Press Release
16 June 2010

The European Parliament has approved new legal standards to ensure that people facing criminal charges in any EU country will be able to understand what is happening both inside and outside the courtroom.

The new rules are designed to ensure that people cannot face criminal proceedings in a foreign language without having access to an interpreter and translations of the key documents in the case.

Once in force, the rules will apply in cases in which British citizens face criminal proceedings in other EU member states.

North East MEP Stephen Hughes,  welcomed the agreement: "At present the support given to people in these circumstances varies widely across Europe.

"It means that in some cases defendants are unable to access key documents in a language they understand, or are not able to follow the proceedings in court.

"Whatever the background of the case, if someone is subject to criminal charges it is imperative that they properly understand what is happening to them.

"A miscarriage of justice is far more likely if a defendant is unable to make sense of what they are being accused of or what evidence is being used against them."

The agreement between the EU member states and the European Parliament was formally adopted by MEPs in Strasbourg today. EU governments will now have three years in which to amend their legal systems to comply with the rules.


Stephen Hughes added: "In some cases the lack of interpretation means that defendants are not even able to communicate effectively with their own lawyer, never mind the prosecution.


"This is a fundamental principle. You can't allow open and fair justice to be lost in translation."




For more information please call Cyndi Beaver on: 07764198400.