Law Society warns UK Immigration Policy is disrupting business

Wednesday 29 February 2012

The Law Society has today warned that further restrictions on businesses bringing non-EU skilled migrant workers into the UK could stall recovery when economic conditions improve. Law firms need maximum flexibility to be able to recruit quickly when the need arises, it said.

The Society said it agreed with the proposal published this week by the government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) not to change the current 20,700 limit on non-EU skilled migrant workers. Only half that allocation is currently being taken up.

The Society’s chief executive Desmond Hudson said: ‘In our evidence to MAC we said that given the poor economic starting point, it would be unwise to base future visa allocations on present consumption. Like other sectors, law firms are facing significant challenges across all areas of their business because of the global economic recession. It must make sense to afford them the greatest flexibility to be able to recruit quickly when conditions improve and business increases. As the MAC report recognises, these are the very people who are most likely to contribute to economic growth.’

Hudson criticised the ‘rapid succession’ of changes in work-related immigration brought about by the Government over the past 18 months as a policy which has proven disruptive to UK business.

Desmond Hudson went on to state that the government’s commitment to reducing net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ was prompted by public concerns about immigration. He said: ‘Our view is that such concerns are about illegal immigration, abuse of the immigration system and the associated calls upon public services, and the impact of EU migration on resident workers’ access to low and semi-skilled jobs. Those concerns are not addressed by further restrictions on the business migration routes for professionals coming into the UK from outside the EU.’

The government is expected to make an announcement soon on the rights of settlement for so-called Tier 2 skilled migrants.

Court Interpreters and the MoJ humiliation

Below is a copy of a recent article published in the Gazette, the official journal of the Law Society of England & Wales. It’s about court interpreters and the recent change of plan by the Government to save, what they claim will be, £18 Million. Sadly those of us who actually have to use the courts on a day-to-day basis can see that the Government will stop at nothing to ‘save money’. It is terrifying to think that a person could be arrested in a country where they do not speak the local language, charged with involvement in some form of criminal offence, often extremely serious, be brought before a court and stand there watching lawyers and judges chat away about the suspects future, without a clue as to what is going on or being said. Very often that suspect then gets carted off to an overcrowded prison where s/he has to wait a few weeks whilst the ‘system’ arranges for another hearing at court where hopefully we may even have an interpreter present.

What makes all the above even more terrifying is that with the demise of the previous accreditation requirements for court interpreters, anyone who speaks a foreign language and has a vague knowledge of some English is now applying to join the ranks of the new ‘court interpreters’ lists.

All this in a jurisdiction which has always prided itself on ‘justice and fairness’.

You can read the article below or link direct from here:



Firm in interpreter storm offers better deal

Protesters outside the AIT in Manchester’s Piccadilly

Thursday 23 February 2012 by John Hyde (Law Society Gazette)

The firm at the centre of the row over courtroom interpreters says it has taken on more staff and offered cash incentives to improve the service offered under its Ministry of Justice contract.

Gavin Wheeldon, chief executive of Applied Language Solutions (ALS), contacted staff members and self employed interpreters this week following the Gazette’s report of problemsencountered by courts using the new hub service.

ALS was awarded a contract by the Ministry of Justice last year to act as the sole supplier of court interpreters, but critics have claimed some staff are not properly trained and court proceedings are being held up as a result. The Professional Interpreters’ Alliance says defendants are being forced to spend extra nights in custody because no one is available in court to translate for them.

In an email sent at the start of this week, Wheeldon said that 21 extra people were being recruited to ensure the service runs more smoothly. A £5 supplement was introduced from Monday for all interpreters who accept bookings through the new automated system, and mileage allowances doubled from 20p to 40p.

In the email, Wheeldon said: ‘I understand this has been frustrating and the system is not perfect yet but please bear with us a bit longer – we will get there I promise!

‘I have thought long and hard about the earnings issue and discussed this internally with management. What we have come up with, I hope, helps us both.’

A spokeswoman for ALS said the firm had no further comment.

On Monday, interpreters protested outside courts in Manchester (pictured) and Bradford against the government’s decision to outsource the service. Further demonstrations are being planned for London and Birmingham.

Last week, the MoJ contacted courts and tribunals to allow them to hire interpreters from other sources where hearings have been cancelled. A spokesman for the department added that the contract will save at least £18m a year on the cost of interpretation and translation, while ensuring high quality interpreters are available.