Translating legal texts – what to watch out for

Photo credit: Sebastian Pichler

The translation of legal texts is different to other specialist translations in many ways. Linguistic and textual accuracy are always important, but comprehensibility, terminology and certification could be equally significant – it all depends on the client.

Legal translation – a challenging discipline

If you want to translate a legal document from one language to another, the challenges will not be minor. As well as the two languages, the translator needs vast knowledge of specialist vocabulary in order to translate legal terms as precisely and correctly as possible. Even for specialists this is not always easy. Different countries have different laws. In the worst case, a translation is not possible at all and the use of a legal document in a different country becomes a legal matter.

It is therefore important to decide what a legal translation needs to do in terms of legal validity and effectiveness.

Legal translations for companies and individuals

In many cases, an accurate translation of documents like contracts, terms and conditions, data protection guidelines, terms of use or rulings is enough. A translation is not officially valid as a legal document in court, but is sufficient for persons not in judicial or state roles as a way to understand the source document.

Services that go beyond translation are only necessary if the document is being presented before a court or an official authority. With a business transaction, like purchase, rental or employment contracts, it’s important to know what conditions you are agreeing to before you sign. A correct translation makes understanding and negotiating much easier.

Language support can also be an important service for law firms. If documents or written communication are in another language, translation is a fast way to give you an overview of the facts. Lawyers that work with international clients can profit from having rulings, contracts or any written communication translated into German or the client’s language.

Naturally the content of legal texts deals with serious matters, so the quality and accuracy of the translated text is extremely important. Customers can protect themselves by making sure to use translators that work according to ISO 17100. This certificate guarantees the qualifications of the translators, editors and project management, as well as the levels of quality assurance and data security.

Certified translations

If a document needs to be presented in court or before an official authority, a certified translator needs to confirm the correctness and completeness of the translation with their signature and seal. EnglishBusiness works with multiple certified translators and you can find a list of sworn translators in Germany in the Portal der Landesverwaltungen.

If a document is to be used beyond national borders, an apostille might also be necessary. This is a legal certification that makes a document valid internationally and is a separate step from the certified translation.

Legal translations at EnglishBusiness

EnglishBusiness offers specialist translations of documents like contracts, securities prospectuses, audit certificates, articles of association, terms and conditions and court rulings. We use experienced legal translators and extensive terminology databases. Along with our conformity to ISO 17100, we can guarantee precise translation, trustworthiness and individualised service.

Do you work with legal texts or international partners? We’re here to help!

Robert Rothe
Marketing and Partner Manager

Robert grew up in Hamburg, but has strong South African roots. At EnglishBusiness he is the German translation editor, manages our pool of external translators and creates our marketing content. In his free time you’ll find him running around the Alster. In this blog he writes about the German language, South Africa, sports and our beautiful port city.

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