Excellent attention to detail, quality, and a huge responsibility to get everything accurate. These are some of the phrases that are used to describe translation in the legal sphere. Just one mistranslated word here and there and your chances of success overseas could be at stake. As a result of not choosing legal translation services carefully, you can face reputational damage, lose a court case, your legal documents can become unusable, and end an important deal. As per an old saying, building a good reputation takes years, however, one small mistake in legal document translation can damage it irreversibly.
That said, you need to realize that legal translators aren’t just people with an education in linguistics. Rather, they are professionals who changed their profession from lawyers to linguists. Or they are linguists with a specialization in legal along with a strong passion for this field. Because translating a legal document is not easy. It requires years of study, knowledge of legal terms, and remarkable language skills to carry out the job.
Similarly, not all legal translators are qualified to handle all types of legal documents. There will be legal document translators who are experts in EU legislation, others are specialized in court decisions, and so on. This is one of the reasons why working with an LSP is always a wise decision for translating your legal documents. Simply because they have a huge network of linguists and it’s easy to find a linguist for your specific document type.
Poor Legal Document Translation Can Cost Your Company Too Much Money
Let’s take a look at how a poor legal document translation can prove to be costly for your business:
- You’re a company that wants to take part in a foreign country’s tender. But the authorities require all the participants to submit their documents in the official language of the country. So, all your documents are legal in nature and legal representatives will be reviewing them. However, if there are errors in the translation of your legal documents, your chances of getting that tender will be low. Not only that, it will result in damaging your company’s reputation in that particular state or country.
- Your company is investing in an overseas business and they send you as their representative to sign the required contracts. Nevertheless, the documents you have and the foreign company’s documents don’t share the same language and both need a translation. If your company’s legal documents as well as the documents of the foreign company contain errors, the whole process can become worthless. Not only will it cost you time and money but again your brand image will also have a negative impact.
- Now imagine for a moment that you’re the government of a sovereign nation. And your nation has been negotiating an FTA or free trade agreement with another nation that’s somewhat an economic superpower. You spent years in this negotiation and everything is ready now. Like you both have reached a middle ground and the final draft of the agreement is also ready. And FTA translation is the only thing left at this stage. Your nation chooses a cheaper option and ends up with over 100 translation mistakes. Apart from reputation damage, it will cost your country billions in terms of business opportunities.
Specific Field Knowledge and Skills are Mandatory for Legal Translation
In order to become a good legal translator, knowledge of the target language isn’t enough. For this reason, companies offering professional legal translation services often employ translators who have advanced degrees in their domain and also have years of experience. According to theory and practice, a good legal translator should be well aware of the different judicial systems of countries for which they are trying to provide translations.
Let’s say you’re looking for an Indonesian translation of your legal documents from a language such as German. Therefore, if a linguist has to translate legal contracts or other documents between these languages, they must know what the ins and outs of German, as well as Indonesian legal systems, are. This is primarily due to legal equivalence. A legal concept or term must have the same meaning and effect in both the original and target language.
Additionally, when we go from one country to another, their civil, administrative, labor, and criminal laws could be completely different. Therefore, a translator should know these differences, and have their pulse on various information sources, and styles of legal language. Something that only comes after specific education and years of industry experience.
Choosing an LSP is Always the Best Decision for Legal Translations
As a company, you can have various types of legal and law documents. One legal translator, irrespective of their experience, will not be able to cover your full needs. For instance, they might have specialization in court decisions but you need translation for procurement documents. In this case, you’ll have to opt for another legal translation with relevant expertise.
For such reasons, it’s good to always work with language service providers (LSPs). They generally have a database of legal translators and are better positioned to cover your requests for different legal document translations. Plus, an LSP will ensure terminology consistency through the use of translation memory and a centralized glossary. What’s more, you can expect a quick turnaround time due to their vast experience. So, when time is of the essence, you can count on them to get fast and accurate results for each subject matter.
Also read about The Power of Professional Asian Language Translations.