Sunday, April 14, 2024

What to Look for in a Translator for Legal Documents

Last updated Thursday, April 13, 2023 21:10 ET , Source: Absolute Translations

Professional legal translators speak dual languages and sometimes multiple languages or dialects fluently.

London, UK, 04/13/2023 / SubmitMyPR /
Translator for Legal Documents
Translator for Legal Documents

They also have expertise in specific areas of the law, perhaps in contractual law, patents, insurance or in translating certified documentation for visa applications.

This skill level and knowledge of the relevant legal systems in both countries is essential for accurate legal translation services, where mistakes could render a contract void, cause an unfavourable outcome, or create other serious issues.

Absolute Translations certified translations UK explains more about what goes into a professional, exceptional quality legal document and legal contract translation and the abilities and experience we'd recommend you prioritise when hiring any legal translator.

Understanding Professional Legal Translation Standards

Standards and professional qualifications vary between countries, but some certification is important to ensure the translator you select has appropriate knowledge.

For example, as a UK-based translation specialist with over 200 languages and 27 subject areas, Absolute Translations holds the following:

  • ISO 17100 and ISO 9001 accreditation marks
  • ATC and EUATC membership (Association of Translation Companies and comparable EU body)
  • Registration with the Information Security Systems regulator

These achievements represent a formal registration with trade bodies, ongoing quality assessments and independent oversight that our translation services comply with internationally recognised standards.

If you look for one accreditation, ISO 17100 is the most important, as a globally accepted standard governing the professional translation industry.

Independent translators may hold other qualifications, such as a diploma from the Chartered Institute of Linguists, which provides training courses for bilingual professionals, and interpreters, among others.

You need to hire an appropriately qualified translator for official translations, particularly where you must submit a certified translation, for example, to the Home Office. Visa documents prepared without an appropriate verification will be rejected.

Sector-Specific Knowledge for Legal Document Translations

Once you have established that a translator has the formal qualifications or accreditations to approve your translated legal documents as valid, the next step is to assess whether they properly understand the legal systems, regulations, or requirements.

Often, if you are translating a legal document from one language to another, you will need to adhere to legislation, such as the structure of your document, providing an index table, adding references or addendums where appropriate, or explaining a certain element.

Certifications are a good example; if you need to have a formal PhD or MSc record translated into a different language to be analysed against a comparable qualification requirement overseas, missing key information, or failing to include sufficient detail could mean your document is void.

Technical legal translators have an up-to-date, proficient working knowledge of both countries' respective rules and regulations. They will use this to inform the translation process rather than simply replicating the text.

The tone is also essential because a legal notice that is strongly worded in one language should reflect the same in another. If the wording does not convey the same urgency or meaning, the document's intention may not be enforced.

Our network of translators has various specialities, including:

  • Legal document translations
  • Contract translations
  • Patent translation service
  • Insurance translations
  • Certified visa document translations

We recommend looking for a translator with an in-depth understanding of the specific type of document you wish to translate, alongside a formal qualification and fluency in both languages, to ensure you achieve your required result.

How to Create a Legal Translation Brief

If you haven’t worked with a legal translator before, one of the best ways to ensure you hire the correct professional is to ensure you know exactly what you want them to do.

The nature of your translation may dictate your requirements, such as needing to hold a recognised qualification or conform to the mandatory rules set by a government agency. You may also need to comply with other instructions, such as:

  • Having your translation certified in the presence of a notary.
  • Being counter-signed by two professional translators.
  • Featuring your own signature or a certified translation of your ID documents.

Understanding the legal obligations within the target country is important because any deviations from the rules could mean repeating the translation process or experiencing further complexities if your documents are found to be non-compliant.

Common Issues in Legal Document Translations

One of the typical errors we encounter is missing the syntax – simple commas or full stops can change the meaning and context of a sentence or mean two clauses appear to be one paragraph, which could potentially mean they cancel each other out.

The syntax isn't a huge issue in personal communications, but in time-sensitive, formal, and legal documentation, poor punctuation and grammar can be detrimental.

This element is why fluency in two languages, including the source and target language, is crucial. What appears to be a straightforward mistake can create complications.

In legal terminology, syntax can also vary from the standard spoken language. If a comma that separates two elements of a complex sentence is missed, it could open the door for misinterpretation or ambiguity, which is one of the core things a legal document is designed to avoid.

The general rule is that syntax and punctuation should be replicated exactly, but this requires professional knowledge and an awareness of the contrasts between legal statutes. The Oxford comma is an example – it does not exist in many languages and can cause untold confusion if left in a document translated from English.

Finally, word selection is essential, as legal professionals and executives will carefully choose their phrases and terminology. Referencing a translation glossary is not effective. For example, in English insurance documentation, 'Actual Loss' means that the item referred to no longer exists.

Translating that into a different language, where the text appears to say ‘Loss’, could refer instead to an insured asset that has been damaged, stolen, or is no longer accessible by the claimant.

By researching thoroughly, being clear about the services you require, and selecting legal translators with all the skills, aptitudes and qualifications explored here, you should be able to proceed with your translation confidently.

Read more about Absolute Translations - Absolute Translations, UK Certified Translation Company, Achieve Cargon Negative Status In World Exclusive 

About Absolute Translations

Absolute Translations understands the importance of quality and reliability and this comes at the forefront of our translation services. Our many years of experience have made it possible for us to work with some of the most talented professional translators as well as leading global brands around the world in more than 200 languages, with business translation services from our London, UK and European offices.

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