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AVIDICUS 3 (2014-16)

Aims and outcomes

AVIDICUS 3 focused on the use of videoconferencing in bilingual legal proceedings involving an interpreter. The rationale was twofold. First, videoconferences (VCs) are frequently used in both national and cross-border proceedings e.g. to link to a defendant in prison or a witness in another country. The current scale of migration and multilingualism in Europe means that such proceedings are often bilingual and require the integration of an interpreter into the VC. Second, VCs are used to optimise access to qualified legal interpreters, as envisaged in Directives 2010/64/EU on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings and 2012/29/EU on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime.

Given these developments and the crucial role of videoconferencing in European eJustice, bilingual VCs are likely to become so frequent in legal proceedings across Europe that the implementation of VC facilities in European jurisdictions needs to make appropriate provisions for the integration of interpreters. The findings of the AVIDICUS 1 and AVIDICUS 2 projects, which assessed the viability and quality of VC-based interpreting in criminal proceedings, suggested that such provisions should include

  1. Measures for identifying and mitigating basic communication and interpreting problems in VCs including awareness-raising and training; specification of appropriate communication procedures; and development of guidelines;
  2. Due regard for technological and design-related factors such as the quality of the equipment, room layout, participant distribution and positioning; mode(s) of interpreting, and the impact of these factors on the efficiency and fairness of justice.

Whilst AVIDICUS 1 and 2 each focused on different aspects of point 1) above, AVIDICUS 3 turned to the design and implementation of bilingual VC solutions. The main aim was to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the VC solutions used in legal institutions across Europe in order to ascertain whether these solutions are suitable for bilingual communication. A related aim was to identify institutional and individual needs for training in relation to bilingual videoconferencing and to develop an innovative approach to training by using the medium of VC itself to deliver training in bilingual videoconferencing.

The project used a combination of over 100 stakeholder interviews, fieldwork in VC facilities and observations and qualitative analysis of over 300 VC-based proceedings to investigate the current practices of bilingual videoconferencing in different justice sector institutions in 12 European member states. The research conducted in AVIDICUS 3 sows that the complexities of interpreter-mediated communication and bilingual videoconferencing are generally under-estimated by legal and institutional stakeholders, and that they need to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the specific requirements that arise from the combination of VC and interpreter-mediated communication in legal settings. The practical resources developed (training, handbook) provide hands-on solutions for designing and implementing appropriate systems and solutions for bilingual videoconferencing and for their effective use in legal proceedings at national and cross-border level.

The project produced the following key deliverables:

  1. AVIDICUS3 Research Report documenting the findings from the stakeholder interviews, observations and qualitative analyses of bilingual videoconferencing in legal proceedings including the partnership’s assessment of the current situation
  2. A comprehensive Handbook of Bilingual Videoconferencing addressing those responsible for implenenting and managing videoconferencing facilities in the justice sector; legal professionals (including police officers, lawyers, prosecutors, judges and other officers); and legal interpreters
  3. A Training Service that uses the medium of videoconferencing itself to deliver training for bilingual videoconferencing

The outcomes are of direct relevance to all stakeholders involved in European eJustice, i.e. those responsible for implementing and managing VC facilities in the justice sector, legal professionals and interpreters, and European citizens requiring interpreting support during legal proceedings. Following AVIDICUS 1 and 2, the AVIDICUS 3 project constituted a final step in the assessment of VC-based interpreting in legal proceedings, by focusing attention on in situ implementation and with the aim of making the practice of bilingual videoconferencing as user-friendly and efficient as possible, to ensure equality of all citizens before the law, irrespective of the need for linguistic and/or technological mediation.

Partners

  • University of Surrey (co-ordinator)
  • Ministry of Security and Justice of The Netherlands
  • KU Leuven
  • Institut Mines Télécom
  • University of Trieste
  • University of Alicante
  • Ann Corsellis OBE (internal evaluator)