Legal Language Interpreters and Legal Document Translators - Another Look at Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, LTD

April 4, 2012

Compensation for court document translations, as mentioned in a previous legal translation blog post, and the Supreme Court's decision in Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, LTD will have far reaching effects. Let's take a closer look at what's at stake.

At issue is whether the 'compensation of interpreters' clause in 28 USC sec. 1920(6) should be read to allow courts to award translation fees for both written and verbal language interpretations.

Increased Costs

According to the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAIIT), a decision that allows both would 'substantially increase the potential liability for losing parties'. "While verbal interpretations have natural time and expense limits, no such limits exist for written translations," it says. More so, this would require courts to assess whether the costs were reasonably incurred and the rate at which the party should be repaid - a lengthy and costly process.

A Chilling Effect

In light of potentially increased costs, it can be argued that parties will be discouraged from filing meritorious suits out of a fear of having to pay for large document translation expenses. However, this could be a negative outcome for non-English speakers and immigrants, who are more likely to bring suits requiring foreign language translations. Stay tuned for more information.

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