We’ve heard lots of opinion recently about the court interpreting contract fiasco, from all sides – here’s what we think.

In our opinion, the court interpreting contract between the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Applied Language Solutions (ALS) was doomed to fail from the start. But this does not mean that the motivation behind the contract agreement was wrong, or that it cannot be salvaged.

Echoing the comments of Labour justice spokesman Andy Slaughter last week, we are baffled that the contract was even awarded after the displays of vehement opposition from the interpreting community towards pilot schemes that took place last year. Without the backing of the Professional Interpreters Alliance (PIA) and its members, ALS did not stand a chance of meeting the contract requirements as the selection of qualified, experienced interpreters to choose from has been severely depleted.

We’ve heard stories of interpreters being used in court that haven’t even been assessed or vetted, and interpreters turning up late to tribunal hearings or not even turning up at all. This is all obviously very worrying, but we should maintain some sympathy for ALS. The benefits of outsourcing interpreting services was, and still is, there for all to see: automatic allocations, consecutive assignments, a single pricing matrix and one point of contact. But did interpreters get a fair deal in terms of pay and protection of their industry? Absolutely not.

In the current economic climate, nobody can argue that savings of £60m over five years isn’t an inherently good thing. However, questions must be asked immediately of both the MoJ and ALS before the contract turns into an expensive mess that the taxpayer will be forced to clean up after. Transcription Global feel the only option on the table is for both sides to enter into serious dialogue and essentially dissolve the current framework, looking to design a solution that balances quality against cost. By using a single supplier service, you eradicate competition for payment to qualified interpreters. Capitalism between suppliers can reduce expenditure yet maintain high standards of pay for qualified personnel.

We want to hear your opinion.