January 22, 2021

Why legal translation matters

There are literally hundreds of different legal systems around the world. But while there are many that share similarities and histories, there are just as many distinctions that make them entirely separate too. That’s where expert legal translation comes in.
The difference between religious and secular law is one obvious contrast – the latter deriving its authority from humans, the former from an interpretation of a deity. However, as diverse as the legal systems are, the divisions between the two are not absolute.
For example, Morocco operates a mixed legal system, based on both Islamic law and French law, while Saudi Arabia, predominately organised around Islamic law, has introduced some ‘secular codes’ to complement its growing presence as a global player.
So what does all of this mean? As your business grows and expands in new markets, the more complex the legal implications of operating internationally.

Businesses depend on it
As we’ve established, there are many differences when it comes to legal systems in different countries. Add to that a language barrier, cultural factors and the unique terminology that underpins many documents – often referred to as legalese – and you can begin to see the need for legal translation.
It is, after all, one of the most complex forms of translation. Even the slightest mistake, misinterpretation and ambiguity of a word or a phrase can render a document invalid. With the cost of these errors – financial or otherwise – being significant, it’s important it’s done properly. 

It has to be done 
Seeking the services of a specialist provider with access to dedicated teams of legal translators will ensure that legal translation is handled in the right way. 
They have experience in both the legal system of the source country and target country; in-depth knowledge of certain areas of law, such as litigation and corporate finance; and the ability to skilfully translate the meaning, style and tone of the document.
It’s no small task as legal documents – whether they concern intellectual property or mergers and acquisitions – bear legal liabilities. When a document is translated from one language into another, it not only has to take into account the context of the target language and the unique features of the country’s legal system, it also has to have the same legal effect as the original document.

It has to be done fast
Given the inherent complexity of legal translation, it can be hugely time-consuming. While every case is typically unique, when it comes to best practice any undertaking needs to be organised in a very deliberate, methodical and paced way. If absolute quality and accuracy is required, then more time will be needed.
But the reality is far different. Many requests for legal translation are reactive or at the last moment, with many clients needing a speedy turnaround. While this certainly increases risk, the industry has adapted to meet these needs – the best legal specialists can execute high-quality assignments in less than a day.
But it’s not ideal. It’s always better to set up a long-term relationship with a language translation provider, especially if you know legal requests are going to be a regular and important part of your business. That way you can plan ahead and give your legal translator the time to do the best possible job every time. 
So there you have it, a brief introduction to legal translation and why it matters. While it’s certainly not the simplest form of translation, it is one of the most important, and, as the world continues to become smaller, it will continue to become an even more integral part of business.
At THG Fluently, we’ve been providing translation services to legal companies and departments for more than 17 years. In that time, we’ve learned what it takes to provide the specialist and dedicated language services needed to communicate in international markets and do it well. So if you’d like to learn more about how we can support your business with international legal matters, feel free to get in touch.

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