There is more to legal translation than it meets the eye. You can’t just translate words from one language into another and call it a day. Legal document translation demands much more.
A simple mistake in legal translation can have serious consequences. No one wants a misinterpretation or translation error ruining the validity of a legal document. That’s why accuracy and quality of translation play such an important role in legal document translation.
Legal documents refer to legal rulings, birth certificates, wills, litigation papers, patents, financial documents, medical records, confidentiality agreements, and so on. All of these documents demand high precision and quality in terms of translation.
If you need to get a legal document translated or if you want to give it a try yourself, you should be well aware of all the ins and outs of legal translation.
To help you get a better understanding of legal document translation, here are 7 things you need to know about it.
1. There Are Two Types of Legal Documents Translation
Legal document translation can be carried out through two processes:
Standard legal translation
In standard legal translation, a translator with legal translation experience is the one who translates the legal document. Based on their legal background, they make sure that the document is accurately translated and legally accurate. These translators know all the legal terminology and typically have a certification for translating legal documents.
Translation with legal review
Translation with legal review includes standard legal translation followed by lawyer’s legal review. After the translation is done, the lawyer will review the document to verify whether the content is accurate and applicable to the target country. The lawyer will also make suggestions for correction, if necessary.
2. Some Legal Document Translation Must be Certified by a Professional
In certain situations and certain countries, translated legal documents must be certified by a professional to be valid. They demand that the document has a Certified Translation Badge, proving that a certified translator was responsible for the translation.
Before you start the translation process, check with a lawyer or court whether this applies to your documents as well. You don’t want your translated document to be rejected in court because it wasn’t handled by a professional.
3. The Accuracy of Target Document Depends on the Accuracy of Source Document
The translator isn’t responsible for correcting the source document. They may point out some peculiarity. However, they are in no obligation to do so. What’s more, changing the source document by a translator is unethical and even illegal.
Keep in mind that the translator’s job is solely to ensure the source document’s correct translation. The accuracy of the source document is the client’s responsibility.
Before you submit the document for a translation (or you start translating a legal document), thoroughly review the content. If there are any inaccuracies or mistakes, get them fixed before you start with the translation.
5. Do Not Risk Using Machine Translation for Legal Document
Using a free machine translator like Google Translator can be tempting. However, you should know that machine translation can never provide you with the accuracy and quality of human translation.
While using Google to translate some everyday content is fine, opting for legal documents is highly risky. Machines make mistakes. Machines don’t use trusted legal sites as a reference for translation. They carry out a word-per-word translation.
You can’t expect a machine translator software to check all legal regulations and amendments of the target country necessary for accurate translation. In serious matters such as legal document translation, machines aren’t trustworthy.
Major errors that machines can make can ruin a document’s validity and leave you with legal troubles. Therefore, you should leave machine translation for simpler translation endeavors.
6. Trust Only in Professional Translators with Experience
Hiring any translation service can’t guarantee you the quality and accuracy you want. Many translation services will gladly accept new work, even if they aren’t qualified for legal document translation. However, they will get you to sign their policy where they absolve their company of any responsibility in case of inaccuracies.
If you want to hire a professional translator, you need to be picky. Choose translation services that have experience with legal translations.
Look for a translator with experience in legal document translation who knows both source and target country’s rules and regulations. Experienced translators know the drill, and they know the relevance of accurate legal translations. That’s why you should only hire experienced companies who can connect you with certified and experienced translators.
7. The Knowledge of Legal Terminologies and Rules is an Imperative
For an accurate translation of legal documents there are two things you need to know:
1. Rules and regulations of source and target country
2. Legal terminologies.
The document can be legally binding only if the legal terminology is accurate. If a certain rule isn’t properly translated, it will compromise the validity of the whole document.
If you want to learn the facts about the target country’s laws, you need to research. Any rule or terminology that is mentioned in the document needs to be researched in the target language. Here is where the complexity of legal translation is truly shown.
Another important step is to understand where and how the document will be used. For example, if you translate a document from English to Spanish, you need to know in which region the document will be applied. Not only do some terms differ from region to region, but the laws can differ as well.
This is why hiring a translator who is familiar with the laws, regulations, and legal terminologies of the target and source country is so important.
Legal translation is unlike any other translation. You need more than knowing the source and target language – you need to know the rules as well. That’s why translators experienced in legal document translations are so valued.
Unless you have such experience yourself, you shouldn’t leave your valuable documents in inexperienced hands. Certified translators can only assure the accuracy of translated legal documents.