THE POLISH SOCIETY OF SWORN AND SPECIALIZED TRANSLATORS
A Member of the International Federation of Translators (FIT)
and of the European Legal Interpreters and Translators Association (EULITA)
A Public Benefit Organization
Founded in 1990
TEPIS – the Polish Society of Sworn and Specialized Translators was founded in 1990 by a group of members of the Association of Polish Translators and Interpreters. The initiative had its origins in the urgent need to consolidate and train specialist translators in order to meet the demands of the rapid political and economic changes in Poland. TEPIS Society is independent and is not subsidized in any way.
TEPIS aims are:
- To represent the interests of legal translators and court interpreters and enhance their status by its actions as a public benefit organization, entitled to cooperate with the government to perform public tasks;
- To develop, compile, edit and publish specialized materials with the purpose of enriching legal translators’ and court interpreters’ professional knowledge and to propagate among them other information of interest;
- To offer opportunities for the continuing professional development of legal translators’ and court interpreters’ qualifications by holding training courses, meetings, seminars, etc.
In 1991 The Code of the Polish Court Translator, was adopted as a resolution of the Board of the TEPIS Society, commented on by experienced practitioners, reviewed by renowned academics, and published.
In August 1993, on the occasion of the XIII FIT World Congress in Brighton, TEPIS was admitted to the International Federation of Translators (FIT) and in 2009 co-founded the European Legal Interpreters and Translators Association (EULITA).
In 2019, the TEPIS Society has around 800 members. TEPIS Chapters can be found in Szczecin, Wrocław, Kraków, Bytom, Białystok and Poznań.
CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS, INTERNATIONAL FORUMS OF LEGAL TRANSLATION, ‘REPETITORIUM’ AND ‘LABORATORY’ EXPERT TRAININGS ORGANIZED BY THE TEPIS SOCIETY
The TEPIS Society organizes specialist workshops once a year. The 33th Workshop of Legal and Specialised Translation will be held in Warsaw in 2019. During 32 conferences and workshops and 5 international Forums of Legal Translation held in Poland (Warsaw 1992, Warsaw 1994, Kraków 1996, Poznań 2000, Warsaw 2006) over 1500 papers have been delivered, some of them published in the form of proceedings and as articles in Lingua Legis, the journal on legal translation published under TEPIS auspices by the Institute of Applied Linguistics of the Warsaw University. In 2006 a new form of professional development was launched , called ‘Repetitorium’ after the maxim Repetitio mater studiorum est. In 2015 still another from of professional development, a Laboratory of Specialised Translation named EXPERTUS was launched. The Repetitorium and Laboratory meetings are held in Warsaw and in other cities as organized by the TEPIS CPD Board and all the TEPIS Chapters.
PARTICIPATION IN UNIVERSITY TRAINING FOR LEGAL TRANSLATORS
In collaboration with the TEPIS Society and at its initiative, the Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies for Legal Translators and Court Interpreters were introduced by the Warsaw University Institute of Applied Linguistics in 1998. The curriculum of the Studies meets the requirements established by the 2005 Regulation on examinations for sworn translators. The most experienced TEPIS members are invited to deliver lectures at universities in other Polish cities.
THE SWORN TRANSLATOR PROFESSIONAL CODE
As a result of the cooperation of TEPIS and the Ministry of Justice, ‘The Sworn Translator’s Code‘ was prepared in 2005, then verified jointly with representatives of other ministries and universities in 2011. That was a great success for the profession and for the implementation of recommendations made by AGIS, a project of the European Commission. In 2019 the Code was revised and updated. The contents of the Code include rules of ethics and best practices for the profession of sworn translators and interpreters. The current name of the code is The Professional Sworn Translator’s Code (2019).
