It’s hard to understand why organisations, commercial and non-commercial, still choose the cheapest option when it comes to translating some of the most technical of all documents that must be converted into another language. When the need for the translation of legal documents arises, such as evidentiary and financial documents, the lack of a professional legal translator becomes most obvious, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

It cannot be stressed enough just how important it is that official legal documents of all types be translated efficiently and accurately. Without a professional legal translation, the parties that depend on knowing what a document is telling them may at best only get part of the information they need and even this may be distorted.

The case against automated translation

In the age of the Internet, it is reasonable to understand just why it is that otherwise sensible organisations turn to automated translation tools rather than a professional legal translation service using human translators. Just about every other service these days from banking to shopping seems to be automated without the need for human intervention. You book flights online using a computer generated booking system. Why not subject the documents you need in another language to the same process. Surely, it must be as good as the human mediated kind and certainly a lot cheaper!

The reality is that important documents, especially legal ones, just cannot yet be translated with any degree of accuracy by automated translation tools, of which Google Translate is probably the best known, although certainly it’s not the only one.

There are a number of very specific reasons why a professional legal translation service should be chosen every time important legal documents are required to be translated.

  • The highly specific and complex terminology in legal documents

Most automated translation tools just don’t have the vocabulary to handle complex legal terminology. The use of simpler words and phrases could have serious implications at the end point of the translated text. It might mean a client looking elsewhere for someone more professional; a lost court case; a patent application misfiled or not accepted; a lawsuit that fails to win its case.

  • Nuances of both legal terminology and legal application are lost

when automated translation tools are used. Professional legal translators have spent years in both the legal world as well as familiarising themselves with the languages they translate. It’s impossible to substitute for that human depth of expertise, although it’s also impossible to rule out the possibility that there may be a day in the future when translation f this complexity becomes the norm.

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