In your language: Legal advice for non-English speakers

In your language: Legal advice for non-English speakers

The law is complicated enough without a language barrier. Using a properly trained interpreter will always make your legal journey easier.

You need to be fully informed about your rights and options. If you speak a language other than English, it is important that you seek help from a trained interpreter.

Often, non-English speaking clients want to bring an English speaking family member or friend to act as interpreter at their first free appointment. Although we appreciate that this would put the client at ease, we are reluctant to allow this role be fulfilled by a family member or friend for a number of reasons.

When you tell your lawyer how you became injured, you need to be open, honest and clear. There have been occasions where sometimes clients are reluctant to share their full story in front of a family member as they may feel that they are being a burden. If their family is interpreting for them, this creates difficulties. Additionally, if your story is misunderstood or not relayed correctly, the meaning changes and your lawyer may not hear the facts accurately. Also, your lawyer will have to judge whether or not the family member or friend is too involved in the case. If they are, this could cause offence and family issues.

A friend who offers to interpret for you may not be aware of all of the legal issues affecting your case. If your friend is hearing advice for the first time, it is unlikely they will be able to properly repeat it. Accredited interpreters expect to deal with legal terms and have experience in relaying advice. They are usually offered targeted education and training and are in the best position to support you during the legal process.

Often interpreters can be organised by the firm or service giving you advice. In situations where you have to pay for an interpreter yourself, you can be confident it will save you money and stress in the long-term because trained interpreters will foresee issues and avoid confusion and inefficiency. Going through your story properly the first time with an interpreter will save you repeating it in the future or having a lawyer act on your behalf when they do not properly understand your story.

If you are not receiving clear legal advice that you can understand, there is little point receiving it at all. To get help in your own language, you can call Legal Help on 1300 792 387 Monday to Friday from 8:45am until 5:15pm and ask for an interpreter.

If you have been injured at work, in a transport accident or because of the fault of another, contact Adviceline Injury Lawyers on (03) 9321 9988 and we will arrange an appointment with a personal injury lawyer and an interpreter.

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