What to expect from your legal translation services

Welcome to the first blog in our new series, where we delve into the different genres of translation, and give you information and advice ahead of preparing for your upcoming translation projects and interpreting assignments. 

In this first article, we’re going to introduce the legal translation genre, and explain how it differs from other translation services. Then we’ll explore all of the other factors which need to be taken into account when producing an excellent legal translation, so that you know what you can expect from our legal translation service at Teneo Translations.

How do you define a legal translation?

Simply put, a ‘legal translation’ is an umbrella term for the translation of documents related to the law. 

They can include: 

  • Patents
  • Contracts
  • Court documentation
  • Immigration paperwork
  • User and service agreements
  • Birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates

Did you know that there are specialised legal translators out there? As well as being qualified professional translators, they also have a background in law and advanced knowledge of the legal sector. By using a legal translator, you can rest assured that your legal documents will be effectively and accurately translated into their target language. 

Writing style and terminology

When you think about legal documents, what are the first things that spring to mind?

  • Factual, and Informative?
  • Authoritative and persuasive?
  • Using subject specific legal terminology?
  • Straight to the point, with no room for interpretation?

A skilled legal writer is accurate, credible, professional, concise, and authentic, to name a few things. So is a legal translator. They will translate your documents in an appropriate writing style, which is accurate, and leaves no room for misinterpretation. 

Legal translators can precisely translate complex legal terminology, using their subject-specific knowledge and expertise. Compared to other writing genres, like marketing, legal translations tend to follow the source text more accurately.

Consistency and context

Consistency means greater accuracy. It’s important to maintain consistency across larger documents, and multiple documents relating to the same subject matter or case. 

There are some words which have multiple meanings in translation. For example, ‘attestation’ in French, can be either ‘certificate’, ‘testimonial’, ‘proof’, or ‘statement’ in English, which are all words which can be found and used in a legal context. Linguists with a thorough understanding of the context and type of document can make sure they use the correct terminology and produce more accurate results.

We’ve got methods in place to help optimise consistency across multiple translations. By using up-to-date translation tools and databases, we ensure that our translators have easy access to past translations and glossaries. They will be able to see any identical past translations, text repetitions, and glossary matches while they work, saving them time and making sure things are accurate and consistent.

We can collaborate with you to develop glossaries, and communicate key terminology and terms which need to be used, and provide a clear line of communication between you and the translation team so that your project runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. 

Geographical region

Laws, legal systems, and requirements can vary from country-to-country, depending on the geographical region. It’s not enough to just be a native speaker of the target language. Your legal translator will need to communicate across different jurisdictions and legal systems, as well as languages. They’ll need to have an in-depth and up to date working knowledge of the country that they are translating for. This is why the majority of our legal translators live and work in their native country.

Remember that different countries or regions that speak the same language will still have differences in culture, jurisdiction, terminology and writing style, so make sure that you’re clear on what language variant to use. For example, you wouldn’t want a legal translator from Canada, Australia, or the US to translate for documents destined for the UK.

Formatting

Translations need to be formatted as per the requirements of the legal jurisdiction for which it is being translated. There can be differences in formatting between common law and civil law jurisdictions, and if the required formats aren’t adhered to in some specific cases, they might be considered invalid. 

Your translator will also ensure that all times, dates, names, addresses and phone numbers are written correctly in their country format, so that there’s no room for misunderstanding. Let’s take date formatting as an example. 05/06/23 would read as 6 May to an American reader, and 5 June to a British person. This could be extremely problematic if not formatted correctly for the target audience.

Some other things to consider…

Certification

Many legal document translations (especially certificates) require certification by a registered translation company. We’re able to certify documents that we have translated, as per UK government guidance. That means that we’ll add a dated declaration signed by the translator stating that it is ‘a true and accurate translation of the original document’, along with our company details.

Timings

We understand that sometimes time can be tight for legal translations, and missing a deadline can be costly. We’re ready to react quickly to your requests. Don’t worry if you have a lot of documents and not so much time. We can assemble a team of specialist legal translators to work together, using our translation technology to yield the best and most consistent results as possible. 

Ready for the next step?

Legal documents are highly sensitive, and must be treated with strict confidentiality throughout the entire process (that’s why we’ll only work with trusted translators who we’ve personally vetted, and have signed our NDA). They also need to be precisely accurate, and completely watertight. By working with an expert team of legal translators who have specialist knowledge and continually stay up-up-date with the legal field, we avoid mistranslations and errors, which can cause catastrophic results – damaged relationships, legal disputes, and delayed processes, to name a few. 

Do you need a trusted translation partner to handle all of your legal document translations? At Teneo Translations, we thrive on maintaining long-term, happy partnerships with clients and linguists through excellent services and clear communication. Get in touch here, and a member of our team will get back to you shortly to discuss.

References

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/importance-legal-translation-transatlantictranslations/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11196-020-09704-x

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