Getting an interpreter

Working with Interpreters in Courts session – 25 May 2024 - Townsville
Queensland Courts will conduct a session about working with interpreters in Courts on 25 May, 2.30pm to 4.00pm, at the 2024 North Queensland Law Association Conference in Townsville.
The practical session will assist lawyers, judicial officers and interpreters by addressing:

Presenters will include Chief Justice Bowskill, Judge Horneman-Wren SC, Deputy Chief Magistrate Gett, Magistrate Balic, Mr Mohamed Bensghir (Senior Registrar), Ms Lynn Geng (NAATI Certified Specialist Legal and Health Interpreter (Mandarin)) and Ms Sumeet Kaur (NAATI Certified Interpreter (Punjabi)).

Queensland Courts is committed to providing open access to justice for all Queenslanders. This information will help if you require an interpreter when engaging with Queensland Courts.

Criminal proceedings

If you require an interpreter in a criminal proceeding, contact the registry in the court where your matter will be dealt with as early as possible. You should make your request in writing.

Court registry staff will engage an interpreter for criminal proceedings—from an approved service provider or other sign language interpreting service—as directed by the court.

Civil proceedings

While the court is responsible for providing an interpreter at the counter, in criminal proceedings, and in domestic and family violence proceedings, this is not the case in civil proceedings.

If you require the services of an interpreter in a civil proceeding, you must engage the interpreter yourself and bear the associated cost.

Domestic and Family Violence proceedings

When you make a Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act application, and indicate that you require an interpreter, the court will arrange an interpreter to be present at the first hearing.

The court, where possible, will have an interpreter available for the urgent application.

Read Magistrates Court Practice Direction 6 of 2017 (PDF, 183.2 KB) for more information about using interpreters in domestic and family violence (civil proceedings) in the Magistrates Court.

At the registry

Registry staff will also use these interpreter services to assist court users who contact or present at a court registry—whether their enquiry is criminal or civil—and either:

  • request the assistance of an interpreter
  • appear to have difficulty communicating in English.

Professional interpreters will be engaged unless unavailable.

The registry or court will, in the above circumstances, bear the cost of engaging the interpreter.

At the counter

If you arrive at the court registry counter and require an interpreter, registry staff will arrange a suitable translating and interpreting service for you. It is helpful to have the language you require written down.

If you are deaf or hearing impaired, registry staff will call Deaf Services Queensland to make an appointment for an interpreter.

Over the phone

If you are deaf, or hearing and/or speech impaired, and have a text telephone (TTY) machine, you can call the registry through the National Relay Service (NRS). This is a free telephone service.

The NRS operator will tell the staff member what you are typing to them and will type any replies for you.