Translating legal documentation is a separate translation discipline and a job that can be done only by specialized translators. In this type of translation, even a small error can easily lead to countless legal problems and difficulties, which is something nobody ever wants.
This becomes especially obvious taking into account that experts in this area usually translate court documents, petitions, court decisions, business contracts and documentation, various licenses, permits and similar documents.
In other words, translating legal documents is a very delicate affair, which carries with it 5 main challenges.
Differing laws between every country
Legal systems are usually very different from country to country, which is why each country has its own specific documentation. This kind of variety creates a challenging environment for the translator because it often involves terms that can be ambivalent and difficult to translate.
This is why the expert who is translating legal documentation has to understand all the variations and similarities between legal terminologies of two countries, know which expressions are equivalent to one another and be savvy in identifying the correct use of every term based on the context in which it was used. Otherwise there is a risk that the translation can cause misunderstandings and leave room for misinterpretation and ambivalence which, in turn, can cause additional disputes.
Legal systems often undergo changes.
Legal procedures often change in each country and it can easily happen that something that was correct last month is no longer relevant in the present.
This is why legal translators have to regularly follow a broad variety of norms, regulations and new laws and be aware of every change that is made and what exactly it means both in their country and the foreign country whose language the documents are being translated to.
No flexibility in translation
The terminology used in legal documents is often extremely rigid, so there is no room for flexibility during translation. This means that when translating legal documents, the translator has to work within a very narrow framework of terminologies, while still clearly translating the context and meaning of the documents.
In other words, there is absolutely no room for any kind of creativity, which can often make the work even more strenuous.
Attention to detail is crucial
The biggest challenge in translating legal documents lies with the syntax. When it comes to legal documentation, the voice used is usually passive, which can result in complex sentences that appear endless, and the text itself feels as though it consists of countless commas and periods. Each of these punctuation marks is absolutely essential for understanding the meaning because one misplaced comma can sometimes change the meaning of an entire sentence.
This is why it is common practice to entrust the proofreading of the completed translation to a different person than the one who translated in order to avoid all and any potential error or oversight.
The nature of legal documents is such that their translations are usually needed as soon as possible. This means there is no room for any delays or tardiness.
This is why the translators in this branch are always ready to work under huge pressure of time and with minimal breaks in order to complete everything on time. This, in turn, means that good legal translators must possess excellent work routine and methodology which enables them to fulfill their deadlines, which is something that comes only from experience.