Lionbridge Technologies has won a €1.96 million contract to provide interpreter services to the Irish courts for a four-year period.
The US group will provide interpreters at courts across the State. They will be involved in interpreting sworn testimony by defendants and witnesses, submissions by lawyers and judges' rulings. Around 200 languages and dialects will be covered by the contract.
Until now, the Courts Service has relied on a number of different contractors, depending on the language involved and the location of the court.
Demand has increased around elevenfold in the past few years, said a Courts Service spokesman, with the bill last year coming close to €1.5 million. "We wanted to ensure quality of service and so went to international tender for this contract," he added.
"With Lionbridge's deep interpretations and language expertise and our broad pool of resources across hundreds of languages, we will ensure the long-term success of this business partnership," said Sherif Gayed, director of interpretations for Ireland and Britain at Lionbridge.
Lionbridge is the world's largest language solutions company with 4,000 staff globally. The US company, which has had a presence in Ireland for a number of years and employs 500 people here, secured its first contract for interpreting services in 2003 with the Department of Justice.
In June, Lionbridge was declared the preferred bidder for the contract on the basis that it had submitted the most "economically advantageous" tender.
The Courts Service expects Lionbridge will be able to supply interpreters with "Level 4 qualifications" - ie, either an English speaker with third-level qualifications in the language concerned plus qualifications specific to interpreting, or a native speaker with a third-level qualification in English and subsequent qualifications in interpreting - at least for the most commonly used foreign languages in the Irish courts, such as Cantonese, Mandarin, French, Romanian and Russian.
"Working with Lionbridge, the Courts Service will be able to effectively manage the influx of new nationalities and languages into Ireland," said John Mahon, procurement manager for the Courts Service.