The government today renewed its efforts to ensure the Welsh language is available in courts and tribunals for whoever needs it.
HM Courts & Tribunals Service is asking the people of Wales in a new consultation whether they are happy with a scheme for ensuring both Welsh and English languages are treated equally.
The consultation reflects on proposed updates to the Welsh language scheme covering HMCTS headquarters in London, central processing centres and all the courts and tribunals in Wales.
Susan Acland-Hood, chief executive of HMCTS, said Welsh speakers should get equal access to the improvements planned through the ongoing investment programme.
‘Addressing people in the right language is fundamental to ensuring that we are able to meet the expectations of Welsh-speaking users of our services,’ she said. ‘No one should have to ask for a service to be provided to them in Welsh – it should be readily accessible by default. Welsh speakers should expect to benefit in just the same way as everyone else from the once-in-a-generation changes that we are making to our service.’
The department states that when developing new policies and procedures or updating currennt ones, it will have full regard to the consequences on the use of the Welsh language. Provision for Welsh language responses will be included on any Ministry of Justice consultation template.
Users of court services in Wales, as well those using a shared service for England and Wales but which is based in England, will be able to access those services in Welsh. If a Welsh-speaking member of staff is not available, arrangements will be made to contact one.
When initiating correspondence in Wales and where the recipient’s language is not known, contact will be made in both English and Welsh.
All staff that answer direct external telephone calls in Wales will provide a bilingual greeting, and if the member of staff does not speak Welsh and the caller wishes to speak Welsh, a Welsh speaker should be sought within their office or transfer the caller to the Welsh language helpline.
Online services must also remain open to Welsh speakers, and these will include making a plea online, paying a court fine and help with fees.
The consultation asking whether there can be any additions of changes to the Welsh language scheme is open until 29 January.