Have you ever tried making sense of a legal document? If yes, then surely you understand what a hard task it is. A simple contract of few pages alone, can take hours to go through, and even more cups of coffee. The sentences are way too complex, often too long and let us not forget the legalese.
All these elements make legal documents hard to read and understand. Can you imagine what it would be like if you were to translate them? In that light, it is important that you choose a legal translation company with good experience, and have professional translators available. Not only should they be familiar with the languages in question, but they must also have an academic background and a comprehensive understanding of the legal systems of both countries involved. It is a common misconception that legal documents are only required for the proceedings of the court. However, there are other documents like business contracts, terms & conditions, etc. that also come under that category.
Translation of these documents is often required for example, for businesses involved in importation and exportation.Like any other document that is translated, the main goal is to keep the meaning and the context intact. In legal documents however, it is a necessity. Even the slightest change or difference can cause catastrophic results and cost one much more than just one’s business’s reputation. Tips for Choosing the Right Translator.
To prevent such a disaster from happening it is essential that you do the following;
1. Hire an Expert with Knowledge.
A translator that has full command over the original language and the language that you want to translate into, is not enough. Legal documents require a lot more from a translator than the conversion of languages. The translator needs to be knowledgeable about the legal field to translate the document effectively.They should be familiar with specific terminologies in both the languages and should be able to construct sentences that convey the original message accurately.The reflection of the true intent and the original message is extremely vital in legal documents. There is no tolerance for even the smallest of errors. Just one terminology translated wrong can cost a company not only in terms of its reputation but also opens it up to potential lawsuits and significant financial loss.
2. Legal Translation Experience.
As we have already established, translating legal documents goes way beyond word-for-word translation. In order to get it right, the translator needs a number of other skills. For instance, there may be a document that makes no sense at all when translated literally. It requires the translator to understand, interpret, and create sentences that show the meaning of the sentences even if they are not the same exact words. Familiarity with the legal systems of both countries can be another example. The legal documents of every country have their own unique features. This requires a change in the format along with the language in order to fit the other country’s standards. A translator must be aware of these changes as well as be able to make these changes seamlessly.
3. Handle Linguistic Structures that do not have Direct Equivalents.
Every language has a specific structure of the way it is written. In English, especially in legal documents, the sentences are long, complex and written in the passive voice. This may become a problem when the document has to be converted into a language that uses an active voice instead. A translator must be experienced in such a situation. They should be able to subdue the situation while also making sure that the original message stays intact and the target market receives the right message when reading the document.
4. Strict Deadlines.
As someone once said “time is not an important thing, it is the only thing”. This saying is true for about anything in the world. Legal documents translation is no different. More often than not, translating legal documents comes with tight deadlines. You don’t want to hire someone who will mess things up in doing them quickly. Every word in legal matters is important. Hire a translator that is experienced in undertaking complex tasks with short deadlines and is also able to deliver high-quality content. Make sure that they have a history of delivering quality content in a short span of time.
5. Various Legal Precedents.
The law remains forever changing and evolving. Especially in countries that have common law legal systems. Common law isn’t recorded in statutes. In countries that have common law legal systems such as Wales or England, any legal case can bring forth a new law. This law is known as ‘precedent‘. These precedents are to be used as references in future similar cases and is open to interpretation. So in order to translate a document that needs to be competent in such complex dynamics, the translator needs not only the common knowledge of the law but to also remain up-to-date on recent activities. 6. Word Selection and Syntax is Important.
Misplacing a single full stop can cost your company a lot of money. That is how important syntax is when it comes to legal documents. One wrong word may change the whole meaning of a document. That is how important word selection is. ‘Let’s eat, Mama’ and ”Let’s eat Mama’, are different just by a comma and have huge differences. Mistakes like these in legal documents are not as humorous and can be rather costly. During the process of translation, the chances of such mistakes increase. Therefore, it is crucial to hire a translator that is responsible and takes special care of the syntax of the language and the words that are used.
Legal documents are often very confidential. In the hands of a wrong person, they can cause a lot of problems for you and your business. To ensure privacy, hire a professional company that offers confidentiality agreements so that you may trust your documents with them.