Put in plain terms, legal document translation means the translation of texts within the field of law from one language to another. But, because the law is culture-dependent, the job also entails using content and terms that are accepted by the legal systems practiced in both countries.
As a result, a translator working with legal documents, in London or anywhere else in the world, must understand the terminology and use it properly to describe concepts, definitions, and technical terms. So, working in this translation niche doesn’t necessarily need to be linguistically transparent and easy to understand by a non-trained party.
However, the result must be clear and concise in order to avoid uncertainty and unclear expressions. As such, the task of translating legal documents is more challenging, in terms of legal and moral responsibility, than the task of translating literary works (which is no picnic, either!).
The Challenges of Legal Document Translation
In a world where businesses and people are no longer bound by country (or even continental) borders, legal translation services slowly became a necessity. As such, as a professional agency, we work with:
- individuals who need our help with official documents for employment or immigration
- solicitors who employ our services for more extensive work
- businesses that need help with preparing contracts and agreements for their headquarters overseas
- governmental agencies that need our assistance on a wide array of legal texts
This can’t be said about anyone who practices the art of translation, which is why you must be careful when you’re deciding who to hire! While the services of an official legal translator may be a bit more costly, it is worth investing a bit more in high-quality.
For instance, a translator specialised in the legal field (such as our collaborators) will always keep the following in mind:
- The legal system of the source text and its legal language
- The legal system for which the text is being prepared (the translation language)
- Technological acuity
- Possible lexical gaps between the two languages and legal systems
- The type of the legal document (sworn statements, certificates, patents, legal reports, testimonials, and more)
- Lingual conventions
So, an English to German legal translation will require a different level of preparedness and work than, let’s say, an English to French legal translation.
Inaccuracies in legal document translation can lead to conflicts, financial losses, and even violation of rights and liberties. Therefore, some countries have special requirements for linguist specialists who want to become legal translators.
For instance, some countries require legal translators to have a special degree in business and law. In other countries, like Argentina and Brazil, legal translators must be certified by the state, while in Sweden, Spain, and The Netherlands, they need to swear an oath.
Finally, in some countries, specialists who work closely with the legal system are closely monitored and regularly examined, to make sure their proficiency and performance don’t drop. While this is not the case in countries like the UK or the US, there is still a lot of pressure on legal translators to be up to date with all the terminology.
As such, it’s easy to understand why the field is more complex than any other translations and why the costs are higher.