JVEG new draft: court payments for translators and interpreters in Germany

The Justizvergütungs- und -entschädigungsgesetz (JVEG), the Court Payment and Reimbursement Act, soon to be passed, will govern the payment of expert witnesses, interpreters and translators and the reimbursement of lay judges and expert witnesses. It’s an important topic but one I probably don’t know enough about – it doesn’t affect me directly (except on the rare occasions when a court asks me to supply a certified translation). See earlier entries here and here.

I believe the lawyers and expert witnesses are happier with the latest draft than the translators and interpreters are. The draft is available at www.bmj.bund.de: here is the press release of August 28th.

All this material is in German, but it isn’t of direct interest to anyone who doesn’t speak German. Now the BDÜ, the Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer e.V., with over 5,000 members, also on behalf of other translators’ associations in Germany: ADÜ Nord Assoziierte Dolmetscher und Übersetzer in Norddeutschland e.V.,
ATICOM – Fachverband der Berufsübersetzer und Berufsdolmetscher e.V., Hattingen,
VVU Verband der allgemein beeidigten Verhandlungsdolmetscher und der öffentlich bestellten und beeidigten Urkundenübersetzer in Baden-Württemberg e.V., Stuttgart,
VbDÜ Verein öffentlich bestellter und beeidigter Dolmetscher und Übersetzer Bayern
e.V., München, and
Verein beeidigter Dolmetscher und Übersetzer Leipzig e.V., Leipzig,

together with about 2,000 members,
has put its comments on the latest draft online.

Although the draft is an improvement in some respects on the last, there are a large number of problems outstanding, such as the rate paid to interpreters (equivalent to the second-lowest rate for expert witnesses) and the payment per line to translators (EUR 1.25 at minimum, and the usual maximum of EUR 1.85 is not merely for ‘more difficult’ translations, but for ‘considerably more difficult’ ones. The previous payment of EUR 2 per page has gone (a strange old-fashioned kind of payment presuming a chancellery setting). Computer counting including spaces is to be accepted, but not in the case of Cyrillic and Greek font, although it is no secret that Cyrillic and Greek fonts can be counted too.

Another problem is the reference to how translators are paid if they come from a company (Unternehmung), since certified translators are individuals on the courts’ list, and many courts instead go straight to translation companies instead of looking for a certified translator. This is a big topic. Again, the draft assumes that there are circumstances when work for police will not be governed by the Act. And there are strict regulations reducing the income of interpreters: one of these is that if a job is cancelled at short notice, the interpreter will be paid for a maximum of one hour. Interpreters normally charge by the day, and they normally require a day’s payment for short-term cancellation, because they cannot get alternative work at short notice.

The new Act purports to treat interpreters and translators as professionals, to be paid for their services (the old Act had ‘Entschädigung’ – reimbursement – where the new draft has ‘Vergütung’ – payment). The BDÜ objects that it does not go far enough in treating translators and interpreters as professionals.

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