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Legal translation is a system of rules. The purpose of law is to regulate conduct through social or governmental institutions. It uses content and terms within the legal system prevailing in the country where the source document originated.
With each day passing our world becomes more and more globalized and the necessity for legal translation grows. Even though language barriers do exist, we should mention that law itself can be considered as a unique language of its own, as it comprises immense terminology that relates to law only, specific syntax and can be interpreted solely by professionals. Law is undoubtedly a vital part of our life both as people but also as citizens to a particular country.
It is a fact that each country has created its own legal system under which it operates. There are cases however where different parts of the country operate under different laws.
We can take as an example the United States, which are commonly known for their structurally divided legal system. They do have federal laws that apply for the whole country, but each of their fifty states actually has their own state laws. Each state is considered as a separate sovereign.
Having in mind that, all sorts of agreements, contracts etc. could not possibly be written to apply for each state. They need to be tailored to fit the specific requirements otherwise they could prove void. Rules on purchases, warranties, and consumer protection could even differ on local level.
All these complicated rules are left to the translators to deal with. Bearing this in mind you can try to comprehend the intricacy of translating texts of legal nature. It is as hard a task as any other and only a handful of translators has what it takes for an impeccable translation.
Many things can go wrong but it is important to consider the impact that a legal translation can have. Legalese (the formal language of legal documents) can be truly confusing and only skilled translators with in-depth knowledge of the subject matter could produce accurate translations. Let’s consider the possible ramifications when dealing with legal translations.
One of the examples is legal liability. You should keep in mind that even the slightest of errors could result in incurring costs and even further legal ramifications. A single change in structure or punctuation for example could negate the entire document and this is a very worrisome scenario. Mistranslation of a name or identity can potentially lead to legal difficulties or in some instances court proceedings.
A word about confidentiality – very popular topic these days. Documents of legal nature are typically considered confidential.
This means that while you would want to do anything in order to meet timelines, splitting the content among several translators might not be an option.
Legal documents may be bound by very strict confidentiality agreements.
When choosing a legal translation service, it is crucial to get to know the steps the agency or translator has taken to protect the safety and confidentiality of your information.
Furthermore, the agency or translator should provide a secure way to hand over and store the documents. Electronic transfer and storage could be potentially dangerous and information could leak if the necessary measures are not taken in advance.
Another thing that should be well-considered when dealing with legal texts is the tone of voice. The tone of a legal document could be of great importance. For example, documents in English are mostly written in active voice. However, this is not applicable for all languages.
If your target language requires different structure, say passive voice, then the translator would need time and expertise to restructure the translation.
It should be taken into account that law itself might be rigid but it is ever-changing as well. It could be particularly challenging to be up-to-date with all legal precedents that might have been altered. Even more so, if you need to be conversant with all those technicalities in several countries (especially true for bilingual and trilingual translators).
Admittedly, it might not seem as an easily achievable task as it requires full dedication on the translator’s part. Without such dedication, however, it is impossible to be recognized as an expert in this field.
In order for a translation to be deemed certified then the translation agency or the translator have to issue a signed statement.
The statement should declare the translation was done in accurate and truthful representation of the original document. Rule of thumb is that you would need your translations certified when submitting legal documents. Such documents could be different certificates, court transcripts, service agreements, etc.
A translation that is certified provides a legal record. This is precisely why government and legal bodies require certified translations to be submitted.
It is highly likely that a certified translation would be needed for various types of legal paperwork.
So as to achieve an authenticated translation some jurisdictions require notarization before the document/s could be legally accepted.
Examples of such documents are powers of attorney, certified copies of official documents, documents that were initially issued in another country, etc. A notary public will apply their signature on the document and seal it as well as confirming the identity and authority of the signatory.
A notary public can legally acknowledge, or notarizes, the identity of the signatory, however they cannot attest the terminology is accurate. This is why it is so important to work with specialized translators or language service providers.
If you are in doubt whether you need your translation to be notarized, it would be best to inquire of the official or legal body in front of which you need to present the document.
It is true that there could be many challenges when translating legal documents. Luckily there are language service providers (LSPs) that have the needed expertise to carry out spotless legal translations.
If you understand what to look for you will be able to make an adequate decision that ultimately meets your requirements. If you are uncertain, then please research this topic and get in touch with professionals who can explain better and give you understanding of the processes and requirements.
Legal translations are not easy to undertake and translators play a pivotal role in them. You might ask why? Because law in its entirety affects every area of our lives, from signing a contract with a new employer to accepting terms and conditions of a company, translated legal documents define what an individual, government or a company can or cannot do what a government or company or individual can or cannot do.
Every time we put our signature on any piece of paperwork we are legally bound to it. It is imperative that a professional translator with the required skills is translating our documentation. Otherwise we just might end in a troublesome situation to say the least.
If you are utterly confused by the laws’ requirements, don’t be afraid, you are not alone. Law is to some extent sacred and not everyone possesses the needed knowledge to operate with it. And you don’t need to, either!
Language service providers and translators are here to lift that weight off your shoulders. Whether you need a birth certificate or court hearing to be translated there are multiple options to choose from. But yet again, choose wisely and keep in mind the essentials – trustworthy suppliers and professionals with vast expertise in the industry.
You should be aware that in order to produce accurate translations linguists should work hand in hand with professionals such as lawyers, notaries, etc. Translators should always stay informed of the most current legal requirements. Those are the key components for accurate legal translation that will serve its purpose. By having those you are most certainly on your way to success.
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