THE HISTORIC TRANSFORMATION OF THE TEPIS SOCIETY
INTO A PUBLIC BENEFIT ORGANIZATION IN 2005
The 6th General Assembly of the TEPIS Society made a historic decision on 1 October 2005 to change the legal status of this ordinary NGO organization into a public benefit organization, one which is entitled to cooperate with the government to perform public tasks and enables its members to assign one per cent of their tax dues to be paid to the TEPIS Society. At the same time, the preconditions of membership have been made more demanding and, according to the requirements provided by the 2004 Act on the Profession of the Sworn Translator, only magister degree holders can be admitted to the Society.
COLLABORATION OF THE TEPIS SOCIETY WITH THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
The 2004 Act on the Profession of the Sworn Translator provides for the participation of representatives of organizations affiliating sworn translators in the State Examination Board and the Professional Accountability Commission. The TEPIS members have made a considerable contribution to the high level of the examinations. They also share their experience with lawyers in the Professional Accountability Commission. Although the relations of the TEPIS Society with the Ministry of Justice were for long far from satisfactory, after the passing of the Act they have been deemed fruitful by both parties. At our initiative, the Minister of Justice launched a Working Group for the review and assessment of the functioning of the Act on the Profession of Sworn Translator in July 2015.
TEPIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE EC PROJECTS:
‘GROTIUS’, ‘AGIS’ , ‘AVIDICUS’, ‘EULITA’, TRAFUT, LIT SEARCH IN 1998-2016
Since 1998 the TEPIS representatives actively participated in the projects of the European Commission that aim at the provision of the procedural safeguards for suspects and defendants in criminal proceedings and the free access to services of qualified interpreters and translators. The TEPIS Society, having participated in ‘Grotius’, was a member of the Steering Committee of ‘AGIS’ and a partner in the EULITA project to create the European Legal Interpreters and Translators Association meant as a EC consultative body. In the TRAFUT project our representatives contributed to the implementation of the Directive 2010/64 of the European Parliement and of the Council of 20 October 2010 on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings. Our participation in ‘LIT Search‘, enabled adjustment of the list of TEPIS members to a pilot EU database of legal interpreters and translators.
TASKS TO BE PERFORMED IN THE NEAR FUTURE
Irrespective of the relatively good relations with the Ministry of Justice, there are still certain lingering and troublesome problems for sworn translators to be solved. Among the most important ones are the need:
- to persuade the Polish legislator that – according to item 11 of the 1976 UNESCO Recommendation on the legal protection of translators and translations – it is necessary to provide for them a statutory duty to be taught translation skills and techniques irrespective of the requirement to pass a state examination in order to be appointed a sworn translator;
- to make the Minister of Justice aware of the fact that average official rates for court interpreting and legal translators’ services are much below the European standards and need to be increased;
- to make the Minister of Justice aware of the EC recommendation that there is a distinct difference between the profession of an interpreter and a translator that should be provided by Polish law;
- to improve international judicial cooperation and the exchange of best practices with the support of the European Legal Interpreters and Translators Association (EULITA).
THE LEGAL STATUS OF POLISH SWORN TRANSLATORS SINCE 1920
1920 – The Regulation of the Minister of Justice on remuneration for witnesses, experts and translators in criminal proceedings was passed in 1920 as the first legal instrument concerning sworn translators in the reborn Poland. The Regulation referred to the Regulation of the Austrian Minister of Justice passed on 17 September 1897 in the Austrian partition of Poland.
1928 – The Regulation of the Minister of Justice on sworn translators dated 24 December 1928 provided for the obligatory annual publication of the National Register of Sworn Translators in the official gazette ‘Dziennik Urzędowy Ministerstwa Sprawiedliwości’. By virtue of that Regulation, lists of sworn translators from the Register were published annually in 1929 – 1939, and then – by virtue of the Sworn Translator’s Profession – Act from 2005 up to now.
1953 – The Regulation of the Minister of Justice on sworn translators passed in 1953 provided the Minister of Justice with the right to appoint sworn translators and the duty to keep their Register, not having been published since World War Two, but available to courts, prosecutors, police and other interested parties on request. The Regulations of 1968 and 1987 (valid until 2004) imposed upon chairmen of voivodeship courts (then circuit courts) the duty to keep a Register of Sworn Translators and to employ translators from that Register.
