Make a complaint about interpreter services

If you’re unhappy or concerned about the standard of service, conduct or actions of an interpreter providing services at court or tribunal hearings, you can make a complaint.

Complaints are treated confidentially and respectfully through a fair and transparent process. Your complaint will be considered using our complaints process and you’ll be kept informed throughout.

Express dissatisfaction and make a complaint

Making a complaint

You can make a complaint in person at the court to a Service Manager or Case Flow Manager, or at the tribunal to the referee or adjudicator. They’ll try to resolve the matter with you straight away.

If the matter can't be resolved immediately, or you want to make a formal complaint, you’ll need to put your complaint into writing and send it to us:

Central Registry

If you have trouble understanding English, the following services can help you:

  • The Department of Internal Affairs offers a translation service. For help, either:

Phone: 0800 872 675, or
Write: at PO Box 805, Wellington 6140.

  • Ezispeak is a telephone-based interpreting service. It's used by many government agencies, some doctors and city councils. Visit the Ezispeak website at: link)
Phone: 0800 453 771

Complaints should be made within one month of the incident that caused you dissatisfaction. You’ll need to include the following information with your complaint:

  • Your first and last name (including your company or agency’s name if relevant)
  • Your contact details, including your email and postal address (phone number is optional)
  • The name of the interpreter you’re complaining about, if you know it
  • The date and place (court or tribunal) of the interpreter booking
  • Case number, if you know it
  • The details of your complaint. Please include your account of what happened, why you’re dissatisfied or concerned about it, and any other relevant information.

Request to share complaint details

To resolve the complaint, we may also need to share details of the complaint with the interpreter and their agency, so they have an opportunity to respond. This is important so we can carry out a fair process.

When you make your complaint, please tell us if you agree to us sharing the details of your complaint so we can investigate your complaint further.

Make a complaint about an interpreter under the Guidelines for Interpreters

A complaint made about an interpreter under the Guidelines for Interpreters can be one of the following:

  • 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.

 Read the Guidelines for Interpreters

What happens when a formal complaint is received

You’ll receive an acknowledgment confirming that we’ve received your complaint.

In the first instance, we’ll consider whether it’s possible to resolve the matter with you straight away.

If it isn’t possible, we’ll investigate your complaint and contact you if we need more information. You can expect a response within 20 working days from the date we received your complaint.

If we need more information or the matter you’ve raised is very detailed or complex, we might need more time to make a decision. If we do need more time, we’ll let you know.

To resolve the complaint, we’ll:

  • confirm the facts of the complaint to verify the circumstances (for example, time, place, case parties, interpreter name)
  • make contact with the interpreter being complained about, or the agency that provided the interpreter, to share the complaint and provide an opportunity to give their view of events
  • review the complaint and supporting correspondence to resolve the complaint, and take any further action where needed. In many cases, an exchange of information between the parties will be enough to resolve the complaint. However, in other cases, other actions may be required – for example, a review of the quality of interpretation by a third-party interpreter may be necessary.

We may make the following decisions about a complaint:

  • Reject the complaint on the grounds that there is not enough evidence to show that the interpreter has done wrong or has not followed the Guidelines for Interpreters
  • Accept the complaint but take no remedial action against the interpreter. For example, this may be because the interpreter was providing services under difficult or unusual circumstances and did their best to provide an acceptable service
  • Accept the complaint and take any of the following actions:
    • Remove the interpreter or the agency from our Ministry’s list of interpreters
    • Issue a written warning to the interpreter or the agency that future complaints may result in the removal of their name
    • Take any other appropriate actions to resolve the complaint.

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

Note: Where an interpreter is booked through a Language Service Provider to provide their services, the Language Service Provider will be contacted about the complaint and kept informed throughout the investigation.

Outcome of the complaint

We'll send the final decision about the complaint to the parties involved – that is, the interpreter, their Language Service Provider (if applicable), and the complainant.

If you're unhappy with the outcome of your complaint

Apply for a review of a complaint outcome

If you’re the complainant or interpreter being complained about and you’re unhappy with the complaint outcome, you may request a review.

A request for a review of a complaint outcome should be made within 20 working days of the date of the outcome of the complaint.

The review will be considered by someone different from the original complaint handler to ensure that an independent review is carried out. The purpose of the review is not to carry out a new investigation, but to review the original investigation and decision. The review may confirm, change or reverse the original decision.

Make a complaint to the Ombudsman

If you’re unhappy with our decision regarding your complaint, you have the right to raise your concerns with the Ombudsman.

Office of the Ombudsman contact details:

Freephone: 0800 802 602

Postal address:
PO Box 10152
Wellington 6143

The Ombudsman can consider complaints about the administrative acts and decisions of state sector agencies. The Ombudsman will ask you if you have first tried to resolve the matter with us directly and will consider whether you have any other remedy available.

The Ombudsman may consider your complaint and make a recommendation to us about the concern(s) you’ve raised.

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