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Interpreters and fairness in administrative hearings
journal contributionposted on 2016-01-01, 00:00 authored by Matthew GrovesMatthew Groves
A fair hearing requires that people who may be affected by official or public power be given adequate notice of the issues to be decided, a fair opportunity to put their case and to question issues adverse to them. These basic principles presume that affected people can understand the matters in issue and the proceeding in which those issues are adjudicated. If an affected person cannot speak the language in which the proceeding is conducted, fairness will require that an interpreter be provided. But that alone may not satisfy the requirements of fairness. This article examines the rules governing interpreters in migration hearings as an example of the requirements of fairness in administrative hearings involving interpreters. It is argued that the common law does not require that interpreting always be provided in administrative hearings, or that the best possible interpreting be provided. The article also questions whether the Federal Court is correct to suggest that there may be notable differences in the requirements governing interpreting in hearings regulated by the detailed procedures contained in migration legislation and hearings governed by the common law.