The use of interpreters in court


  • John Carroll Australian Government



lnterpreter, court, ESL, immigrant, tribunal, Australia.


Given the large number of Australians who speak English as a second language one would expect there to be significant use of interpreters in Australian courts. However there is a marked difference in the use of interpreters between different courts and tribunals, and overall usage appears to be very low. The reasons for the low level of usage in some jurisdictions appears to relate nor only to the law on whether to allow access to interpreters, bur also to the beliefs and attitudes of participants in the legal process, particularly the belief that a court will find it more difficult to assess the credibility of witnesses and to ascertain the truth if an interpreter is used. Greater attention is needed to ensure that witnesses can understand and be understood when giving evidence in Court.

Author Biography

John Carroll, Australian Government

JOHN CARROLL is a Canberra-based lawyer who was involved in the Attorney General's Department report on Access to Interpreters in the Legal System. He has practised as a lawyer with the private legal profession, a community legal centre and with the Australian Government.



How to Cite

Carroll, J. (2013). The use of interpreters in court. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 2(1), 65–73.