Court refuses application to cross-examine translators of witness statements

The defendant applied for permission to cross examine 11 translators who have translated the witness statements of the claimants. The purpose of the application was said to be so that the defendant and the court can understand the process by which the documents were created and make a judgment as to the reliability and accuracy of the documents in portraying the true account of the witness.

The claimants' lead solicitors had planned to prepare English statements first, checking the accuracy of the document by reading the English version back to the witness in the witness's own language and then correcting errors in the English version. As no native language statement had been taken from the witness, the claimants and defendant then agreed that checking the accuracy of the statement with the witness and producing a native version statement and correcting any errors in the English version was the most appropriate way to proceed.

Stewart J held that there was no entitlement of the defendant to cross-examine the translators under CPR r32. That rule allowed only a witness to be cross-examined. That rule does not require or permit a translator to file a witness statement.

Nor should permission be granted pursuant to the court's general management powers. Although the translators had not given their occupations, the name of their firm or, if they are employed, the name of their employer (as required by PD 32), those requirements could be met now, so there was no need to allow cross-examination instead. Furthermore, any discrepancies could have been put to the claimants when they gave their evidence.

The application was therefore refused.