Bookings & what to expect

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Interpreter bookings and travel

Booking request and travel arrangements

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) manages the booking and payment of interpreters for all courts and tribunals, except the Māori Land Court and Waitangi Tribunal.

CPU also makes any travel and accommodation arrangements. You should tell CPU if you have special travel requirements when you tell CPU that you’re available for a hearing.

Booking confirmation

When CPU is told that an interpreter is available for a hearing, they send a confirmation email. CPU will attach an itinerary to the email if you have requested special travel requirements.

What to do if a booking confirmation is not received

Contact CPU if the hearing is 3 days away (or less) and you haven’t received a confirmation email. You should contact CPU at any time if you’ve misplaced your documents.

Email: interpreters@justice.govt.nz quoting the case reference number and party names.

Phone: 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) within 48 hours of the hearing for any urgent requests or questions about a booking.

Bookings for the Immigration & Protection Tribunal

The process for booking an interpreter for both hearings and teleconferences in the Immigration & Protection Tribunal (IPT) differs slightly, in order to meet the specific needs of the tribunal.

Case managers from IPT will continue to use the list of interpreters supplied to the Ministry by the Refugee Status Branch of Immigration New Zealand, to identify an interpreter. This list is private and is not published by the Ministry.

A case manager from IPT will contact the interpreter to check their availability. The case manager will also undertake a conflict of interest check with the interpreter.

CPU will email a booking confirmation to the interpreter. This will include a copy of the Guidelines and Code of Ethics specific to the IPT.

Minimum payment of 3 hours

For interpreter assignments paid by the Ministry, you will be paid for a minimum of 3 hours for attending a court or tribunal hearing, unless otherwise agreed. There may be instances in which you are engaged for additional hearings within the 3 hour time period while attending court. If this occurs no additional payment will be made.

If the total time you are at court supporting hearings is over 3 hours, then payment will be made for the extra time worked. For example, if the first hearing took 2 hours and the second hearing 3 hours, you will be paid for 5 hours in total. 

Name suppression

The confirmation letter you receive may say ‘Name Suppressed’.

A suppression order means there are restrictions on publication of certain details which may be either as a result of a statutory prohibition or judicial order restricting publication. The suppression order can apply to the defendant or another party in the case such as the victim.

You must keep all details relating to a case confidential, but should be particularly careful if there is a suppression order.   

You may face legal action, including a fine or imprisonment, if you breach a suppression order by disclosing any of the suppressed details.

Update your contact details

You can update your contact details by emailing CPU.

Email: interpreters@justice.govt.nz

If you’re interpreting for the Immigration & Protection Tribunal, you can update your contact details by contacting the Refugee Status Branch of Immigration New Zealand (MBIE) (external link)

Use of your contact details

The Ministry holds a national list of interpreters and interpreter agencies. This list contains an interpreter’s name, email, language(s) spoken, and the court area the interpreter works in.

The national list is provided to the following groups on request:

  • people wanting an interpreter for a court or tribunal hearing who do not qualify for a Ministry-paid interpreter. The list may be provided directly to a party or their lawyer.
  • third-party service providers who may need an interpreter.

CPU will provide a list of interpreters located in the area where the court or tribunal hearing is to be heard. If no interpreter is available in the local area, interpreters from other areas will be included.

If you don’t want your contact details to appear on the national list, you can tell us by email.

Email:  interpreters@justice.govt.nz

What to do on the day of the hearing

Where to go

Make sure you arrive on time, before the hearing. The confirmation email will have all the details, including the date, time and location. Most tribunal hearings are held at the local District Court.

Find a court

Parking near some courts is limited so make sure you have enough time to find a park.

What to do if you’re running late or can no longer attend

Call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) as soon as you become aware you’ll be late or can’t attend.

Check the location of the hearing and start time on arrival

Bring the confirmation email with you and go to the main public counter on arrival at the court. Sometimes the hearing room and start time can change on the day. Court staff will help you find the hearing room and tell you about any changes.

Security in courts and tribunals

The Ministry has staff on hand to ensure the personal safety of people who attend court. You can talk to a Ministry staff member (either security or court staff) on the day of the hearing about any safety concerns you may have.

Alternatively, you can raise any safety concerns by emailing us and quoting the case reference number.

Email: interpreters@justice.govt.nz

If urgent, you should call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) and ask to speak to the case manager for the court or tribunal hearing.

Submitting invoices and timesheets

You need to complete and submit an invoice and timesheet after a hearing.

You must sign your timesheet and have it approved by court staff after the hearing has finished.

Read more about how to submit an invoice and timesheet

What to expect in the hearing room

Terminology used in a court or hearing

Most courts and tribunals use specific words and language (terminology).

Glossary of frequently used words and terms

The interpreter’s oath or affirmation

A witness giving evidence in a court or tribunal hearing is asked to swear an oath or make an affirmation first. If you are assisting a witness, you will also be asked to swear an oath or make an affirmation.

By swearing an oath or making an affirmation you are making a promise that your interpretation of the evidence is true and correct. You commit perjury and may face criminal charges if you knowingly make a false oath or affirmation.

An oath is a declaration made using a religious book or administered in a way which the person giving the oath declares to be binding on them. An affirmation is an alternative declaration, for people who do not want to take a religious oath.

The court registrar administers the oath or affirmation and this will be done for you first, as you will be required to interpret the oath or affirmation for the witness. The registrar will read the appropriate script for the oath or affirmation. You will be required to indicate assent to the oath or affirmation.

Type of interpretation in a court or tribunal hearing

Interpreters usually provide consecutive interpretation rather than simultaneous interpretation in New Zealand courts and tribunals.

Consecutive interpretation means the speaker pauses at the end of each segment to allow the interpreter to repeat that segment in the second language. Simultaneous interpretation is when the interpreter interprets as the speaker speaks. The speaker does not stop at regular intervals; this allows arguments to flow as they would if the interpreter were not there.

Simultaneous interpretation is not used very often in New Zealand because it requires recording equipment that courts and tribunals do not have. However, the presiding officer may sometimes request it, such as for a lawyer’s opening or closing address or the judge’s summing up. Where simultaneous interpretation is to occur the court will set up the necessary equipment, or give you the material to be interpreted in advance.

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