On 31 July, the amendments to the Civil Procedure Law that reduces the obligation of the state to ensure mandatory free assistance of an interpreter in the court to all natural persons involved in civil proceedings entered into force. The state will provide an interpreter only to those natural persons, who receive state’s provided legal aid or are exempted from legal costs.

For the party who does not know the language of the case (official language of the state concerned), there will be an obligation to provide an interpreter at the hearing and in proceedings, for instance, access to documents in the case. There will also be an obligation to provide an interpreter for experts or witnesses summoned upon his/her request, if any of them are not proficient in the language of the case. The party should also seek to ascertain the competence and ability of an interpreter to translate during the court proceedings.

The costs for an interpreter at the hearing are the expenses necessarily incurred for the purposes of proceedings that are reimbursed by the losing party. The costs are eligible only in those cases, if the party has submitted the documentation to the court that attests the payment of services provided by an interpreter. Expenses for interpretation services at its actual cost can be demanded from the unsuccessful party. These expenses cannot exceed base rate fixed by the Cabinet of Ministers.

The court will be able to refuse the reimbursement of costs of an interpreter at the hearing related to proceedings, if, at the discretion of the court, the assistance of an interpreter has not been needed, because the party, decided in favor for expenditures, is proficient in the language of the case.

So the parties cannot use the absence of an interpreter as an opportunity to achieve the postponement of proceedings, the amendments to the Civil Procedure Law provides that the court will be able to suspend the proceedings only if an interpreter does not attend the hearing for a reason the court recognizes as justifiable.

The state will continue to provide an assistance of interpreter to those natural persons, who are not proficient in the language of the case (official language of the state concerned) or receive state’s provided legal aid. The persons will be exempted from the costs of interpreter according to certain categories of cases, for instance, in the cases of maintenance claim and labor dispute. The services of an interpreter will also not be subject to any payment, even if, the court has taken an individual decision to exempt the natural person from legal costs concerning his/her financial situation.

 

Information prepared by

Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: 67020396, 28652211