Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.

Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


This blogger usually reports facts, incidents, experiences, is known to criticise organisations and occasionally offers opinions.  I write this post to ask a question in the hope that my reader can offer an answer, the more authoritative the better. 

On February 6th I posted inter alia that our L/A advised (told) us that if a defendant`s lawyer considered that his/her client required an interpreter the bench had no authority to intervene to make its own inquiry of whether that was indeed the case.  When our court has a four month delay in fixing dates for DV matters owing to the need to have screens (available only in three courtrooms) and the case in question had taken about six months from the first complaint  the bench had concerns that any further delay might encourage the defendant to influence the complainant despite strict bail conditions. We were effectively silenced.  Earlier this week I mentioned his colleague`s advice as above to another of our legal advisors.  He was surprised.  According to his reading of a situation of that ilk a bench is perfectly entitled to question a potential witness or defendant (as I have done on previous occasions) to make its decision as to his/her competence to understand sufficient English language to be able to follow the occasional legalise used in court.   So, dear reader, if you can shine some light on this matter I would be most grateful.


  1. I find it difficult to imagine a situation where a defence solicitor would advise of a need to for an interpreter and the Court would not accept that. It seems unlikely that requesting an interpreter has any great advantage for the solicitor or client unless it is helpful to a fair understanding of the proceedings. I would expect all sorts of Article 6 issues if you refused a defendant translation. Even where someone manages day-to-day life without interpretation that is rather different from understanding, the often complex, language used in Court. (Indeed there can be issues even for native English speakers in knowing what is going on).

    From experience it is more likely that a delay to the trial occurs when a future Bench decides the defendant is unable to fairly follow the proceedings than because of the effort of booking an interpreter with 4 months notice!

    Of course if you were genuinely concerned that the accused was likely to interfere with justice whilst awaiting trial, or would have a problem understanding the bail conditions (pending an interpreter) then you could have remanded him!

    1. Perhaps I wasn clear enough ; the request for interpreter was on morning of trial and all witnesses were present.