AUSTRIA

 

Country:   AUSTRIA

Official or co-official languages

German

Principal linguistic communities  

Alemannic, Austro-Bavarian are regionally spoken variants of Upper German. The main minority languages are Serbian, Turskish, Croatian, Hungarian and Slovene.

Foundations:

 

Current legislative mandates

Since the year 1975 Austria has had a special law on expert witnesses and court interpreters, the so-called „Sachverständigen- und Dolmetschergesetz” (SDG) which is linked to the “Gebührenanspruchsgesetz” (GebAG = law on court fees), in the version of the “Berufsrechtsänderungsgesetz” (BRÄG = law amending pro­fessional rules and regulations), elaborated in collaboration with the Austrian Association of Court Interpreters 

The Austrian Code of Penal Procedure of 1803 (150 years before the European Convention on Human Rights) was already a regulation that made it mandatory to provide interpreting services to people who didn’t know the German language.

 

Responsible parties:

 

Current accrediting bodies

Anyone who wishes to become a certified court interpreter must, first of all, submit his/her application to the president of the regional court of the district in which the candidate is domiciled, indicating the language(s) in which the candidate wishes to be certified. The president examines the application to see if the general prerequisites are fulfilled and then sends the application to the examination board. The examination board consists of a judge (who presides over the examination) and two examiners who are court interpreters for the candidate’s language combination.

 

 

Test Format:

 

Test format

The candidate must give proof of his/her lin­guistic competence, of his/her basic knowledge of the Austrian legal system as well as that of the foreign country, of legal, technical and medical terminology, and of his/her interpreting and translation skills. This is done in written and oral form, the oral form including a simulated con­secutive interpretation in a legal setting (for example, the hearing of a witness, the in­terrogation of an accused). The test is oral and written and lasts for appox. 1.5 – 2 hours. If the candidate passes, s/he will be included on the official list of court interpreters.

The official list of Austrian court interpreters is public and available at www.sdgliste.justiz.gv.at.

Competencies of court interpreters/translators tested include language proficiency (mother tongue and foreign language/s), interpreting skills (whispered simultaneous, consecutive), translating skills, cultural competencies, specialized vocabulary  (legal, economic, medical, technical vocabulary, slang),  knowledge of the code of ethics.

 

Score reporting

 

 

 

Information available to public:

The official list of Austrian court interpreters is public and available at www.sdgliste.justiz.gv.at.

Requirements

 

Additional qualifications for certification

Legal capacity, legal residence in Austria (Austrian citizenship is not a prerequisite for court inter­preters), physical and intellectual aptitude, a clean criminal record, moral integrity, a normal economic and financial situation (no bankruptcy or business failure), and the suitable equipment to exercise the profession (such as dictionaries, computer and other electronic devices).

A candidate files an application with one of 16 Austrian courts for certification. Along with proof of qualifications. Proof of the prerequisite professional experience is verified. Persons who have a university degree in interpreting and translation must give proof of two-years of professional experience; other candidates must document pro­fessional experience of five years. They can prove their experience by presenting cer­tificates issued by their clients.  If this formal aspect is fulfilled, the candidate is invited to sit for the examina­tion.

 

 

Feedback on exam performance

If the candidate fails the examination, he/she is informed of the reasons and ad­vised on what to do to improve his/her skills. Usually, the board recommends a minimum time frame before a candidate should again submit an application.

 

Score grievance procedure available

 

Maximum nº of sittings

There is no limit on the number of times one can repeat the examination. So far, candidates have taken the examination a maximum number of three times.

 

Permanent or renewable certification

Initial certification is for five years; renewal every 5 years required. Proof of work experience and CPD is required for renewal.

 

 

 

 

Post-certification:

 

 

 

Revocation of certification possible?

The certification ends when the period of certification expires, when the inter­preter resigns or when the interpreter is struck from the register.
There is no legal title to obtaining court-certification; if the court president strikes an interpreter from the register, the court interpreter may appeal the decision to the regional court.
 

 

If so, for what reasons?

The title “Allgemein beeideter und gerichtlich zertifizierter Dolmetscher” (generally sworn and court-certified interpreter) is protected by law. When the law was last amended, a fine was stipulated fraudulent use of the title or a seal with a fine of up to to 10,000€. Criminal proceedings may also be initiated against persons who intentionally misrepresent their qualifications.

 

Performance monitored?