Criminal justice

Can I use the same interpreter as the police for taking instructions?

My client has been arrested and the police have arranged an interpreter for the PACE interview. Can I use the same interpreter for taking instructions?

In most circumstances, it will be appropriate to use the same interpreter to act for your client.

However, you should consider using a different interpreter where:

  • the interpreter arranged by the police cannot meet all of the client's needs
  • there are multiple suspects, or
  • the client knows the interpreter arranged by the police personally

Other factors you should consider include whether:

  • the charges are of a particularly sensitive and/or serious nature
  • there's a significant risk that the client's comprehension of police questioning, and/or the accuracy of the interpretation of police questioning will be disputed, and the interpreter is a potential prosecution witness in the matter
  • community relations are such that the client has little confidence in the interpreter/police relationship, and this may affect the quality of your consultation and the development of the fiduciary relationship between you and your client

For more information, see our practice note on the use of interpreters in criminal cases.


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

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