Dr Sara Dicerto
Academic and research departmentsFaculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Centre for Translation Studies.
This chapter reports the key findings of the European AVIDICUS 3 project,1 which focused on the use of video-mediated interpreting in legal settings across Europe. Whilst judicial and law enforcement authorities have turned to videoconferencing to minimise delays in legal proceedings, reduce costs and improve access to justice, research into the use of video links in legal proceedings has called for caution. Sossin and Yetnikoff (2007), for example, contend that the availability of financial resources for legal proceedings cannot be disentangled from the fairness of judicial decision-making. The Harvard Law School (2009: 1193) warns that, whilst the use of video links may eliminate delays, it may also reduce an individual’s “opportunity to be heard in a meaningful manner”. In proceedings that involve an interpreter, procedural fairness and “the opportunity to be heard in a meaningful manner” are closely linked to the quality of the interpretation. The use of video links in interpreter-mediated proceedings therefore requires a videoconferencing solution that provides optimal support for interpreting as a crucial prerequisite for achieving the ultimate goal, i.e. fairness of justice. Against this backdrop, the main aim of AVIDICUS 3 was to identify institutional processes and practices of implementing and using video links in legal proceedings and to assess them in terms of how they accommodate and support bilingual communication mediated through an interpreter. The focus was on spoken-language interpreting. The project examined 12 European jurisdictions (Belgium, Croatia, England and Wales, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Scotland, Spain and Sweden). An ethnographic approach was adopted to identify relevant practices, including site visits, in-depth and mostly in-situ interviews with over 100 representatives from different stakeholder groups, observations of real-life proceedings, and the analysis of a number of policy documents produced in the justice sector. The chapter summarises and systematises the findings from the jurisdictions included in this study. The assessment focuses on the use of videoconferencing in both national and cross-border proceedings, and covers different applications of videoconferencing in the legal system, including its use for links between courts and remote participants (e.g. witnesses, defendants in prison) and its use to access interpreters who work offsite (see Braun 2015; Skinner, Napier & Braun in this volume).