Complain about an interpreter

Find out about the complaints procedure, and how to make a complaint about an interpreter.

Breach of the Guidelines for Interpreters, or other duties

The complaints procedure sets out a process for managing, investigating and adjudicating on an alleged breach of the Guidelines for Interpreters, or an interpreter’s general duties.

Read the Guidelines for Interpreters

A complaint must be based on at least 1 of the following types of breaches by an interpreter:

  • professional misconduct in carrying out their duties
  • demonstrated failure to abide by the Guidelines for Interpreters
  • other failure to carry out duties responsibly and competently
  • putting the credibility of the Ministry of Justice, a court or a tribunal at risk.

Timeframe for making a complaint

A written complaint must be emailed to us within 1 month of the incident giving rise to the alleged breach. Only complaints received in writing will be dealt with.


Making a complaint

The complaint must include:

  • complainant’s name and contact details
  • interpreter’s name if known
  • date and place of the interpreting job
  • a description of complaint.

Process once a complaint is received

We take the following actions when a complaint is received:

  • acknowledge receipt of the complaint and, in the first instance, encourage managers at the court to resolve the complaint locally if possible
  • confirm the facts of the complaint to substantiate the circumstance (for example, time, place, case parties, interpreter name)
  • write to the interpreter or the agency which provided the interpreter summarising the complaint and inviting comment
  • decide what further action, if any, is needed. In many cases an exchange of information between the parties will be enough to resolve the complaint.

The further action may include, but is not limited to, any of the following:

  • reject the complaint on the grounds that there is not enough evidence to show that the interpreter has breached the Guidelines and therefore the complaint is unfounded
  • accept the complaint but take no disciplinary action against the interpreter, for example, if the interpreter was functioning under difficult or unusual circumstances and did their best to provide an acceptable service
  • accept the complaint and inform the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI) of the Ministry’s intention to either:
    • remove the interpreter or the agency from our list of interpreters
    • issue a written warning to the interpreter or the agency that future complaints may result in the removal of their name
    • where relevant, recommend that NZSTI revoke the relevant interpreter’s membership or take such other disciplinary action as NZSTI considers appropriate.

If an interpreter or an agency is removed from the Ministry list, we may require that they undergo specific training for interpreting in the courts and tribunals to the satisfaction of the Ministry before being reinstated.

Outcome of the complaint

We'll send their final decision to the interpreter and complainant.

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