The DPSI law preparatory course, offered by DPSI Online with Helena El Masri, covers most situations one can come across in a legal setting. After having studied the course material thoroughly and passing the exam, one should be able to manage all standard situations in a competent manner.
The course in question has seven main modules: crime, police, courts, probation, immigration, civil law, and local government. Each module has four main parts: the first is a Module introducing law, regulations, procedures, and standard situations related to the main subject. The second consists of two role-plays and include a simultaneous translation exercise from a recording. This can be, for example, the solicitor explaining the law relevant to the suspect’s situation. The third part has six site translations focusing on specialised areas of the main subject of the module, and the fourth six written translations. Half of the sight and written translations are from English into another language, and half from the other language into English. A revision module concludes the course as the eighth module and aims at discussing the oral topics released by the CioL in June.
It is an excellent introduction and overview of basic law and scenarios one can come across at in real life, at the police station and in the courts. The writer of the article would also like draw attention to the fact that even when students have a good knowledge of the law and standard scenarios, they can have difficulties in translating the concepts and definitions into their mother tongue. It occurs on a regular basis that students are not quite clear about the meaning of words and phrases in their mother tongue. Reading through the modules, makes you think about what actual words mean and how they could best be meaningfully translated when there is not a straightforward simple solution.
Looking into the modules, one can find the basic offences, and their definitions under crimes which is the first module. Offences against the person such as ABH, GBH, attempted murder, common assault, harassment, manslaughter, murder, sexual offences. Public order offences are covered in detail to include affray, anti-social behaviour, trespass, riot, and violent disorder. The drug related offences give a proper description of the offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and a detailed description of class A, B, and C drugs with their various slang designations. This part also touches upon the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.
The second part of this comprehensive module covers theft offences including handling stolen goods, conspiracy to defraud, robbery, domestic robbery, etc. It also deals with victims of crime, victim support, and restorative justice which one will also come across in the Module on the courts and on the Probation Service. Each Module covers a list of terms that can pose a problem for many students and these can be discussed in class.
Abbreviations that can be a problem are ABCs and ABAs; ASBIs, ASBOs; CICA; DIP, DVLA; DVSA; SORN; TWOC; VOSA.
Everyone needs to be reminded of how the different offences are dealt with by the courts, summary only offences, either way offences and indictable ones. The module puts the words indictment, conviction and sentence into context.
The second module is about police powers and procedures. It describes the powers of the police such as the power of arrest, stop and search, or search the premises. One becomes acquainted with arrestable and non-arrestable offences and the interview process after arrest or in case of voluntary interviews. The module explains the police caution, the rights of suspects in custody including the right to free and independent legal advice, how vulnerable and underage suspects need to be dealt with, and the use of appropriate adults. The use of statements is explained, too, and it also touches upon custody time limits, intimate and non-intimate samples, and identification procedures. Students can learn, or be reminded of, the charging process and the grant of bail as well as bail conditions.
Terms that may be difficult but essential when working with the police are bail including the understanding of the three types of bail, caution with special attention to its two important meanings, hearsay, identification parade, inquest, remanded in custody, reprimand, search warrant, amongst others.
The most important abbreviations in this module are the CJA; CPS; FLO; PACE; SIO; VEV, etc.
The third module is about criminal courts and civil courts. It lists the courts in the United Kingdom and explains the functions of the different courts. Firstly, it is imperative to know all the courts in the United Kingdom, and secondly it is essential to consider how one translates their names or explains what they deal with. What courts named as a certain court mean in the United Kingdom may not cover the function of the court with the same designation in another country. The best example for this is county court which deals with strictly civil matters in the United Kingdom. One can come across languages where county court can stand for a court to which one can take other matters as well.
The module describes how the magistrates’ courts work and the process of indicating plea, or admitting guilt. It explains the trial procedure at the magistrates’ courts and how committal proceedings work. The module also explains what the tribunals deal with, and briefly introduces the specialist courts such as for example the Administrative Court, Appeal Court, Chancery, Divisional Court, Queen’s Bench Division, and the Supreme Court.
One also gets an insight into types of out of court dispute resolution such as conciliation, mediation or negotiation.
The most important words and terms one needs to know are applicant, arbitrator, bail application, bench warrant, beyond reasonable doubt, bind over, breach of bail, collective conciliation, community service, community payback, coroner’s court, defence council, deferred sentence, injunction, judicial mediation, jurisdiction, mitigating factor, parenting order, parole board, probate, prosecution, restraint order, retribution, special measures, and suspended sentence.
The most relevant abbreviations one needs to be familiar with are ACAS f; ADR; CCRC f; ECHR f; ECJ; ICC; ICJ; HMCTS; PTR; RIPA; VPS and YOP.
The fourth module is on the Probation Service. This complements the modules on crime and courts since the contents of these modules serve as a background to the probation service. The four main types of community sentence are the community rehabilitation orders, community punishment orders, community punishment and rehabilitation orders, and drug treatment and testing requirements.
Most terms will be familiar from the previous modules. Offending Behaviour Programme aims at changing offending behaviour, and steer clear is another term for a drink driving course. Important terms to know are attendance centre, binding over order, breach proceeding, breach of orders, combination order, curfew, discharge, exclusion, intermittent custody, supervision requirement, and suspended sentence order. ART; ASRO; CALM; DIDs; IDAP; NACRO; NOMS; NPS; OSAP; PSR; PRISM and VLS.
