Signing a work contract, renting a home, buying a car, taking out an insurance policy, receiving an inheritance, and many other activities that we all experience throughout our lives are directly related to the legal world. When we must perform them for another country, or in another language, we must resort to a translation. These types of translations are called legal translations.
What is a legal translation?
Legal translation consists of translating, for example, legal-administrative texts, whether public or not, that is, documents issued by a public body, or private, issued to legally regulate agreements between companies and individuals.
Those documents that, in addition, generate legal effects, that is, official documents, will require a sworn or certified translation. This type of translation should be done by a sworn translator appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The sworn translators, after passing the demanding exams that are periodically summoned and having received their appointment, are the only translators authorized to attest their translations before the authorities through their signature and seal.
The complexity of legal translation
Legal translation is characterized by the specificity and technicality of the documents to be translated. These texts, usually written by legal professionals, usually consist of very specific terminologies. Furthermore, as the Lobato studies clearly show, legal documents are often full of archaisms, subordinations and passive constructions that, together with the length of the paragraphs, the abundance of clauses and the rigidity of their structure, make text difficult to understand.
On the other hand, a large number of legal concepts which are often unknown in ordinary life would appear in these documents, and moreover, they can (and often are) not equivalent to the same legal concepts in other judicial systems (as is often the case between Anglo-Saxon law and Roman law).
Thus, and according to the Mayoral reports, it is essential that a legal translation be faithful and complete, as well as suitable and effective; since a “bad translation” of any legal document could lead to lawsuits and significant economic losses.
When do I need a legal translation?
The documents drafted by an expert in the field of law, as well as a large part of apparently financial documents but with a significant burden of legal concepts can be the subject of a legal translation.
Thus, we can find ourselves facing the need for a legal translation in situations of different kinds: from international commercial agreements in companies dedicated to export, to testaments granted to foreigners, through the translation of official bulletins of state agencies, or the translation of deeds of incorporation of a company, not to mention the translations of work contracts in international companies.
As we have already mentioned, some of these translations will have legal effects and, consequently, the documents will require a sworn translation. Among these documents, we could find birth or death certificates, academic certificates or even certificates of criminal records.
Why not risk my legal translation with any random translator?
Taking into account the characteristics of legal translations, as well as the fact that they can result in legal effects, a “bad translation” can cause legal damages for which not only the translator or his translation agency could be sued, but could also originate legal consequences for the issuer and the recipients of the translation; not to mention the economic losses that could be caused.
To ensure good quality in the service of legal translations, it is essential to contact a legal translator or interpreter who has not only knowledge of the working languages, but also knows the legal realities of the different communities whose languages he works with.
So, does not any translator work in legal translations?
No. Considering the specific requirements of legal translation, the translator of legal documents must therefore have training in languages, translation and law, so that he is always familiar with the content and style of each legal text.
For what documents will I need a legal translation?
- Sales contracts and financial contracts
- Scriptures for the constitution of companies
- Social statutes
- Powers notarial
- Judicial decisions
- Labor documentation
- Wills and trusts
- Insurance policies and expert reports
There are countless legal texts. As we have already mentioned, any legal or financial document drafted by a legal expert, as well as any text that implies rights or obligations for one of the parties that sign it may require a legal translation .