Legal translation, what it is, why it is important and what are its key features

9 minutes

Legal translation is one of the most widely explored aspects in the field of translation. It is also one of the disciplines that requires the greatest care, as it is not enough to simply master the language and adapt the texts to the legal context of the document. As professionals, we must be familiar with the legal structures in the target country, something that both complicates the task while simultaneously increasing its value.

Legal translation, what it is, why it is important and what are its key features

What does translation entail within the legal sector?

It involves the translation of documents of a legal nature and context.

It enables the translation, from one language to another, of all manner of documents of a legal nature, including official texts issued or drafted by a public body for the purpose of regulating a legal transaction entered into between private individuals or companies. These include a wide range of purchase/sale contracts, company bylaws, divestment decrees, property right assignments, writs of summons or verdicts and laws. All of these can be executed between persons who speak different languages, and it is therefore essential that the translator act as the linguistic bridge.

Legal translators know full well that no two texts are the same. For this reason, attention must be paid to the profound differences between different subjects. It goes without saying that this sector is awash with legal terminology, so much so that the British refer to it as legalese.

‘Legalese’ is almost a laguage unto itself. It requires a legally trained person to understand it. The same applies to legal translators. They must be familiar with the country’s laws, because there is no way a word-for-word translation can faithfully represent the meaning of the original.

Another of the special characteristics of this field is extreme semantic accuracy. As translators, we must always choose the terms we use with great care and clearly illustrate the concepts used in the document, as these will have legal effects for both parties.  Furthermore, a legal translator must endow the translated text with meaning so that it can be employed in the country where it will be used without resulting in risks that might generate legal consequences for those making use of the document in question.

Legal translation is not sworn translation

The following example is provided to clarify this point. Legal translation is what concerns us here, and it is associated with a sector in which we work alongside notaries public, lawyers and judges on a daily basis. On the other hand, sworn translations are provided by translators who are in possession of a stamp issued by the competent authority, which confers the target texts upon which they are working with legal validity.

Why is translation important within the legal sector?

We cannot forget that this translation service guarantees a basic right. Everybody has the right to understand what it is they are signing or to the learn the details of a court ruling that affects them. Therefore, our role is fundamental for the smooth functioning of the legal processes in a country.

On the other hand, the misinterpretation of a legal document can result in financially unfavorable or even criminal consequences. This risk increases significantly if the person involved does not fully understand a document’s content. This means our input is the one key that also ensures our clients understand their duties and commitments. A legal translator is bound to correctly assign every word and meaning to the legal context. One misplaced word in a document can radically change the course of a case or legal process and, therefore, it is important that the legal translators understand the legal implications of the text they are translating.
It is therefore patently obvious that our profession has a great influence within the legal sector. The specialist agencies and certified professionals totally guarantee their translations. This is because they specialize in the appropriate translation and interpretation of the legal concepts enshrined in the source or original language and do not limit themselves to producing literal word-for-word translations.Translation plays an undisputedly vital role withion the legal sector. But what is it? Why is it so important? All the key points in this article

SeproTec Multilingual Solutions has over 30 years of experience in translation and placement for the legal sector and we offer an extensive portfolio of translators who are both widely experienced and sector-specific specialists.  These are either trained career translators with an in-depth knowledge of the legal system of the country where the translated document will be used and with extensive legal knowledge, or they are bilingual legal professional with mastery of the source and target languages combined with wide experience translating this type of content.  In both cases, our translators are extremely familiar with the laws not only of the country where the translated document is going to be used, but also with those of the country where the document to be translated originates, as well as being skilled researchers.

For more information on how SeproTec Multilingual Solutions can help you with the translation of your company’s legal documentation, you can contact us here.

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