Every business has to manage a certain amount of legal documentation. For companies operating across language borders, this makes legal document translation an essential service – whether you are selling to customers in multiple markets or working with overseas partners, suppliers or manufacturers.
In this article, we explain why legal document translation is so important to companies operating internationally and list the most common situations in which they need this language service.
What is legal document translation?
Legal document translation is the process of converting any document used for legal purposes from one language into another (or into multiple other languages). Some of the most common types of document include: contracts, court transcripts, wills, birth certificates, immigration documents and many more.
As a specialist service within the translation field, legal documentation should always be translated by certified translators with proven experience with legal projects, including having previously translated the same type of documents you are dealing with.
To clarify: in the UK, there is currently no specific certification for legal or legal document translation. Instead, you have to seek out certified translators that specialise in legal document translation and check their previous work, experience and suitability for your projects and needs.
When do businesses need legal document translation?
As the business world becomes increasingly globalised and demographics are reshaped by multiculturalism, businesses rely on legal document translation more than ever. To illustrate the variety of cases where companies need this specialist language service, here is a list of some of the most common scenarios where legal document translation might be needed:
Scenario 1 – When expanding into overseas markets: This involves a seemingly endless amount of paperwork, documentation and consultation with official bodies in each target market.
Scenario 2 – When selling to foreign-speaking buyers: In this hyper-connected world, companies no longer require a physical presence in the same country as their customers, but the licensing and regulations involved are complex.
Scenario 3 – When partnering with international firms: Working with international partners, talent and sponsors is a great way to enhance the capabilities of a business. To achieve this, you need the right legal protections and documentation in place.
Scenario 4 – When signing contractual agreements: Any contractual agreement with international organisations requires perfect translation to protect all parties involved.
Scenario 5 – When sourcing parts, materials or talent from overseas: Negotiations, contracts and service agreements are essential for ensuring the flow of goods and acquisition of personnel.
Scenario 6 – When employing international staff: Whether you are employing international staff at home or in overseas locations, you have to ensure all of the correct paperwork and documentation is in place.
Scenario 7 – When securing intellectual property rights: Intellectual property rights, patents, copyright laws and other protections vary across countries so companies often need to approach these on a market-by-market basis.
Scenario 8 – For licence applications & service level agreements (SLAs): Applying for licensing in foreign-speaking markets is complex enough already without translation issues holding up the process even further. Moreover,in most cases, applying SLAs internationally requires individual agreements for each market.
Scenario 9 – For insurance & Litigation: Dedicated insurance is needed for all market companies operating in and out of any instances where they are required to take legal action against an individual or organisation.
Scenario 10 – For legal representation & depositions: Any instance where companies hire legal representation in a local market and in any case where they’re asked to provide information by an international legal body or in relation to legal investigations (criminal cases, fraud investigations, tax investigations, etc.).
Scenario 11 – For the translation of T&Cs and multilingual websites: Terms and conditions require flawless translation to protect your business, and for when you are creating more than one language version of your website.
This list shows that businesses that operate internationally on any level can require legal document translation for a wide variety of purposes. The scenarios can differ slightly and vary from one another, depending on the legal requirements of a business.
If you have any doubt about your needs for legal document translation, make sure you have the required legal support on your side and discuss your needs with legal aids and translation experts. Finally, it is important to always work with translators that specialise in legal document translation with previous and proven experience.
Does your business need legal document translation?
With the UK not having a certification system for legal document translation, this can make things challenging in terms of finding the right translators independently. The easiest solution is to work with an agency that specialises in legal document translation as they will have a network of specialist language professionals that they work with and they’ll be able to find the talent you need for your project.
If you need help finding the right translators for your next project or developing a robust translation strategy, contact us.