Buzzy wrote:

Of course, maybe your services are being engaged to help someone follow the case, for example, without direct involvement in the legal proceedings, in which case it's a private job, so no problem.


You're absolutely right (I should have been clearer!) - I don't know who the end-client is, however I would be providing (wait for it) Italian to English interpretation for the witnesses. I therefore assume that at least part of the proceedings are being conduted in Italian (with French interpreter appointed by the court and IT>EN translator provided by a UK agency).

By the way, if you're willing, I'd be very interested to have some idea of UK court interpreting rates - so I can keep telling everyone when I next get "called up".
Good luck anyway.


UK rates for court interpreting are not as low as in France - although paid by the courts, they're happy to pay out large amounts of money. The actual rate, however, depends entirely on which agency you're working through (as in the UK, courts do not work directly with interpreters but always appoint agencies as middlemen). I've heard of agencies paying as little as £10 for courtwork but I've been quite lucky as the two agencies that supply me court work pay relatively well in comparison (approx. £25/hour of interpreting plus slightly less for each hour of waiting time, plus at least £10 per hour of travel (normally at least a couple of hours travel each way) plus actual travel costs. So if you're in court for 6-7 hours a day for a week, it works out quite well! There is also a minimum interpreting fee of 2 hours (even if you're only in court for 10 mins - in the case of sentencing, for example), plus the standard travel time, waiting time and travel expenses.

This is my experience anyway, although this may differ throughout the UK and from agency to agency.


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Ivana UK  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:36
Member (2005)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Hi and thanks for your reply, Mar 28, 2007

Parrot wrote:

Daily rate (UK; you won't be working hours but days) + per diem roughly based on town's Consumer Price Index(1), with transport and accommodation fully paid.

(1) I have a set average per diem of 100 eu. for out-of-town assignments, but Stockholm is unfortunately not the same as Zaragoza, to give an example. The hourly rate in my town (Madrid) is 50 eu.. I have that from direct Ministry of Justice-Embassy sources.


This is the problem - I don't know the going rate per hour for France - although from what I've heard, interpreting rates in France seem to be higher than those in the UK ...

So the best way to go about this is to charge a a per diem rate (to cover the overnight stay) plus an hourly rate (in line with the town's CPI) to cover actual interpreting/waiting time?

Now all I have to do is find the going rate for France!

Thanks for your help.

Ivana


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hours are moot if you travel Mar 28, 2007

Ivana Micheli wrote:

So the best way to go about this is to charge a a per diem rate (to cover the overnight stay)


The nitty-gritty is, out of town, out of fill-in business. Feel free to charge by the day on the principle of lucrum cessans. (Note that plane travel is not the same as car or train travel if the latter means no overnight).

plus an hourly rate (in line with the town's CPI) to cover actual interpreting/waiting time?


NO. The hourly rate is what the courts pay, but unless the court is paying you, it'll be disastrous to negotiate on the basis of hours. A court will shell out according to its schedules and probably make a few exceptions (rare languages, etc.). But private clients are not bound by those schedules may choose to pay extra for their own reasons.

It's the per diem that adjusts to the CPI. This is the extra money you may need to meet emergencies such as taxis, lunch out and things like that which can be justified with vouchers, either to the client or to the tax authorities. Now, taxi flag-down in my town is about 3 euro, which a London taxi driver may laugh at -- but if I took one in Zaragoza, 3 euro would seem pricey... see the point?

Hope it helps.


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Buzzy
Local time: 09:36
French to English
Thanks for the information on rates for the UK Mar 28, 2007

Very interesting. Spare a thought for whoever's doing the official court interpreting at the case you attend, if you get the job! I'm sorry I can't help you on "real" rates for interpreting in France - try the French forum perhaps ?

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sorry, I should have explained better Mar 29, 2007

Ivana Micheli wrote:

I am a UK-based interpreter with several years' experience of court interpretation.


So you're no beginner. What I'm telling you is that a French court/client would logically choose a local, so you are perfectly entitled to charge UK RATES.

A UK agency has recently contacted me in relation to a week-long interpreting assignment for a French court and asked me to provide my rate.


The equation would be, UK DAY RATE + per diem. It's the per diem you should be researching (given that travel and accommodation go on the client's or agency's tab). If the plane ticket/flights are rigged so that you get home as fast as possible, obviously a half day can't be counted as a whole day, or you won't have overnighters for the last day and no reason for a per diem based on 1/2 day waiting for a plane.

The tricky thing about the per diem is who declares it. If it goes on your invoice, it is an income and you'll need all the vouchers. If it goes on the client's tab, you'll have to turn over the same vouchers to justify the client's expense.

Hope this is clearer.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Addendum on court jobs and "court jobs" Mar 29, 2007

I don't know if this is just in Spain, but we do make a distinction according to jurisdictions and court levels. For example, interpreting in court on account of the municipal police, social services or labour is not going to net as much as interpretation for the "Audiencia", the jurisdiction of which may well be international. The rate I quoted for Madrid is the Audiencia rate as obtained through diplomatic channels.

The difference can spell out a distinction as broad as between traffic violations/custody cases and extradition/environmental crimes in international waters/terrorism. The latter cases do not require the usual "assermenté" interpreters and tend to field in specialists.

Buzzy wrote:

- IF it's a court job then be aware that the French ministry of justice pays - are you sitting down? - the princely sum of 13.26 euros per hour. Not exactly worth going to France for. Is this the sort of pay your agency is thinking of?


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Buzzy
Local time: 09:36
French to English
Glad to hear it Parrot Mar 29, 2007

Parrot wrote:

The difference can spell out a distinction as broad as between traffic violations/custody cases and extradition/environmental crimes in international waters/terrorism. The latter cases do not require the usual "assermenté" interpreters and tend to field in specialists.

[/quote]


I've wondered before how they attract competent, professional interpreters to do really top-level court work and hope a similar distinction applies in France at the upper levels!
I consider myself competent and professional enough for the local builders' disputes, house purchases and car accident work I am sometimes involved in, but am not a trained interpreter and am well aware of the difference in skills and experience required...


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