The Importance Of Legal Document Translation

What does ‘legal translation’ mean?

Legal translation, is, as the name suggests, the translation of legal text into more simplified every-day language, or of course into a completely different language.

Legal documents are, for the majority of people, extremely difficult to fully understand and even more difficult to translate. By definition, the text will be laden with jargon, legal-speak and often, to the untrained eye, make little or no sense.

Why is legal document translation necessary?

Legal document translation is necessary to clarify the document’s meaning in a manner most people will comprehend.

Legal documents are important documents, they are drafted in a way intended to safeguard against ambiguity. The documents are regularly used in the drafting of, such things as, contracts, wills and, of course, legal proceedings.

Why is translation so specialised?

The answer is simple, legal documents are shrouded within a minefield and plethora of legal complexities.

Translation of such documents requires an experienced legal expert who understands all the legal terminology and, often complicated, legal nuances. More importantly, such texts require an expert translator who fully understands the ramifications of an incorrect or vague translation.

Translation of any such texts must be thorough and must represent a clear and accurate interpretation of the document’s original intended meaning. So you can get legal documents translated online, you just need to be careful.

An incorrect translation/interpretation could lead to a severe miscarriage of justice, or the very least incur an unfair judgement or loss to an ‘innocent’ party.

Therefore, the translation of legal documents must be undertaken by a duly qualified expert.

International factors

To make matters even more complicated, it is frequently the case that such legal documents have been drafted in a foreign language, in a country with completely different sets of legal rules and demands. First off, the text has to be:

  1. Fully understood from a legal perspective, and then
  2. Translated, in this instance, to English
  3. Then, translated into decipherable plain English

All this has to be achieved with the utmost, meticulous, care. At every stage, the translation must remain true to the intent, and meaning, of the original document. Also, bearing in mind there’s often a vast diversity in cultures, expectations and codes of behaviour and practice from one country to another.

Translating legal documents can be a really complicated and unenviable task, not to be undertaken by the faint of heart!

Should all legal documents be translated?

Well, no! Every-day legal documents in respect of, shall we say, mortgages, insurances, bank loans etc. can, and usually are, taken at face value, with a little explanation from an appropriate agent.

However, more complicated, unusual circumstances may well warrant clarification through translation; perhaps a dispute over ‘right of way’, an interpretation of the legal facts in a criminal case or even, where the stakes are extremely high, in a government’s decision to invade another country.

It really is a case of ‘horses for courses’.

Most of the population sign into contracts without a moment’s thought; with the telephone, electric, gas and internet provider for example. These are simple to understand, legal, straight forward contracts.

What could possibly go wrong!