Legal translation is an important part of our work. We always use specialist legal translators, and assignments can vary significantly in size and complexity. Legal translation is quite different to other areas of translation, as it is all about extracting the literal meaning of the source text, often to the exclusion of readability. This is quite different to a marketing text, for instance, where the aim of the translator is to give the best rendering of the concept or idea in the target language.
Types of legal translation work we undertake include:
- Translating court documents, including witness statements and other evidence.
- Translation of recorded evidence such as police interviews, which have first been transcribed. (We also offer transcription services). The challenge for the translator with this type of text, is to give a correct rendering of the original, for example, how do you treat grammatical mistakes? In many areas of translation it is the explicit job of the translator to correct grammatical errors in the original source text when undertaking a translation assignment, with this type of text however, the translation has to be a faithful rendering of the original testimony, so if it includes things like repetition, stuttering, or poor grammar, this needs to be reflected in the translated text.
- Contract Translation: we are often asked to produce a bilingual copy of a contract, clause by clause, with the two languages side by side. The job of the translator is to faithfully reflect the original. A translation can be extremely helpful in understanding a contract written in another language, but it is always important to remember that legal systems vary, and legal concepts are not identical country to country. A translation is not a substitute for specialist legal advice.
- Official Document Translation: such as birth certificates, marraige certificates, exam certificates, bank statements, insurance forms. Documents can be stamped and signed on our headed paper, or sworn in front of notary. Please note that requirements for “certified translation” vary country to country, and between official bodies within individual countries. It is therefore really important to assertain any specific requirements. We would rather not undertake an assignment than risk a translation we provide being rejected by the body requiring the documents to be presented, which could mean a new translation being required, and the client having to pay twice. Please note that when translating a certificate of any kind, we are not authenticating it, simply providing an accurate translation of the text. It is extremely important that we receive the full document, including any stamps or seals, and that all footers and any writing on the back is supplied for translation. An incomplete document is likely to result in the translation and the original document being rejected by the receiving official body. Any text which is illegible will be marked as such, and we cannot change the wording in any way, e.g. an English name appearing with an obvious typo on an official foreign language document (Smiht for Smith for example), would have to be reflected with the typo on the translation. Where a foreign language certificate includes a name which could be transliterated into English in a number of ways, it is the responsibility of the person ordering the work to ensure that the preferred transliteration is supplied to us for translation.
- Translating business legal documents such as articles and memorandum of association, terms and conditions of business, legal notices for websites etc. We will translate the source text with which we are supplied, and take responsibility for correct and accurate translation of the source document, most translations however cannot be relied on for legal purposes in another country. For example if we translate your English terms and conditions of business for use on a website, which have been prepared under UK law, a French or German translation is really a “concession” to a French or German reader, and is not likely to be able to be relied upon in the event of legal action through the French or German courts. This is a complex area of law, requiring specialist legal advice.
- Patent Translation: patents are a specific highly specialist area of translation, and normally require both technical knowledge and specialist legal terminology to be used by the translator. Depending on the complexity of the patent, we may need to use translators with more than one specialism, and costs may be higher than for standard translations. Receiving the correct brief for a patent translation is also really importnat, for example is the translation to be used to support and application, or is the client opposing an application? This may affect how we undertake the work, if supporting an application, the brief to the translators is likely to be to produce a very high quality representation of the original application in the target languages, whilst if the translation is to be used to oppose an application, you may want the translators to expose every possible minor error or ambiguity of the source text.
- Translation of brand names, trademarks, and copywrited material: normal convention in translation is that in most circumstances brand names are not translated. Some brands have official translations in certain languages, and these should be supplied by the client as part of a glossary of terminology if required. The general rule with trademarks is that we will follow the source text, and if the source language has a trademark (and is shown as such), it will not be translated within the target language text. This can cause problems if the trademark is descriptive, as a reader of the target language won’t necessarily understand the description, one option can be to include the trademarked phrase, and to provide a translation in brackets alongside. When asking us to undertake a translation including a brand name, trademark or copywrited material the client undertakes that they have the right to use the material, and takes legal responsibility for the use, in accordance with our terms and conditions of business.
This is a brief overview and introduction to our legal translation services, more information can be found on our legal translation page. Legal translation assignments vary significantly in scope and scale, and you won’t find online quote forms on our site simply because translation needs vary significantly from one job to another. We are happy to discuss your legal translation needs so give us a call, or use our contact form to get in touch.