1968 – The Regulation of the Minister of Justice of 1968 on sworn translators for the first time determined qualification requirements to be met by candidates: either a magister (MA) diploma of graduation from university philological studies or a certificate of a university specialist examination passed in translation of legal and legislative texts.
1987 – The Regulation on court experts and sworn translators dated 8 June 1987, still valid in 2004, cancelled the requirement of examining graduates of non-philological studies, but chairmen of circuit courts held specialist examinations for candidates on their own. The Draft Act, prepared initially in 1998, provided that the hitherto function of the sworn translator shall be a profession and candidates have to pass a specialist examination in legal translation and court interpreting to be held by the Minister of Justice.
2004 – The new Act on the Profession of the Sworn Translator of 25 November 2004 is progressive in its provision of an equal duty for graduates of both philological and non-philological studies to pass a State specialist examination in written legal translation and oral court interpreting. The Act provides for disciplinary measures, the duty not to refuse a commission of a court or the police, to keep a register of commissions received, to comply with the rules of good practice, professional ethics, and confidentiality, and to upgrade professional qualifications. The Act is one of the most demanding among similar legislative instruments passed by other European states.
BOOKS AND PERIODICALS FOR SWORN TRANSLATORS
PUBLISHED UNDER TEPIS AUSPICES AND BY TEPIS SINCE 1991
THE CODE OF ETHICS AND BEST PRACTICES – The Professional Sworn Translator’s Code (2019).
Former Codes: The Code of the Court Translator (1991), The Sworn Translator’s Code (2005), The Sworn Translator’s Code (2011).
BIULETYN TEPIS – The newsletter called Biuletyn TEPIS has been published since 1990, containing reports on current events and vital problems affecting the profession, as from 2014 published electronically on www.tepis.org.pl .
LINGUA LEGIS – A journal on legal and specialized translation contains papers delivered at national workshops and international forums. As from 2015 Lingua Legis, formerly publushed by Translegis Publishing House, has become a journal of the Institute of Applied Linguistics Univeristy of Warsaw, with TEPIS auspices continued.
PARALLEL TEXTS – The first series of books published initially by the TEPIS Publishing House – since 2005, Translegis Publishing – were collections of parallel texts, i.e. documents and forms applied in judicial and administrative proceedings written originally in English, German, French, Russian, and Polish.
TRANSLATION STUDIES – A series of items in translation studies were published, such as The Introduction to the Theory of Translation by Olgierd Wojtasiewicz, Legal Translation by Danuta Kierzkowska, and The Interpreter in Criminal Proceedings by Janusz Poznański.
PROCEEDINGS – In the series of proceedings from the biannual International Forums of Court Interpreting and Legal Translation, held in Poland in 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2006, the last one was entitled ‘Court Interpreting and Legal Translation in the Enlarged Europe’. The International Forums held under FIT auspices in Graz (1998), Paris (2002), and Magdeburg (2004), were a continuation of the Polish initiative launched in Warsaw in 1992.
THE BOARD OF THE TEPIS SOCIETY IN 2020
10th TERM OF OFFICE 2017-2020:
President: Zofia Rybińska
Vice Presidents: Joanna Miler-Cassino, Marta Czyżewska
Secretary General: Ewa Dmyterko
Treasurer: Anna Setkowicz-Ryszka
Members of the Board:
- Małgorzata Andrzejewska
- Anna Halczak
- Krystyna Kołodziej
- Ewa Kościałkowska-Okońska
- Janusz Poznański
- Edward Szędzielorz
Honorary President: Dr. Danuta Kierzkowska
Secretary of the Board Office: Ewa Łuczyńska-Gut
Address: ul. Emilii Plater 25 lok. 44, 00-001 Warszawa, Poland
tel.: +48 519 745 823, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org