The importance of professionally translated legal documents

  • 24/07/2017

When people ask why it’s crucial to have legal documents translated professionally, we here at Capita TI respond that an incorrect translation can lead to extremely serious consequences.

Translation and the law are both very different entities, but the word of the law is the word of the law – whether it’s in a statute, a contract, a patent, a confidentiality agreement or a witness statement, and it must be accurate in any language. Ensuring that legal terms are correct, in the language they are being translated into, is vital.

You don’t have to be in the legal profession to understand that words which appear the same often have multiple meanings.

For example:

  • Patent: the legal right to manufacture, use or sell an invention – or a shiny type of leather.
  • Binding: something that is bound by law – or an attachment that anchors a ski boot to a ski.
  • Award: amount of damages assessed by a court – or a type of prize for a good performance.

With the English language being so complex, think about the difficulties around translating this into other languages.

Why is legal translation so intricate?

Like any other written document, legal documents can contain suggestion; intentionally included in order to persuade or influence. Maintaining that nuance isn’t always easy, and demands close attention by experts in both the law and linguistics. Similarly, the law is open to interpretation. By ‘interpretation’ in this case, we mean how it is understood legally, not linguistically. Clarity is vital, in order to avoid confusion and misinterpretation.

What are the consequences for not using a professional legal translator? Inaccurate evidence, leading to wrongful convictions and jeopardising reputations, finance – even lives.

The alternative?

Professional LSPs (Language Service Providers) offer multilingual legal translation services for all legal documentation and transcription including business contracts, patent documents, and software applications such as virtual data room solutions for mergers, acquisitions and commercially sensitive deals. Not only do LSPs come with qualified, native translators, but the entire translation process is managed with a secure system, in order to protect businesses private data. Any content that you run through a free, online translation tool isn’t protected, and could be seen by, or leaked to anyone.

When what’s at stake is so important, it’s not worth risking it with a cheap translation.

Jackie is a Business Development Manager, based in our London office. She’s been working in the language industry since 2012 and has over 20 years’ sales experience.

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