The outsourcing giant contracted to provide court interpreting services has been ordered to pay costs to a local authority over ‘serial failures’ in a family case.
Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division, ordered Capita Translation and Interpreting to pay Kent County Council (pictured) the sum of £13,338.15 within seven days in respect of costs of hearings on 7 May and 14 November 2014.
Munby was forced to adjourn a final adoption hearing on 7 May after no one attended to translate for Slovak-speaking parents.
In an approved judgment published yesterday, Munby said two interpreters had been booked on 14 April, but at 2pm on 6 May the court was informed by Capita TI that no interpreters were available for the hearing.
‘This was done by an automatically generated email which included the words “we apologise for any inconvenience caused” – a banal and formulaic statement hardly reflecting the fact that a failure to provide interpreters, particular in a case such as this, causes much more than “inconvenience” to all concerned, not least to the anxious parents,’ he said.
Munby said there had been ‘serial failures by Capita in this case against a background of wider systemic problems’.
‘In this case, the failures… were… not minor but extensive, and, at two different stages of the litigation, they had a profound effect on the conduct of proceedings.’
However, Munby emphasised that he was not saying Capita should automatically be blamed each time an interpreter fails to turn up.
‘Nor am I to be understood as suggesting that Capita will be liable for each and every failure to provide a Slovak interpreter, lamentable though its failures to provide such interpreters were in this particular case and, seemingly, more generally. Everything will depend upon the precise circumstances of the particular case.’
Munby refused permission for Capita TI to appeal.
A spokesperson for Capita TI said: ‘The service provided by this contract continues to improve, is robust and provides value for money. The rate of complaints remains very low, at 1.7% for July to September 2014 (the latest published figures) out of 38,100 jobs fulfilled.
‘It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on this particular case due to ongoing legal processes.’