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Lawyer’s opinion for reporting suspected or actual criminal activities

06 Sep 2023

A post on our forum brought up the question of our obligation as translators and interpreters to report criminal activities that we encounter in the course of our work. This was such an important question that NZSTI sought a legal opinion on the matter, which you can downloand and read in full below. Here is an extract of the summary points:

The starting point is privacy and confidentiality: members should provide their services and not disclose information to other people. However, if a member is satisfied there is clear evidence of a crime and the public interest warrants disclosure, then they may disclose the relevant information to someone who can do something about the situation such as the police or other law enforcement agency. The threshold for disclosure is high: the member must be very sure that a crime has been committed or will be committed otherwise the member is at risk of being accused of a breach of privacy and a breach of confidentiality. The member should seek legal advice or support from NZSTI in this situation.

As an aside, members are not required to be a party to a crime or offence such as fraud. So, if a client is using the member’s services to create a fraudulent document or to lie to a government agency, the member can refuse to provide the services. The member would need to be very sure the client was engaging in criminal activity or blatantly lying.



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