When many people think about the translation of legal documents, they think about how words and phrases are translated from one language into another. On some occasions, translations can be quite straightforward, and this is actually the case. However in many other cases, and especially with the translation of legal documents, there is a lot more to be taken into account than finding accurate translations for the words used.
Because legal systems are designed to cater to the cultural values, norms and requirements of a particular country, they vary from place to place. Some organisations or even laws that exist in one country may not exist at all in another. This makes translation of legal documents a mine-field for those who lack the necessary knowledge and experience in this field. To give you an idea of how much things can vary, just look at how different UK law is from American law. The two countries share a language, but their culture is still different enough to warrant different systems, and therefore different legal terminology. Sometimes (though it is rare) the exact same law or organisation may exist in both countries, but it takes a great deal of training to be able to know whether this is actually the case, or if there is a small but significant difference between the two.
As contracts and other legal documents aim to set out responsibilities and rights in the clearest possible terms, any ambiguity or mis-translation could wreak havoc. There have been some reports in the news lately about court cases being dismissed due to inferior interpreting services, but the same attention is often not paid to legal translation services. The truth is that it is absolutely vital that [...]