International legal processes: see how translation works in this case

Learn more about the translation of legal processes and how professional services can ensure the quality and truthfulness of translated documents

Although the legal sector is becoming increasingly global, it is still heavily regulated. Clear and concise communication with customers is of vital importance, especially when dealing with personal and/or sensitive information.

And among these regulations, we have the translation of legal processes.

As the name suggests, legal translation deals with texts within the scope of Law. Legal matters vary from country to country, so only professional translators specialized in legal translation should work on these documents.

Translated texts must be accurate because poor translations can have serious consequences, including financial losses or future disputes in court.

The sensitive nature of legal documents – combined with their importance in the legal field – means these documents should only be translated by specialized and experienced linguists.

Learn what legal translation is and how it works:

What is legal translation?

This translation modality includes texts in the legal systems, which vary from country to country.

Legal process translation requires translators to master the language pair involved and to be deeply familiarized with the legal systems of both countries involved. Only then will the translation of legal terminology be accurate and natural-sounding.

Culture also directly affects this process, so linguists must consider cultural factors when translating. Legal systems evolve from the use of different legal expressions, which are unique in a jurisdiction.

Besides such complexity, different laws apply to different fields, such as media, technology, finance, manufacturing, among others.

For these reasons, it is not possible to make simplified translations when it comes to legal documents.

Correspondence between the original text and the translation is crucial and requires legally binding rights and duties. Translators cannot make mistakes as these would lead to delays or, more seriously, lawsuits and financial losses.

Legal language

It can be said that “legal communication” is a language of its own. Like science and religion, legal terminology requires consistency, accuracy and respect for tradition.

Translators must be aware of the cultural, social and linguistic equivalence of both languages involved. In addition to adapting to the specific legal terminology, translators must always keep in mind that all sentences, hidden meanings and nuances must be kept as accurate as possible.

Also, legal systems, rights and regulations differ between countries and cultures, so translators should have a deep understanding of the legal system in each country involved.

Legal process translation services are required by many sectors, from technology and media to finance, life sciences and manufacturing.

One should also consider that law firms work with different fields of law, such as banking, dispute resolution, employment and benefits, insurance, intellectual property, private equity, real estate and litigation, among others.

Which documents require legal translation?

Legal translation is often required by international institutions, global companies, law firms and courts, for example.

Any document that will be used by the legal system in a country whose language is different from the one in which the original text was written may require legal translation, which may include:

  • Witness statements
  • Legal decisions and precedents
  • Patents filed
  • Transcripts
  • Official reports
  • Financial documents
  • Contracts
  • CD or tape recordings

There is also a wide variety of texts, such as certificates, which are also encompassed by the umbrella term “legal document”.

However, legal process translation is not just intended for law firms or large corporations. Legal texts can be found in the terms and conditions of a website, for example, or in sales brochures and catalogs.

As a rule, any document part of a lawsuit may require legal translation, even if it is not a legal document – such as birth certificates and passports, for example.

Are human translators better?

Yes, human translation should always prevail over machine translation for legal documents.

The level of accuracy required means that professional human linguists are crucial to legal translation.

Some translations require extensive expertise in a specific area. Because of the level of specific and specialized topics, and context-dependent terminology, machine translation will not be enough for legal documents.

Translators should also be familiar with the purpose of the document, which can influence translation. Although advanced, machine translation is certainly not effective enough to provide quality translations in this area.

For example, is your document intended for the general public or is it a legally binding text?

Regulations for legal translators

Unlike regular translators, sworn translators must follow certain rules and regulations.

Some countries require state-certified translators for sworn translation, including Brazil and Argentina, for example.

In countries like Spain, Sweden and Holland, however, linguists are required to work with “sworn translation”. This means translators take an oath and are regulated and examined centrally.

This is to ensure that their translation services are proficient. They are then authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to translate official documents.

Countries like Italy require a legal professional to certify all legal translations. These precautions and requirements show how important it is for legal translations to be, above all, accurate.

How long does sworn translation take to be completed?

To ensure a more technical and accurate legal process translation, you will need time.

Translation of a small contract can take only a day or two, but an entire case file can take a week, two, or even more, depending on the size.

First of all, choose a translation agency that is experienced in translating legal documents and that can translate both languages perfectly. This combination will produce effective, high-quality legal translations.

When it comes to legal translation, remember to count on professionals only. At Fidelity, we are the experts you can trust.

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