Cyprus has passed a new law regarding the registration and regulation of the services of sworn translators, including guidelines for official translations and related certifications.
With effect from July 1st, 2019, the Registration and Regulation of Sworn Translator Services Law 45 (I)/2019 (the law) has come into effect, negating the previous system of translation of documents done by the Press and Information Office (PIO), through expert freelance translators under contractual agreements.
With the passing of the new law, all individuals or public institutions interested in getting documents officially translated must refer directly to the certified translators registered with the Register of Sworn Translators of the Council of Sworn Translators (the Register).
There are a number of laws that require the provision of a certified or sworn translator to the courts, for the administration of justice. Also, translated documents are frequently intended for official use. The enactment of this law will create a cohesive legal framework for all these circumstances.
Who Can Be Registered as a Sworn Translator?
Article 6 of the law states that a person can be registered as a certified or sworn translator, entitled to the payment of the prescribed fee, provided that they satisfy the certain conditions, such as:
- They are a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus or an EEA member state and habitually reside in Cyprus; or are a spouse of such a citizen.
- They have good command over Greek and/or the Turkish language.
- They hold a bachelor’s or postgraduate diploma or an equivalent qualification, recognised under the Law on the Recognition of Higher Education and Related Information Laws, dealing with: (i) translation of any language (ii) foreign languages or (iii) other related subjects.
- They have never been convicted of any offense related to moral malpractice or lack of honesty.
- They have never committed a disciplinary offense, which has led to their termination from a public service or a public-law body or any educational service.
- They have successfully cleared the examination conducted by the council for individuals applying for registration in the Register, according to the provisions under Article 7.
The Council must consider all applications within 2 months of the date of submission. According to the law, registrations are effective for a period of 5 years from the date that the certificate of registration is issued. Registrations can be renewed for 5-year periods, with the submission of a new application by the individual. All individuals registered with the Council for Registration of Sworn Translators must take the oath within two months of the certificate being issued.
Areas that Require the Services of Sworn Translators
The law has been welcomed by the legal community, since it does not only regulate a previously unregulated area, but also creates a benchmark for a number of legislative instruments that require certified translators. It is expected to also address procedural and technical impediments in the courts.
According to Section 17 of the law, courts state departments and independent bodies in Cyprus are required to engage the services of a qualified sworn translator. Authorities of the Republic of Cyprus can, under certain circumstances and at their own expense, also ask a sworn translator to submit a recent criminal record certificate.
In addition, there could be certain urgent cases where a non-sworn translator’s services might be used due to the unavailability of a sworn translator for a particular source and target language. In such cases, the agency using the translation services will require the translators to submit a criminal record certificate.
Provisions Applicable to Lawyers
Section 14(2) details provisions for lawyers, which state that any lawyer registered with the Register of Lawyers, as well as the law firm in which they work, should not handle a case in which documents that they have translated are being used.
In case a lawyer is not registered, they can carry out translation of documents for cases handled by them or the law firm in which they work. Such translations will be considered certified by the court of law and authorities of Cyprus, only if accompanied by an affidavit declaring the exceptional circumstances in which the lawyer had to translate the documents, in place of a sworn translator.
Criminal Offenses Under the New Law
According to Section 32 of the law, fraudulent representations by a person attempting to register themselves or someone else in the Registry will be considered a criminal offense. Also, a person who is not registered according to the provisions of the law, and yet provides services of a sworn translator, will be a criminal under the law.
In the event of such offenses, the person could face imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding €8,000, or a combination of the two. Penalties will be awarded by a disciplinary commission established for this purpose.
A copy of the Registry of Sworn Translators will be published annually in the Gazette of the Republic (of Cyprus) and the website of the Press and Information Office (PIO).
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