France - traducteur/interprète assermenté
Thread poster: Nikki Scott-Despaigne

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:29
French to English
May 27, 2001

One of my bêtes noires, but perhaps France specific. Becoming a court-approved translator interpreter.

1 - Application process.

This is France, the land of Napoleon\'s administration. Applications to be enrolled on the court list of officially approved translators/interpreters (and any other specialists wishing like approval) are received throughout the year but considered once a year by a particular committee. All applications to be considered at the meeting in January 2001 have to be in by the end of March 2000, I believe. A fresh application has to be made each year if unsuccessful and you still wish to be considered.

Lengthy process, wholly unnecessary as no intention to add particular groups of languages to the lists. Applications are not carried forward to the following year. That said, it is possible to be sworn in (civil & criminal cases) to work on a given case.

2 - The application form itself. (Qualifications and business structure)

Qualifications must be stated, certified copies of certificates provided. The Court which deals with applications in my region asks no question as to professional qualification, experience nor motivation. Nor is there any requirement to indicate what your business set-up is and therefore no requirement with regard to contributions into health and retirement funds nor professional indemnity insurance.

Setting up in France is easy but the minimum retirement, health and other contributions take care of 55% of receipts (pre-income tax). A certain number of those on the current lists have no official business structure and so do not contribute to any funds. As the Court does not enquire into what set up the applicant has, they continue to send work to certain individuals on the lists for whom the monies received represent 100% gain.

3 - Rates.

Civil cases : in the case of civil matters, between private individuals/companies, rates can be freely determined by the translator.

Criminal cases : in criminal cases, rates are determined by statute. In the case of translation, it is per page, whether there are 10 words or 500 words on it, and that rate is barely more than the equivalent of USD 9.50! Yes, nine and a half dollars US.

EDIT NOTE (*Sum edited since first posting where I had stated USD 8 - and still peanuts as one commentator stated!)

The basis for the calculation of the fees (per page) in Criminal cases is unjust and the rates themselves so low that anyone paying the 55% ends up working for less than USD 4 per page net. Could you afford this?

4 - Payment.

Civil cases : generally speedy as state not involved.

Criminal cases : you are not paid until the court has returned its verdict. This can take years.

Your comments would be appreciated, particularly from those of you who are based in other countries where a more realistic system exists.

Please note that in N°2 in particular, I am referring to a minority but who remain significant in number none the less. I am not suggesting either that zillions of translators out there are working on the black market failing to declare income etc. In France, it used to be possible to receive a certain amount of income from certain types of work without having any business structure at all. Some of those on the lists have been there for years and continue to work for the courts without knowing that this possibility was ruled out a number of years ago at a time when new and simplified business structures became available.

[ This Message was edited by: nikscot on 2001-05-27 15:25 ]

[ This Message was edited by: nikscot on 2001-05-28 06:07 ]


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