The challenges of legal translation

Category: Law Other


Every translation presents its own unique challenges – from full localisation to coping with slang, several areas need to work together to make a text “speak” to those reading it. Legal text can prove especially tricky to translate due to the specifics; being too vague can easily cause a headache for all involved. So how do you surmount the difficulties of translating legal text? 

Our linguistic experts discuss the problems you can face with translating legal text and how to avoid all too costly mistakes…

What legal translations might I need?

We live in an increasingly international world; globalisation has made opportunities for investment or working abroad possible for many. This seismic shift has led to an increasing demand for the translation of legal text. From patent files to business contracts, government documents to terms of service, a whole host of legal documents can require translation.

Businesses operating in international markets with employees in multiple countries often need to translate certain key texts. This includes documents relating to HR and employment, such as contracts, visas and insurance policies. Dependent on the industry, there may also be confidentiality agreements, banking documents and financial statements. Companies wishing to import and export will also need to consider the specific impact of translation requirements upon their businesses.

Court and government documents, such as statements, transcripts and certificates, may also need to be made available in another language.

What makes translating legal text so challenging?

The challenges of legal translation mainly boil down to the differences in legalese across countries. The formal and technical language used often does not directly translate, but, in order to ensure agreements are watertight between all parties, it’s vital to exclude any ambiguity. In case of certain languages that use vaguer ways of expressing specific points, documents need to stress important points with equal emphasis in each language. Using the right punctuation and syntax is also testing as this can vary between languages too.

The difficulties of translating legal text also extend to the laws in different countries and their differing legal systems. While time is often of the essence for translation, it is worth considering the additional pressure of court dates that must be adhered to when translating legal documents.

 

Ensuring accurate translation of legal text

While online translation tools – such as Google Translate – may be of use on holiday or for short phrases, they don’t represent a serious alternative to professional translation services for legal texts and should be avoided entirely for any confidential materials.

The expert translator you choose should not only have excellent language skills but should also closely understand the legal system in the country of jurisdiction where the translated text will be used. It’s important to find a translator who can interpret the text and make relevant changes to documents where required for linguistic reasons. A good legal translator should understand the legalese and jargon and be able to interpret it with confidence, as well as being aware of data security requirements.

At Albion Languages, our experienced project management team understands the challenges of legal translation. We appreciate how confidential many legal documents are and how crucial it is to have suitable processes to ensure absolute confidentiality.

Do you have a challenging legal translation that you need support with? Contact our experts to discuss your requirements today!

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