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Why legal translation services are essential for any business

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For any business, the opportunity to approach new markets can be an extremely rewarding concept.  In fact, the idea of approaching new, foreign markets is something UK companies have picked up on in the recent years. Due to globalisation, multilingual societies and developments in technology, even a locally based SME can trade with customers and partners based overseas.

If planned and executed correctly, internalisation and international expansion are indeed rewarding concepts. Nevertheless, as many things in business, it’s easier said than done. There are a number of factors a company must pay close attention to and which can have a direct impact on the success of the expansion.  

Legal translations are vital

One of the most important aspects any organisation wanting to grow abroad must consider are legal translation services which will allow customers and partners to read the company’s official documents in the market’s native language. Within the business environment, legal translations are much more important than simply ensuring that your marketing slogans are translated and localised specifically for the target audience. In fact, translating your official documents and materials can affect your organisation on a legal level. This article aims to explains the importance of working with agencies specialising in providing professional legal translation services and using human translators instead of machines.

Terms and Agreements

Generally speaking, machine translations, such as Google Translate are a fantastic tool for the everyday use and communicating with friends or family. Nevertheless, for official or legal documents, it is highly advised to work with expert agencies which specialise in translating such documents and other similar materials and which work with human linguists. Your company’s terms of service, privacy policies, legal disclaimers or even shipping policies are all legal content which simply must be accurately and reliably translated in order to allow your customers to read them in their native language. In case of a dispute, a poorly translated legal document may be considered invalid or in favour of the consumer. For example, there is a significant difference between “may” and “must” and only a human translator will be able to distinguish these confidently. A few years ago in Germany, around fifty people had to have their kneecaps replaced because the “non-modular cemented” knee replacements were translated as “non-cemented” replacements, consequently not being installed properly. As you can imagine, this mistranslation would cause the company to lose not only money, but also reputation and potential future clients.

Legal Sector expertise

Another great advantage of human translators over machines is the fact the they are able to implement experiences and specific sector knowledge to their work. Agencies specialising in legal translation services usually work with linguists who are not only native speakers of the target language, but who also have a first-hand experience within the legal sector.

A legal translator will not only accurately translate your documents, but will also ensure that they are optimised for the target market. For example, a machine translation may not be able to distinguish the difference between a lawyer and an attorney or the differences between legal systems in different countries, such whether the high court is the equivalent of supreme court. You can read more about the differences in legal systems and legal terms between United Kingdom and United States here.

As legal translations need to strictly maintain the original structure and meaning of their original source, terminology which is directly and linked to the culture, may in many cases be completely irrelevant or perhaps even non-existent in the target language. In such situations, it is essential for the professional legal translator to search for the most suitable equivalent terms and linguistic structure, which matches with the source text.

An affordable counsel 

An additional benefit of working with professional legal translators who are trained and who have a first-hand experience within the legal industry, is that they are familiar with laws and regulations in your target country and often will be able to inform you whether your legal requirements are not enforceable within that particular market.

Unlike translators with a general knowledge, professional legal translators are by definition familiar with legal terminology, procedures and practices, not only in the home country, but also in your chosen market. Such translators will be able to advise on how to word existing documents to reflect both your intent and the regulations as well as the rules which apply in the target market.

You don’t get this second (and affordable) legal counsel if you hand over translation work to someone who isn’t legally certified to conduct translations and may create documents, which simply don’t meet legal standards for the customers’ jurisdiction and do not meet professional standards of translations.

As you can see, legal translation services are a key and essential part of any international expansion. From ensuring that your official documents are accurately and reliably translated to localising your content and in some cases even giving you legal advice, working with agencies which specialise in translations for the legal sector can be extremely beneficial for any business.