What You Should Know about Legal Translations

Key Points:

  • Legal translations are a specialized service that requires strong legal knowledge, linguistic skills, cultural awareness, and ethical understanding.
  • Certified legal translations ensure that a translated document is error-free and compliant with confidentiality requirements.
  • Elite Translations has years of experience in legal translations. We are a certified translation company duly recognized for our quality work and customer-centric approach to translating legal documents.

Legal translations are vital services that help businesses and individuals bridge communication gaps in international proceedings. 

Let’s look at the key aspects of legal translations and why you need to invest in certified translations for your legal needs.


What Are Legal Translations?

In a nutshell, legal translations involve the translation of any document or file that will be used for legal purposes. 

Because proceedings are often meticulous and painstaking, legal translations can cover anything from witness reports to video transcripts.

The specialized nature of legal translations makes it a sought-after service around the world.


Legal documents often contain complex terms and highly sensitive information. Translators in this field require legal backgrounds and certification to ensure accuracy and confidentiality.


How Do Legal Translations Differ from Regular Translations?

Compared to regular or standard translations, legal translations are characterized by the following:

  • Strong emphasis on accuracy. Minor errors and mistranslations can completely change a document or make it void.
  • Need for certification. Translated documents must be certified true translations to be valid in foreign jurisdictions. They may need to be certified by an apostille or a notary.
  • Use of legal expressions. Like medical documents, legal documents are often technical and jargon-heavy. Some legal terms don’t have a direct translation, so the legal translator must find all possible alternatives (if any) and contextualize them.
  • Specific formatting. Structural elements like sections, fonts, and paragraph styles may vary from country to country.
  • Style and tone. Legal translators must be careful when incorporating grammar rules. For example, using a passive voice in legal writing is done to deflect accusations from the accused.


What Are the Common Uses of Legal Translations?

  • Court proceedings. Files such as witness reports, video transcripts, webchats, and trial recordings are all used in court to reach a verdict.
  • Business dealings. Businesses seeking to expand internationally, acquire subsidiaries, buy intellectual property (IP), or file for bankruptcy can use legal translations to ensure regulatory compliance.
  • Immigration.  This includes work and visa applications, spousal sponsorships, and other paperwork needed for legal entry.
  • Legacy planning. Testamentary documents are legal documents that detail the wishes of the deceased to transfer their assets.


What Are Common Documents for Legal Translations?

As we have already covered, legal translations involve translating paperwork, files, and documents for legal proceedings.

Some of the common documents include:

  • Birth, death, and marriage certificates. These can be used for various purposes, including immigration, divorce, annulment, and child custody.
  • Contracts and agreements. These include the terms and conditions that legally bind two parties, such as employment contracts and marriage contracts.
  • Statutes and patents. These are documents related to IP and copyright.
  • Wills and trusts. These help family members secure rightful ownership after the passing of another member.
  • Powers of attorney. This document helps individuals appoint representatives in different countries.
  • Visas, residency certificates, and other immigration documents. These papers help foreign nationals legally work, study, and live abroad.
  • Tax declarations. These are permanent tax records for every property and business owner.
  • Memorandum of Association (MoA) and trade license. These are documents pertaining to business registration.
  • Court documents (litigation papers, affidavits, witness testimonies, etc.) Multilingual jurisdictions require an accurate translation of anything to be used in a court of law. 
Common legal translation documents

What Should You Look for in Legal Translations?


1. Meticulous and Accurate

Again, legal documents depend on extremely precise language to convey rights, consequences, and obligations. 

The multinational parties involved must communicate their terms and arguments clearly and truthfully.

Legal translators should be bilingual native speakers to have a deep understanding of both languages.

They should know that even simple punctuation omissions can drastically change a statement, so they put a premium on linguistic accuracy.


2. Certified Translations

Having a document certified shows that it has gone through strict quality checks to eliminate errors and inaccuracies. 

The lack of certification implies the presence of errors that can render a document invalid. 

This can even lead to accusations of fraud. Immigration departments, for example, are trained to spot fake, uncertified documents that foreign nationals may use to gain illegal entry.


3. Broad Legal Knowledge

A certified translation expert must have a good grasp of a country’s legal systems, formatting, and terminologies to properly translate legal documents.

They also understand that legal systems evolve. They continuously refresh their knowledge to reflect developments in multinational jurisdictions.


4. Cultural Sensitivity and Contextual Understanding

Legal systems are intertwined with a country’s culture, history, practices, and societal norms.

A deep understanding of these allows translators to provide culturally appropriate and contextually accurate translations aligned with foreign legal concepts.

A top-notch translation service must know how to utilize translation and localization when it comes to legal documents, which may include colloquialisms and slang.


5. Timeliness

Time is of the essence, especially in court proceedings. The professional translator must understand the urgency of deliverables and provide translations within the specified timeframe.


6. Ethical Compliance

Good legal translators maintain client confidentiality, transparency, and impartiality. A certified translation company for legal documents should have strict data privacy and security guidelines in place to protect sensitive information.

The translator must never include personal views in their translations to maintain the document’s integrity. Doing so might even be considered tampering, which could result in serious legal action.

Qualities of top-notch legal translations

Certified Legal Translations—The Elite Way

Finding the right translation service for legal translations can be challenging because of the field’s high-stakes nature.

Elite Translations knows that translating legal documents leaves no room for mistakes.

We are a certified translation company with a strong reputation for delivering first-rate translations duly recognized by Philippine and foreign bodies.

We apply strict vetting procedures to ensure that our translators have the linguistic and legal expertise to produce desirable results.

Beyond all that, we are a service-obsessed translation agency that will put your needs first.

Get a FREE quote now, and let’s get to it!