Legal aid accounts: payment for interpreters

This guidance is applicable to civil, criminal and children’s legal aid.

This section provides details of our terms and conditions and what we will pay interpreters’ for interpreting and translating in legal aid cases.

Payment rate for interpreters

We will pay up to £30 per hour for interpreters.

No additional sums will be paid for:

  • Bookings at short notice
  • Work done out with normal business hours
  • Work under any other special terms and conditions not approved by us

Interpreters will be paid for the actual time engaged, rounded up to the nearest quarter hour, at £7.50 per quarter hour block. However, if the time engaged is less than one hour, we will pay a minimum charge of one hour for work done at the location of an assignment, court or tribunal; whether you are involved in one or a number of matters.


  • (a) Client A seen for 35 minutes = £30
  • (b) Client B seen for 1 hour 10 minutes rounded up to 1 hour 15 minutes = £37.50.

However, if clients A& B are seen at the same location, only the overall time spent can be claimed i.e. 1 hour and 45 minutes with no rounding, which would total £52.50 as opposed to £67.50 when seen at different locations.

(c) If 5 clients are seen at the same location, the payment is for the overall actual time spent at the assignment. For example, if that is 2 hours and 10 minutes, this should be rounded up to 2 hours and fifteen minutes = £67.50.

These rates apply to civil, criminal, children’s, contempt of court proceedings and advice and assistance cases and all are assessed on the same test as to whether the work was actually, necessarily and reasonably done.

Payment for waiting time

Waiting time is subsumed within the minimum charge of one hour.

If the client arrives late and the interpreter has to wait, they will be paid for the time spent at the appointment or from the commencement of the hearing. However, if you are late then we should not be charged waiting time by the interpreter. You should expect to be billed by the interpreter.  However, if you have been held up at court, then consideration will be given to meeting the waiting costs of the interpreter, depending on the circumstances.

Scheduling interpreter meetings

We will look at the time the appointment was due to start when considering the waiting time. All meetings with interpreters should be scheduled, where possible, to ensure that there are no gaps between meetings since, in these circumstances, the interpreter stands to be unremunerated.  Where this is not possible, we will consider the circumstances of how this arose and discuss with the individual firm how, if appropriate, this will be paid. If payment is deemed to be appropriate, a rate of £3.75 will be chargeable per quarter hour block.

Travel and subsistence

The hourly rate for translation and interpreting includes:

  • All travel expenses up to the first 60 miles (round trip)
  • Out of pocket expenses e.g. petrol costs or bus fares

Therefore, no travelling expenses will be paid for an interpreter for a round trip of less than 60 miles to and from the location of the assignment.

Journeys in excess of 60 miles will attract a payment for travelling time and for transport costs as set out below.

You should ensure when employing an interpreter that you:

  • Undertake work with due regard to economy
  • Implement good time management to minimise the interpreter’s costs
  • Equally apportion any chargeable travelling time and transport costs between clients, if more than one client is seen in the location on the same day
  • Use an interpreter local to the assignment, where possible

Where you are using a firm of interpreters, please employ an interpreter from the nearest branch to the assignment. If we are provided with an invoice where travel in excess of 60 miles has been claimed, we will look for the nearest branch office and calculate the travel costs from that office.  We do recognise that there may occasionally be issues with the availability and location of interpreters.  In such situations, we will take this into account.

Travelling time

Any travelling time applicable to journeys in excess of 60 miles (round trip) will be paid at half the hourly rate (£15). Travelling time should be calculated from the contractor’s place of business or the interpreter’s home, whichever is the closest to the place of the assignment.  Travelling time should be apportioned equally between all clients seen.

Transport costs

For trips in excess of 60 miles (round trip), we will:

  • Pay the most economic method of travel
  • Take into account the overall costs of tickets/petrol and of travelling time

The full cost of the journey will be paid regardless of the number of miles.

Public transport

Public transport is paid at standard class rates.  The cost of bus tickets and train fares should be apportioned equally between all clients seen, and vouching should be produced.

Travel by car

For car journeys, out of pocket petrol costs will be paid.

We use HMRC advisory fuel rates, which represents the fuel costs only. You can view these at:

Mileage should be charged in accordance with the published rate applicable at the date the travel was incurred. The website is regularly updated in recognition of the fluctuating fuel costs. The fuel costs are based on a car with an engine up to 1400cc. No additional allowance will be allowed for cars with larger engines.

The following is an example of how travelling time and transport costs would be assessed:

Three clients are seen in the same location; having travelled a total of 150 miles the following would be chargeable:

  • Travelling time: 3 hours and 20 minutes
  • Mileage: 150 miles round trip
  • Train Fare: £30 return
Time/Distance Rate Total Cost Cost per client
Travelling time 3hrs 20 min @ £15/hour £52.50 £17.50
Mileage 150 miles @ 15p/ mile £22.50 £7.50
TOTAL     £75.00 £25.00


Note that, in this example, car travel is the most economic, so is used in preference to the train fare.

Travel costs should always be apportioned equally between all clients seen.

Arrangements for Dungavel

Visits to Dungavel generally involve minimal waiting time. Any waiting time at the start of the day should be charged to the first client seen which is included in the first hour claimed.

No charge can be made for interpreters during:

  • The lunch period where no meetings are permitted by Dungavel
  • The periods either side of lunch where no business is being done

If the interpreter returns with you, no waiting time can be claimed for waiting for a lift.

Interpreters and cancellation fees

A cancellation fee will only be paid if the interpreter was not able to carry out any other work.

You will be directly liable to pay for last minute cancellations, if they have been caused by you.

If the client fails to turn up a cancellation fee will be paid.  A maximum of one hour will be paid unless, of course, other work is undertaken at the same place or location.

Where the first client fails to turn up but other meetings are scheduled at the location of assignment, a fee will be paid for the time spent waiting up to a maximum of one hour. However, if any of the other scheduled meetings takes place earlier due to the cancellation, we will only pay for the actual time spent waiting, the minimum charge of one hour being allocated to the first client actually seen.  If waiting time is chargeable this will be payable at the lower rate of £3.75 per quarter hour.

In this section

Interpreting and translating

Payment for translation services

Find out the rates for interpreter fees are and how they are paid.

Interpreting and translating

Pro-forma invoice for interpreter or translator fees

Find out what the pro-forma invoice should look like and what details the translator/interpreter should typically include.

Interpreting and translating

Interpreter attendance at police stations

Find out who is responsible for providing an interpreter/ translator during a police interview and what we will pay for in special circumstances.