The main provider of courtroom interpreting to the Ministry of Justice says it is removing a section of its service agreement with interpreters that some believe prevents them from whistleblowing.

The Gazette has learned that concerns about TheBigWord’s interpreting services agreement have been raised with HM Courts & Tribunals Service.

Part of clause 13 in the agreement states: ‘You shall indemnify and keep indemnified us against any liability, loss, damage, cost, claim or expense we suffer or incur as a result of any claims against us for such sums and other claims arising out of you being found to be an employee of or worker of ours.’

The Gazette understands that interpreters had feared being unable to claim protection as whistleblowers under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. In a statement, TheBigWord said: ‘Linguists in our network are freelancers and have the option to accept or decline any job. There is no obligation and no penalty for accepting or declining any job. We reject any suggestion that linguists are restricted in their ability to raise concerns.

‘As part of our ongoing partnership with the MoJ and the linguist community, we regularly carry out linguist-focused summits, and we review our service agreement to ensure it is fair. Based on the feedback received, the highlighted section of clause 13.4 is scheduled to be removed in the next review this summer.’

TheBigWord, headquartered in Leeds, took over from Capita Translation and Interpreting in October 2016 to provide face-to-face interpretation and translation (including telephone and video), and translation and transcription.