The legal field is an interdisciplinary one, and legal discourse is ever-changing. “Legalese,” the lingo for legal talk, is like a language of its own. So too is the language of legal translation. 

Legal translation deals with the difference between languages and how to express legal matters from one language to another. This means legal translators have an extensive knowledge of the law.

Today, this article will center around legal translation and what it can do for the betterment of legal cases. One translation error can break a case, and according to Slator, in legal translation, errors can change a life. We’ll go through what legal translation is, and why errors can affect people’s lives. We’ll see the qualifications of a legal translator and the standards of translation quality in legal translation services.

What Is Translation In the Legal Sense?

Legal translation is the process of translating for the field of law, which transforms legal documents from one language to another. Legal translation can feature a type of certification, which ascertains that the translation is a true and accurate translation, while maintaining its authenticity.

Almost all types of legal documents can be translated, when necessary. Such documents as birth certificates, business contracts, marriage certificates, trusts and wills, financial statements, employment records, legal briefs, witness statements, partnership agreements and more are liable to be translated.

If you’re a law firm, marketing may prove necessary for your business. If so, legal translation when it comes to marketing materials should be done by professionals. Here’s an article about legal translation and marketing.

The Necessities of Translation Quality

Legal translation must exhibit a certain level of translation quality. If not, there are legal repercussions. The consequences of poor translation depends on the country; but in the UK, since a legal translation needs to be done by professional translators with in-depth legal knowledge, a legal translation that has errors has proven liable in the face of the court, such as in the case of King (AP) vs. Bristow Helicopters [2002]. 

According to a study, “The sheer volume and diversity of translation work which takes place

throughout the world each year means that there are potentially dozens, if not hundreds, of possible implications for defective translations. But despite the apparent lack of specific cases in which a translator was held liable as a result of an incorrect or inadequate translation, there are

numerous instances which illustrate the potential consequences of substandard translations.”

Substandard translation is a very real reality, as stated by this study on translation error. The translation quality must be perfect or near-perfect, and an accurate representation of the original. Later, we’ll go on to talk about translation quality standards.

“[Translators] can nevertheless be found liable under both contract law and under tort law and it behoves them to ensure that they make all reasonable efforts to familiarise themselves with the subject material, source and target conventions and the relevant legislation and requirements governing the texts being translated,” says the study, hinging on the necessity of translation quality. 

The Qualifications of a Legal Translator

A legal translator must fulfill certain requirements. Firstly they must qualify to be a translator, so they must be fluent in two or more languages. Language expertise and familiarity with more than one language is essential through study and qualification.

Next they must be able to pass qualifying tests as a legal translator, which tests fluency and legal knowledge, and be sworn in court, if a certified legal translator. Certified legal translators must have taken an oath in court, swearing and stamping their documents for certain court proceedings.

After that, you must gain experience in your field. Most people looking for legal translators are looking at the experience of the translator. Along with lawyers, judges, and paralegals, legal translators work in the same field.

And lastly, translation certification must be attained at a certain level for the legal profession. This credential is specific to legal translation, because legal translators must provide accurate legal translation services, avoiding translation errors. 

Standards of Translation Quality in Legal Translation Services

The standards of translation quality for legal translation services is of paramount importance. Accuracy and attention to detail, knowledge of the legal systems, familiarity with the relevant legal terminology, confidentiality, and timely delivery. 

Accuracy and attention to detail is important when it comes to language translation. Knowledge of the legal systems is ideal for the legal aspect of the translation, which goes with familiarity with legal terminology. Meanwhile confidentiality and timely delivery is a must for all professional agencies that serve the people through legal translation.

Legal translation, in order to be the best quality, must be done by professional legal translators. This means that legal translation services must have a pool of legal translators that have certification for their job. Legal translation services have their own place in the legal field, navigating the space between international laws and national laws, either between states or cross-border.

“Poor legal translations can delay deals, damage relationships and render documents invalid. A misplaced comma can cost you a great deal of time and money. Because you don’t want to experience setbacks, you need to choose the right translation company—one that takes a strategic approach to legal translation,” by Kristy Repay of RWS Alpha, RWS’ legal translation department.

“The biggest threat to legal translation services is translation error, which has grave consequences,” says William Mamane of Tomedes, from their legal translation arm. “Which is why the translation quality is necessitated by a top quality assurance team that makes sure all translation orders are accurate,” he added. Your translation mission should be to smooth or even out legal issues through translating from one language to another, which is why it’s imperative to do linguistic quality checks as well as an overall quality assurance.

“The linguistic QA and holistic QA is only one of the end aspects of translation quality,” Mamane said. “The first thing that translation quality hinges on is the translator themselves.” Tomedes’ translation quality is evidenced by their high client satisfaction rate of 98%, which was noted to us by Mamane.

At The End

The meaning of translation quality in legal translation is that it must be error free and must reflect the original language/document accurately. There are no effective legal translations that are untrue to the original, and there may be consequences for these actions.


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