Navigating the Complexities of Legal Document Translation: Accuracy, Security, and Post-Brexit Challenges

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Navigating the Complexities of Legal Document Translation: Accuracy, Security, and Post-Brexit Challenges

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Language Link UK is 31 years old this year. We’re known for our industry-specific expertise across several industries including aviation, medical, and insurance.

But not everyone knows that it all started with legal document translation.

Our founder was originally a lawyer, who set up the company based on personal experience of what legal clients really needed from a translation agency.

When a single word out of place can mean the success or failure of a case, legal document translation has to be meticulous – and we have built a well-deserved reputation for error-free translation.

Over the years we’ve seen how important fast, accurate and confidential translation services are for legal documents of all kinds, both for legal professionals, and for individuals who need help translating legal paperwork; perhaps because they live abroad, or because something has happened to them – an accident, for example – in another country.

We’ve continued to build the business based on the principle that many legal protocols are just as important in other industries.

In this article, we’re going to look at 4 key areas where legal document translation expertise is particularly important.

1 – Accurate legal translation services whatever the circumstances

We’ve been involved in many high-profile legal cases over the decades – including the criminal trial of Bernie Madoff and the Philip Morris fraud trial, which involved translating documents from 5 languages.

Although AI translation has been around for years, in legal cases you can’t rely on machine translation. Every single word has to be meticulously translated – often from and into specialist legal language – and there is no room for error. It has to be done by a human with expert knowledge of legal language as well as translation experience.

The same principle applies whatever the job. It doesn’t matter whether we’re handling hundreds of pages of legal bundles for a criminal court case, or supporting an individual with a personal legal matter abroad.

When a single word can change the entire meaning of a document, attention to detail, knowledge of legal language and understanding of the context are vital.

2 – Secure and confidential legal translation

We’re also highly aware of the confidential and sensitive nature of most legal documents. Whether this is to protect individuals involved in civil or criminal cases, or to keep business-sensitive information under wraps, all our translators and interpreters sign non-disclosure agreements as a matter of course, but we are always happy to work under specific NDAs where they are needed.

We also operate a secure portal, so that your confidential documents can be transferred from you to our translator and back within a heavily protected and encrypted system. This is also ideal for larger document bundles for which email wouldn’t be appropriate. Every individual has their own password access, so access is fully protected and traceable.

3 – Post-Brexit legal translation support

In the last few years, Brexit has had an unforeseen impact on the need for legal document translation services. There are many scenarios where the rules haven’t been finalised since the end of the Withdrawal Period, and it is still unclear whether the legal aspects should be handled in the UK or an EU country.

Although our business is translation, it’s also important for us to keep up-to-date on developments – such as The Hague Judgements Convention 2019 (Hague 2019) which came into force in 2023. The problem with Hague 2019 is that Brexit has left some gaps, which can leave people (for example victims of injury outside the UK) needing to pursue compensation in foreign courts – and in need of translation support.

We’ve recently supported just such a case involving a traffic accident which resulted in serious injury to a British citizen in Cyprus. Pre-Brexit, the case could have been tried in the UK under UK law, but now it must be tried in Cyprus, so documents need to be translated.

4 – How do you translate a legal document if you’re living abroad? Translation services for individuals.

We’re also seeing an increase in translation needs for personal reasons. Often this is for people from the UK who own property or live abroad, who have to deal with the death of a family member overseas, or who are getting married or entering into a civil partnership outside the UK. Brexit has made it more complicated for some people, who find themselves in need of more documentation.

If you need help or advice relating to legal document translation, contact us today.

What is the legal translation method?

Your translated documents must mean exactly the same in other languages as they do in English. So all of our linguists are also legal industry professionals, and where appropriate, we use linguists who have international law degrees, LLB qualifications, or are qualified solicitors or barristers.

i. Evaluation

Your translator will first evaluate the source document; reading it carefully to understand its context and purpose, as well as highlighting any details which may need to be clarified.

ii. Translation method

There are two main translation methods for legal translation; literal translation (word-for-word) and dynamic equivalence (focussing on overall meaning rather than individual words). Your translator will use the most appropriate, which may be a combination of the two in a single document.

iii. Translation, editing and proofreading

Your translator will meticulously translate the source document into the required language, checking for legal terminology and ensuring that the translation is clear, concise, error-free and conforms to the appropriate legal standards.

iv. Certification and notarisation

In many cases, legal documents will need to be certified (apostilled) and/or notarised before they are accepted as valid in the target country. Your translation agency will ensure this is done for you where necessary.

How do I find the right legal translation service?

That’s simple. Contact a reputable, experienced translation agency, like Language Link UK. Language Link UK’s legal translation service is suitable for any type of legal document, including contracts, court documents and other documents with a legal element such as safety reports.

Our specialist legal translators all have:

  1. Subject-specific language knowledge as well as high-level, native-speaker language proficiency
  2. Legal knowledge, experience and qualifications
  3. Extensive translation experience
  4. Thorough vetting and non-disclosure agreements in place

With 31 years’ experience in the industry, over 5,000 translators native in over 200 languages and dialects, and industry-specific expertise across numerous sectors including finance, insurance, law, technology, and medicine, we’re your go-to service for translation, interpreting, and transcription.

Contact us to discuss your next project.