A definition of a legal document translation is the translation of a text found in a legal system. This could include affidavits, identity documents, witness statements, filed patents, official reports, legal rulings, precedents, contracts, transcripts and financial documents just to name a few. There are other documents such as the will of a temporary overseas resident which may need a translation so that a probate solicitor can begin the probate process.

Overall in order to function well, legal translation services only provide translators who have specialist legal knowledge because of the possible repercussions when a mistranslation takes place. Contracts, in particular, can have serious legal and financial consequences for the business requesting the translation if a mistranslation takes place.

How to Ensure Legal Document Translators have the Right Skills

In some countries legal document translators are expected to complete specific degrees in business and legal translation. Some states like Brazil and Argentina require that legal translations are done by translators who are government certified. Countries like Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands expect legal document translators to swear under oath that their translations are correct. They have to sit exams in order to demonstrate their proficiency. In Italy legal translations need to be notarised by a legal professional. The United States doesn’t require a legal translator to be qualified, but if documents are transferred for government departments the translator is required to write and sign a statement stating that the translation is accurate.

Finding the right Legal Translator From a Legal Services

When choosing the right legal translator it’s important to check his or her qualifications and if he or she is a member of a language association that offers accreditation. Courts state that overall it is better to choose a translator whose mother tongue is the targeted language.

If you are looking for a legal translator to translate sensitive information or information that could be a security risk if it got into the wrong hands you may need to ask the translator to get a security clearance before being given the translation task.

The most important thing about legal translations is that usually literal translations of any source text don’t meet legal document translation requirements as they often don’t convey the meaning of the text accurately. This means that the legal translator has to translate according to different standards of social and cultural equivalence and not provide a verbatim linguistic legal translation that may miss the point entirely.  A literal translation word-for-word may be lacking in the knowledge of the legal and cultural context of the targeted language so inaccuracies could take place.

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