Legal translation in criminal proceedings in Belgium

Start - End 
2021 - 2026 (ongoing)
Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication
Research Focus 
Research Methodology 



EU legislation (notably Directive 2010/64/EU) determines the right to a fair trial, which implies that accused persons who do not understand the language of the criminal proceedings should be provided with a written translation of all documents necessary to ensure the fairness of the proceedings. This contribution investigates the way Belgium complies with this EU legislation.

The research project has a threefold scope. The first subproject charts the outsourcing process of translation in criminal proceedings, from the drafting of the source text to the actual use of the translation. We hypothesize that this process is problematic, which leads to quality issues . The second subproject investigates whether the general consensus that translators have low status is true for Belgian legal translators and what factors influence their status. Finally, we will examine which quality standards exist for translations in criminal proceedings and what opinions translators and magistrates have about them.

To answer our research questions, we will use a mixed-methods approach. To map the outsourcing process, we will conduct ethnographic fieldwork, comprising participant observation, interviews and a qualitative document analysis. The status of legal translators and translators’ and magistrates’ perceptions of quality will be investigated by means of a survey and in-depth interviews. To further examine quality in translated penal documents, we will analyze a small corpus of authentic texts and set up an experiment in which several actors evaluate different translations of the same text.




Phd Student(s)