Dynamic Solutions in Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution Services

Participating in mediation when you’re not fluent in English

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | Alternative Dispute Resolution

Florida is a highly diverse state. Residents come here to live and work from all over the world. For many of them, English isn’t their native language. Some are more fluent in it than others. 

How fluent a person becomes in spoken and written English after they move here often depends on how necessary it is to their job. Even for those who speak, read and write English well, when it comes to dealing with a legal matter, they may feel more comfortable having an interpreter to help ensure that they fully understand what they’re being told and to make sure that nothing they say or agree to is “lost in translation.” 

That’s particularly crucial because many legal terms aren’t even familiar to those not in the legal profession, even in their own language. That’s why interpreters and translators (including American Sign Language or ASL interpreters) are required if requested throughout the justice system. 

Can you request and receive an interpreter?

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that interpreters must be provided when requested for court-related proceedings. The Florida Rules for Certification and Regulation of Interpreters includes mediation and arbitration in its definition of “court-related proceeding.”

It’s critical that all parties to the mediation be able to understand and participate in the process on an equal footing. If one party can’t do that if the mediation is conducted solely in English or if they’re not provided with the assistance of an interpreter, then they should insist that they have one. Some interpreters undergo training in specific areas so that they can accurately interpret medical, legal and various technical terminology that might be unfamiliar to many professional interpreters.

Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of mediation or any kind of alternative dispute resolution to realize that you need an interpreter, and don’t expect the mediator to do it for you. That’s not their job. It’s crucial to make your needs known to protect your rights and interests in the case.