The fifth module is on Immigration. The procedures and terms of this module are changing rapidly these days. The first theme of the module is about asylum. Every reader gets some idea of the recognised definition of refugee in accordance with, for example, The Refugee or Person in Need of International Protection Regulations 2006, of how asylum applications work, the appeal process, and the grant or refusal of asylum on the basis of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004. One also gets a fair idea of the current situation including fast track asylum application process, the circumstances of when asylum can be granted, the difference between removal and deportation, in accordance with the Asylum and Immigration Act 1999. Detention and Removal Centres are used for immigration purposes thus one comes across these terms in this context. Students are introduced to various charities who support asylum seekers, and further details are provided on the work and procedures of immigration tribunals. The module has a whole section on human rights issues and presents the Declaration of Human Rights. Students get an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the human rights articles and think about the best possible translations of them.
As with all other modules, this one also covers terms of key importance such as asylum applicant or asylum seeker, asylum screening, asylum support, citizenship, determination which is the written decision of an immigration judge, human trafficking, illegal entrant and Merton compliant age assessment.
The most important abbreviations in this module are UTIAC; ARC; ASIRT; ASU; CMR; DL; ILR; IRC and UKVI instead of the old UKBA.
Module six is on Civil Law. This includes family law, tort, contract law, employment law, wills and probate. As a rule, students know less about civil law than criminal but it is imperative that interpreters know for example, the difference between judicial separation and divorce, and be aware of the two stages of divorce in British law. The first stage concludes with the decree nisi and the second final stage, with the decree absolute. This part of the module describes the divorce process and arrangements involving property and children.
The second part of this module is on tort. Torts are civil wrongs such as assault, battery, libel, negligence, nuisance, slander, and trespass. They are the result of a breach of the law and/ or a breach of the duty of care. There must be wrong and harm or wrong and rarely foreseeable harm in tort. Contract needs the agreement of parties, and contract law deals with the breaches of this agreement meaning the express and implied terms in the contract. It is important to be familiar with the tracks in civil litigation, such as the small claim, fast track and multi-track. The module provides an insight into the protocol of personal injury.
The last part of this module is on wills. One can read about basic rules of making wills, the process of probate, the role of the executor, or if there is not one, the role of the administrator. There is also a brief introduction into what happens in case of intestacy.
Essential terms to be aware of in relation to family are ancillary relief, child contact, consent order, cross petition which is when parties divorce by mutual consent, decree absolute, decree nisi, parental responsibility, petition, prenuptial arrangement, and staying contact.
Essential terms to understand in civil litigation are acknowledgement, admission, allocation, bankruptcy, claim assessor, claimant, codicil, conversion, counterclaim, damages, defamation, default judgement, discrimination, duty of care, enforcement, fiery facias, injunctive relief, indirect discrimination, liability, malicious prosecution, mediation, particulars of claim, plaintiff, respondent, warrant of execution, and many others.
In case of wills and intestacy, one must be familiar with the meaning and use of bequest, grant of probate, legacy, legatee, letter of administration, probate.
Key abbreviation in Civil Law are CSA; CICA; CMR; IVAs; MIB; OFT; UKCPA.
The final module is on Local Government mainly because some cases can end up in court or a tribunal and require a legal interpreter, such as care proceedings, eviction and benefit fraud. The local authorities part deals with council services, planning permissions, building regulations. Housing explains people’s basic rights and the procedures in relation to homelessness, housing, tenancy agreements, possession orders, and eviction. This part is supplemented by a brief description of council tax, its bands, and benefits. The third main topic of this module is social services. This is often an eye opener for readers who have not had much dealings with social services and family courts. It provides an insight into how social services become involved and their procedures in the case of child abuse and neglect. It explains care orders, foster carers, and adoption.
Terms one should really know and know how to translate into one’s language when dealing with areas of this topic are adoption, rent arrears, assured shorthold tenancies, bidding in relation to council properties, building regulations, case conference, Child Protection Register, core group meeting which can mean care plan reviews in this context, council tax benefit, eviction, fostering, squatter, etc.
Most common abbreviations are ABC; ASBOs; ASD; CAFCASS; CDAIUCYP; FCA; IRO; MSI; SEN; SLD for severe learning difficulty; etc.
I find that having studied and understood the meaning of these topics/terms interpreters are equipped to accurately interpret in these settings. The 7 modules of this preparatory course provide plenty of support to enable students to achieve this purpose. It also introduces different interpreting techniques, note-taking basics, intervention techniques, and speechpool. Speechpool, as its name suggests, is an open collection of speeches which everyone can use for practice simultaneous interpreting. Helena El Masri also provides you with a tutor in your language if you enrol on the course. I believe, though one can only talk on one’s own behalf, that most of us are dedicated teachers who go out of our way to help students who want to learn. Classes can work as study circles where everyone can share and develop their knowledge but also practise consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, sight translations and receive feedback on written work. Having read through the modules, completed the exercises and translations, you will be able to sit for the exam and interpret with confidence.