Why call on a legal translator?

In the context of continually developing globalisation, the volume of transnational contracts and deeds is constantly increasing. Be it in the domain of business legislation or in that of civilian life, legal translation is an inevitable necessity.

The legal approach to translation

A good translator must be perfectly fluent in both the source language and the target language. But not every translator can be qualified to translate legal texts. Recognised linguistic skills or number of years experience do not suffice to translate legal texts such as:

  • employment contracts
  • deeds
  • legislative acts
  • shareholders’ agreements
  • assignments and decrees
  • civilian and administrative acts

Due to the great subtlety of legal translation, it is essential for the legal translator to have training in both the field of law and linguistics.

Legal translation is a complex exercise which requires precise knowledge in law and in both languages.

The technicality of legal translation

The legal translator must be familiar with the concepts and notions of law in terms of the legal systems of the two countries in question. Each country has its own unique justice system; the challenge of translation is therefore to create a document which is equivalent to the source text, and not identical because each legal language has its specificities. This requires constant adaption between the two legal environments, as well as between the specific jargons of the particular field of law, which only legal translators can do.

Legal translation is a very technical exercise with lexical precision and syntax specific to legal language. Translating a legal text requires absolute understanding of the two systems, including a precise and sharp vocabulary and specific phraseology for each one. In law, there is no exact synonym and the translator must avoid approximation without, however, translating the text word for word.

A legal translator’s expertise

A legal translator is at the same time an expert in translation and in law. In the majority of cases, he or she is an expert or qualified translator, and thus identified and recognised as an expert in an appeal court. He or she is the only one who can validate a legal translation, giving it the same value as the original document.

A legal translator must ensure that they are well informed with the legislative development of the countries. They regularly revise their vocabulary in order to be up to date with the target legal language.

There are many different aspects of law such as civil law, commercial law etc., but out of these, some legal translators specialise in precise disciplines. This decision enables them to become real experts, developing their specific knowledge in a single legislative domain.