The interpreter as keeper of secrets

Interpretation, confidentiality and good practice in arbitration

Confidentiality in arbitration

Interpretation in arbitration: highly technical and complicated issues and sensitive information

A couple of weeks ago, CGS Translations was commissioned to provide sworn interpreting from English into Spanish and vice versa during an international arbitration. Arbitration is an out-of-court dispute resolution system that avoids the parties having to go to court. Here, the final verdict is influenced by the willingness to settle and is rendered by the arbitration tribunal, i.e., an impartial third party.

It is not surprising that in an arbitration with highly technical and complicated subject matter, where millions of dollars in penalties were at stake, very complex technical language was used, and sensitive information was exposed. For such an assignment, CGS Translations had to prepare thoroughly in advance and make use of its 16 years of experience in sworn interpreting. As the arbitrator and the lawyers for the claimant and defendant were on one continent, the client and the interpreters were on another, and one of the expert witnesses was also in another country, we had to connect using Zoom and work using consecutive interpreting, at the request of the arbitrator, in order to guarantee the accuracy of the interpretation. To guarantee the confidentiality of the sessions, a confidentiality agreement had to be signed, as is standard practice, and an oath had to be taken at the start of the first working session.

Confidentiality in sworn interpreting

Photo by Scott Graham

Furthermore, sworn interpreters, as well as most non-sworn professional linguists, are bound by a very strict code of ethics, as they carry a great deal of responsibility that requires adherence to strict ethical standards. In addition to being faithful to the integrity of speech, it is also important to be impartial, have no conflicts of interest, possess the appropriate credentials and qualifications, behave in a professional manner, and respect confidentiality. Article 2 of the Code of ethics of the AICE (Spanish Association of Conference Interpreters) states these confidentiality principles: “a) The members of the AICE shall fully respect the confidentiality of all information arising from the exercise of their profession, with the exception of information disclosed at open meetings. b) AICE members shall in no case derive personal benefit from confidential information they may have acquired in the course of their work as conference interpreters”.

In an age when we are accustomed to easily accessible information and in which social networks blur the boundaries of what can be shared, the experience and guaranteed professionalism of language service providers is of great importance. CGS Translations has strictly adhered to these codes for years and would never disclose the content of conversations, transcripts, or data subject to professional secrecy without the client’s prior and written consent.

Service provided

Consecutive remote interpreting ENG>ES, ES>ENG.