Cyprus has enacted a new law on the Registration and Regulation of the Services of Sworn Translators, which establishes the Registry of Sworn Translators and regulates official translations and related certifications.
The position prior to the Law
Until recently, certified translations in Cyprus have been provided exclusively by the Press and Information Office (PIO) through a network of associate translators. The Ministers’ Council had allowed the PIO to employ freelance translators under contractual agreements and assign translations to them, depending on their foreign language expertise. However, the PIO was not in a positon to certify the translations as official translations and the translators did not have any official recognition as sworn translators. Given that some of the most frequently translated documents are usually intended for official use, the lack of a cohesive legal framework has caused substantial problems in the administration of justice, especially when a number of laws require certified or sworn translations to be provided to the Court.
The key provisions of the new Law
As of 1 July 2019, the previous system of translation of documents provided by the PIO is terminated. All individuals or public bodies interested in obtaining officially certified translations, must refer directly to the certified translators who are registered in the Register of Sworn Translators of the Council of Sworn Translators (the Register), which has now been established pursuant to Law 45(I)/2019 on the Registration and Regulation of the Services of Sworn Translators (the Law).
The new legislation has brought the following key changes:
- The creation of the Council for the Registration of Sworn Translators (the Council) which shall have the power to legislate itself regarding its operation and procedure to be followed at the Council’s meetings.
- A Registry has been established, which shall be used for enrolling persons authorised to perform certified translations as sworn translators.
- The Law recognises the existence of sworn translators, who are private translators registered in the Registry and who are allowed to officially certify a translation from a foreign language to Greek or Turkish or vice versa, through sealing the translations with the official seal of the Republic of Cyprus.
- Certified translations shall be considered valid and accepted by the Courts and the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus.
- The Board of Sworn Translators is responsible for the registration of persons in this Registry according to existing criteria, as well as exercising other powers and responsibilities conferred on it by the Law.
Who can be registered as a sworn translator?
An individual can be registered as a sworn translator provided that they satisfy the following criteria:
- they are a citizen of the Republic or of an EEA Member State and are habitually resident within the Republic, or the spouse of such a citizen;
- they have excellent knowledge of the Greek language and/or the Turkish language;
- they hold a degree or postgraduate diploma or an equivalent qualification recognized under the provisions of the Law on the Recognition of Higher Education and Related Information Laws, dealing with: translation of any language, foreign languages or other related subjects;
- they have never been convicted of an offense involving moral obscenity or lack of honesty;
- they have never been fired or terminated by the public service or the educational service or any public-law body for a disciplinary offense;
- they have successfully passed a written examination carried out by the Council.TimeframesThe Council must consider every application within two months from the date of its submission. Notably, the law provides that registrations are effective for a period of five years from the date of the issuance of the registration certificate and it can be renewed more than once for an additional five years’ time.Persons registered with the Council for the Registration of Sworn Translators must take an oath within a period of two months from the date of the issuance of the registration.
Special provisions for lawyers
It is important to note that Section 14 (2) includes provisions for attorneys, which states that a person exercising the role of an attorney who is registered in the Register of Lawyers, as well as the firm she/he works in, must refrain from handling a case which is linked to documents they have translated.
In contrast, a lawyer who is not registered as per above, is allowed to translate documents which are directly related to the case she/he or the law firm is working on.These translations may exceptionally be accepted by the Courts and the authorities of the Republic, accompanied by an affidavit stating the exceptional reason as to why the said translation is undertaken by a lawyer instead of by a certified translator.
Obligation to use the services of sworn translators
Pursuant to section 17 of the abovementioned law, the state departments, the courts and the independent authorities of the Republic are obliged to use highly qualified sworn translators. Additionally, the authorities of the Republic may, at their own expense, request a sworn translator to submit a recent criminal record certificate when there are particular reasons relating to the nature of a particular case.
Irrespective of the above, the authorities may, in urgent cases, use the translation services of a non-sworn translator if the services of a certified translator are not readily available or there are no sworn translators for a specific target language and a specific source language. In such a case, translators have to submit a recent criminal record certificate before the service is provided and, in an urgent case in which is not possible to submit this certificate directly, the competent authority shall ensure that it is submitted immediately after the provision of the aforementioned services.
Criminal Offences under the Law
Under section 32 of the new Law, a person commits a criminal offense if with fraudulent representations, he/she registers or attempts to register either himself or someone else in the Registry. The law also stipulates that presenting oneself as a sworn translator and providing the service of one but not being duly registered as such, is a criminal offence.
In the event that a person is found guilty of the above, they would be subject to imprisonment not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding eight thousand euros (€ 8,000) or to a combination of both.
Law 45(I)/2019 is welcomed by legal professionals as it regulates an area which was unregulated and sets a higher standard of certainty in relation to a number of legislative instruments that require sworn translations, such as the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.