difficulties in translating legal documents

The Unique Difficulties in Translating Legal Documents

As per the experts, words are unreliable guides to ideals. Nowhere does this notion hold more significance than in the case of legal translations. Wondering why? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons in detail-

Variances in Legal Systems

Legal systems are not the same all over the world. And unlike the accounting space, where Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP) essentially acts as a foundation for majority of financial interactions around the globe, legal system has no cohesive best practices covering the entire sphere. All this has given rise to a lot of ambiguity in translation – which has to be avoided at all cost.

Differences in Terminologies

Differences in vocabulary and usage are one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the translation of legal documents. Unless the service provider is well-versed with all the nitty-gritties of legal-nuances of each language, chaos is likely to follow.

The best example of this mayhem is the interpretation of the Warsaw Convention (1929), which offers a unification of certain rules relating to international carriage by air. When the conviction, which was in French, was integrated into English Law, the French word ‘blessure’ was loosely translated as ‘wounding’ rather than ‘injury.’ But as per English grammar, the term ‘wounding’ is typically related to physical harm caused by violence. And this made the court to repeatedly go back and forth to refer the original version written in a foreign language and understand the kind of injury sustained during air travel every time there was a dispute.

It is also worth mentioning that the translator of this convection also placed bodily injury and death in different parts in the sentence; essentially, separating them and making them a bone of contention while establishing liability.

Syntactic Variations

Punctuations such as commas, periods, apostrophes and colons that help shape the syntax of a sentence needs to be handled very carefully when it comes to legal translation.

Moving punctuations around and causing minor changes to the syntax can totally alter the meaning of a sentence even within the same language.

Tone or Register

Effective translation can only occur when you give utmost importance to the tone or register of a legal document. Often times, rookie translators concentrate on getting the meaning across accurately and fail to retain the original tone of the legal document. This can lead to complicated issues: for instance, the sternness of tone of a legal notice may be lost; or the standard tone of a deposition may be changed in the translated document.

The bottom-line is that legal translation is not an easy task. It demands the creativity required by literary translation and precise of technical translations. Hence the best way to make sure that you have the upper hand at critical junctures of a legal battle is to outsource this task of translating legal documents to a professional service provider like us.

We have considerable experience in translating legal documents for legal systems around the world. Our team comprises translators who are either lawyers or experts in legal terminology and so understanding the practice of law in other countries and translating docs like including agreements, depositions, powers of attorney, statutes, etc. comes easy to our executives. Additionally, we have a well-established translation process to ensure error-free legal translations.