5 Things to Know About Legal Translations

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As our world grows rapidly and heavily evolves through globalization, the necessity for legal translation services continues to grow. The constant interaction between nations and cultures in both the private and public sector, especially in a legal setting, demands a medium that would bridge the gap between varying cultures of the parties involved.

Legal translations help people from different countries with different languages and legal systems form a basis to tide over any discrepancies between their own languages. Legal translation is much different from traditional translation as it has to cover not just knowledge of words and language, but context and law. Below we’ve outlined five things anyone should know about legal translations.

Legal translations adopt language localization

Since the law is a culturally-dependent field, legal translations can’t use direct word replacement like other translation services may be able to. Instead, legal translations must convert legal concepts into another language, and localization is a useful tool to facilitate this goal.

Typically, translations are conducted in a manner where a specific grammar exclusive to a particular country or region is utilized. However, localization goes beyond that narrow criteria by considering significant and non-textual components that reflect a country’s current culture, making it a powerful method of translating legal matters.

In particular, localization is fundamental in conducting a legal translation in a country like Israel, which has an evolving population composed of immigrants worldwide. By applying localization, a legal translator would be able to use the appropriate context and legal meaning of a document as it applies to the population.

Therefore, it is important not to mistake or substitute legal translation with other translation services, especially for legal documents.

Legal translations require complex and technical expertise

In general, legal writing is complicated by nature to a layperson. Legal documents and statements are full of legal jargon – technical language that includes binding rights and duties subject to the respective local courts’ interpretations and application.

Thus, an effective legal translation has to reflect more than a mere literal translation of a legal document. Instead, a successful legal translation would dissect the localized contextual and objective of the legal subject. After all, a legal translation’s primary goal would be to bridge the gap between two cultures and their legal systems.

However, legal translations could be difficult even for a seasoned translator, since a technical background is necessary to understand a document’s context beyond direct translations. Thus, it would be critical that a legal translator is a subject-matter expert, with in-depth knowledge of both the source and target countries’ languages.

Inadequate translations may have serious legal or financial consequences

A document or statement with legal implications can be among the most critical material a person can produce. Therefore, a slight mistake in translation, misinterpretation, or uncertainty on a legalese term, inappropriate application of a legal translation, or even a grammatical slip may result in serious legal or financial ramifications.

In a civil matter, an issue could arise if a contract contains a term or condition that might not directly translate to the Hebrew language or vice versa. A competent legal translator would evaluate the importance of the word in question and solve it so that the original meaning remains intact in the translation, which would protect the contract’s validity.

More so, an effective legal translation is crucial in an immigration matter. It could minimize or eliminate the chance that an immigration officer or court could reject a document for inaccuracy.

Thus, a high level of accuracy is essential in providing a legal translation to avoid dire complications.

Legal translations are not exclusive to strict legal documents or settings

Although legal translations are required for all documents and statements that pertain to criminal or civil legal matters, it is not exclusive to law-related or official government materials. Instead, legal translations can provide critical assistance in any situation that needs a culturally-dependent translated material.

Legal documents that require legal translations include: contracts, intellectual property filings, expert reports, legal disclaimers, court and witness transcripts, affidavits, depositions, registration documents, expert reports, legal certifications, regulations, laws, confidentiality agreements, government and legal ruling reports, litigation and arbitration files, letters of credit, technical reports to support litigation matters, and licenses.

However, other documents that may not be explicitly legal could also be subject to legal translation requirements when used in the civil or criminal justice systems. Some of these documents include: passports, birth certificates, medical certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, last will and testaments, contracts, police reports, real estate titles and leases, adoption papers, and escrow instructions.

Typically, the main question to determine whether a document needs to be legally translated is whether it will be used by the courts or for official matters. Often, official documents will require notarized or certified translations.

Each country sets legal translation practices

As mentioned above, each country has its own sets of laws that govern its jurisdiction. In the same vein, every country has its own rules in setting its legal translation practices.

In most countries, a certified translator is required to conduct a legal translation. However, Israel does not have the same requirement. Instead, the only official way to certify a translation in Israel is through notarized translations.

Under Israeli rules, a notarized translation is conducted by a licensed lawyer who has been practicing for at least ten years without significant criminal convictions or ethical offenses.

As highlighted above, a practical, competent, quality, and certified legal translation are imperative to assist parties through the complexities and seriousness of legal and other various essential matters. Availing a sound legal translation localized to the Hebrew language could prove a sound investment for all parties.

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