Any translation must be good enough to ensure the meaning of the source language is properly conveyed in the new target language. However all good translators know that the translation of a legal text demands an additional layer of accuracy and precision. Quite simply, a legal document must always be drafted in such a way that it absolutely complies with the law – a requirement which does not change just because the original text is translated into another language.
That’s why, on this page, lingoking would like to share some important information on how to translate your legal documents.
Why do you need legal document translation services?
Because the law applies to both personal and business matters, the need for a legal translation could arise in many different civil-law contexts such as family and immigration law, or the laws governing copyright and employment, as well as the criminal law.
These areas, and many more, often generate a host of official documents, perhaps including contracts, court documents or a witness testimony, which must be translated for many purposes – for the benefit of those who speak a different mother tongue, or to meet the requirements of international trading agreements being two common instances which call for legal translation services.
What particular problems arise with the translation of legal documents?
Whenever a legal document has to be reworded in a different language, the legal translator must be aware that countries with different forms of linguistic expression will invariably have a different legal system too. For the professional translator, that means a detailed and comprehensive knowledge of both legal systems is essential.
For instance, though all official documents must be translated with precision, a legal term in one country’s jurisdiction may be different – or have no exact equivalent – in another, and both translators and interpreters must be aware of the understandings and accepted conventions which apply in such circumstances. In addition, there are often stringent requirements for language professionals to be registered with a relevant accredited body before their translations or interpretative skills are recognised.
What further regulations apply?
Even after the difficulties of a legal translation have been overcome, the process is also subject to a further set of legal rules and regulations. These mostly concern documentary validation, often termed ‘certification’, and many courts and other official bodies will routinely demand a certified translation. Different understandings apply to the certification process, but the following concepts will be regularly encountered:
- Certified translation: usually describes a translation accompanied by a certificate which guarantees its accuracy.
- Notarised translation: refers to translations accredited by a notary public, who will be expected to verify the translator’s status and sign a certificate of authenticity attached to the legal translation.
- Apostille: an apostille is a special form of document authentication whose status is recognised internationally.
Beyond certification itself lie many other considerations which a professional translation agency will take into account, and be happy to explain to clients. In the UK for instance, an interpreter must undergo a DBS (formerly CRB) check designed to protect vulnerable people.