Translating and interpreting

Some of your clients may need to use an interpreter or have correspondence and documents translated into their native language.

Our register of interpreters gives information about suppliers who have contacted us and agreed to do translating and/or interpreting work at the rates published below. Please note that inclusion on the register does not imply endorsement by us.

Please contact Charlene Mason, on 0131 240 2052 or by email, if you need more information or have any queries after reading this guidance.

Registering as an interpreter

Please complete the form below if you would like to register as an interpreter.

Guidance on using an interpreter/translator

  • Payment rates and calculating time engaged

    We will pay up to £30 per hour for interpreters. No additional sums will be paid for bookings at short notice, for work done out with normal business hours or 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.


    • Client A seen for 35 minutes = £30
    • 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.

    • If five 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.


  • Waiting time

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

    If your 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 the solicitor is late, for example because previous appointments have overrun, then we should not be charged waiting time by the interpreter.

    You are responsible for waiting costs incurred in these circumstances and 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.

    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), including out of pocket expenses e.g. petrol costs or bus fares. 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.

    All work should be undertaken with due regard to economy and the interpreter’s time should be managed to minimise costs. If more than one client is seen in the location on the same day, any chargeable travelling time and transport costs should be equally apportioned with the number of clients seen.

    Where possible interpreters local to the assignment should be used. Where an interpreting firm has branches throughout the country, the work should be performed by the branch nearest to the location of the work.

    It is not appropriate to charge travel from a more distant location if the interpreter was on business in another part of the country, thereby passing on travelling costs to other assignments. When assessing an invoice with travel in excess of 60 miles, we will look for the nearest branch office and calculate the travel costs from that office.

    However we recognise that there will be situations where this may not be possible due to the availability and location of interpreters. In these situations we will take a pragmatic approach and consider the circumstances.

    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), irrespective of the mode of transport used, we will pay the most economic method of travel, taking 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. For example, journeys of 100 miles will attract payment for the full 100 miles, not for the 40 miles in excess of the minimum distance.

    Where public transport is appropriate, it 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.

    Out of pocket petrol costs will be paid for car journeys. This cost should be apportioned equally between all clients seen.

    For ease of calculation we use HMRC advisory fuel rates which represents the fuel costs only. You can view these on their website. HMRC's website is updated every six months 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


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

  • Arrangements for Dungavel

    Visits to Dungavel generally involve minimal waiting time before being able to see the clients. 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.

    For example, if there is 15 minutes of waiting time and the meeting with the first client lasts 30 minutes then this time is included within the first hour.

    No charge can be made for interpreters during the lunch period where no meetings are permitted by Dungavel or for the periods either side of lunch where no business is being done.

    No waiting time can be claimed for waiting for a lift if the interpreter is leaving Dungavel with you.

  • Cancellation fees

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

    We will not pay for last minute cancellations that have been caused by you. In such circumstances you should expect to meet any cost billed by the interpreter.

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

    A fee will be paid for the time spent waiting (up to a maximum of one hour) if your first client fails to turn up but other meetings are scheduled at the same location. However if any of the other scheduled meetings take place earlier due to the cancellation, we will only pay for the actual time spent waiting, which is 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.

  • Translations

    We will pay £95 per 1000 words for translating documents, which is inclusive of the proof reading. The cost is applied pro rata against the document word count.

    For example, a document of 700 words would cost £66.50 (or 9.5p per word).

    For documents of less than 300 words, a minimum charge of £28.50 will generally be allowed. For “formal” documents such as marriage and birth certificates where there is minimal information to translate in each document and where there are multiple documents to be translated, we would expect the £28.50 charge to cover all marriage and birth certificates.

    When calculating the fee payable we will have regard for the type of document translated, particularly where there are a number of documents with minimal words to be translated.

    No additional charge will be allowed for proof reading the translated document or the administration associated in typing the translation or counting the words. This is subsumed into the cost of the translation.

    Competitive quotes should be obtained for any lengthy documents costing in excess of £2,000 and prior sanction should be sought from us before the work is instructed.

    We will not pay for the translation of routine letters to clients as we pay for interpreters to attend meetings with the client. The interpreter or the client can note down important details, for example court dates, bail conditions etc in their own language during the meeting.

    It should not be necessary to have complaints, petitions, indictments or any other court documents translated on behalf of the client as the relevant issues can be discussed at the meetings in the presence of the interpreter. However if this is deemed to be essential a request should be made to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service as it is their responsibility to meet the cost of the translation of documents issued by them. This would also apply to the disclosure package, tapes and transcripts.

  • Transcribing

    When it is necessary to transcribe a recording, for example in situations where there is a dispute about what was said at an interview, only the relevant parts of the recording need to be transcribed rather than the whole recording.

    The cost of transcribing will be based on the normal hourly rate of £30. Both the duration of the recording and the time taken to transcribe should be clearly noted by the interpreter.

  • Invoices

    We have provided a pro-forma invoice for the interpreter to use so that the information provided is consistent and sufficient for assessment purposes.

    It is recommended that this form be used. You and the interpreter are required to certify that the information in the invoice is accurate.

    Agencies can use their existing invoicing arrangements but should attach the signed pro-forma completed at your office or a copy of their own timesheet.

    If an interpreter is not prepared to accept the terms and conditions required by us then they should normally not be employed.

    The contractual and invoicing arrangements will continue to be between you and the supplier.

    Payment of an interpreter’s fee should be made within a reasonable timescale, subject to the agreement you make with the interpreter/translator. Reimbursement of outlays can be made under advice and assistance subject to the current qualifying rules. Proof of actual payment in the form of a receipted voucher is required before reimbursement can be made under advice and assistance.

    If there is any doubt about the fees claimed, for example, if you are unclear whether any charges comply with these guidelines, the invoice should not be paid in advance of the account being assessed by us.

  • Attendance at police stations

    We would normally expect the police to provide an interpreter to interview the client if required.

    It should not be necessary to instruct an interpreter to attend the police station on behalf of your client, incurring an unnecessary additional cost to the taxpayer, except in unusual circumstances. Where this applies, any charge for interpreting at a police station will need to be justified at the accounts stage.

    For attendance at a police station between the hours of 10pm and 7am, we will pay for a taxi or use of a private car without reference to the 60 mile threshold.

    No enhanced hourly rates will be paid for the interviews and travelling time will be paid at the rate of £15 per hour.

Register as an interpreter