Dan Peachey is the commercial director at city legal translations – certified as the UK’s fastest growing translation company in 2016 by the Association Of Translation Companies.

Here, Dan explains what every good law firm should know about translation . . .  

Q: How important is translation to the legal sector?

DAN: Legal translation accounts for five per cent of all translations and the legal translation sector is worth 2.3 billion US Dollars annually. Despite this, so many within the profession are unfamiliar with how to handle the foreign language elements of legal matters or treat them as an afterthought. The legal world relies on legal experts and for translation and interpreting, it should be no different.

Q:   What are the consequences of not using a professional legal translator?

DAN:  Inaccurate translations can cause a whole world of problems leading to wrongful convictions, damaged reputations, finances, transmitting liability or ownership to another party, businesses made or lost. There have been cases of properties being sold at the wrong price, or to the wrong person. These are not sensational examples; they are possible if legal documents are not translated correctly and professionally.

Q: What’s the best approach to commissioning language services?

DAN: When it comes to commissioning language services, it pays to know about the different types available and where to source them. For example, do you know the difference between translation (dealing with the written word) and interpreting (dealing with the spoken word)?

Expert translation and interpreting should be provided by a Language Service Provider (LSP) affiliated to a professional trade body, such as the Association of Translation Companies or the Institute of Translation & Interpreting.

An LSP with specific experience of your sector will not only ensure accuracy and precision but also speed up the process. They will be familiar with terminology and styles of writing and will also have a wider knowledge of specific legal systems and areas of expertise.

Check the LSP uses experienced, mother tongue, legal expert translators.

You should also ensure the LSP can certify documents to the right level for legal use. There are a number of different levels, such as certified translation, notarised translation or sworn translation. It can be a bit of a minefield! We have a handy explanation on our website at www.citylegal.co.uk.

By working with an accredited translation company and you’ll get the best results. City Legal works with more than 2000 legal translation experts and supports over 600 language combinations. 

Q: What type of documents will need to be translated?

DAN: Anything and everything! We translate court judgments, witness statements, evidence, certificates such as marriage, birth, death as well as police checks, expert testimony and company formation documents such as Articles of Association and memoranda.

Q: What’s involved with legal interpreting?

DAN: Legal interpreting needs to be carried out in a completely accurate and non-biased manner. We provide interpreters for a variety of reasons – in the court room or to take a witness statement, for example.

There are different types of interpreting including simultaneous or conference, consecutive and telephone interpreting, but a good LSP can guide you through this.

Q: How are translations costed?

The cost of the translation will depend on the length of the document, the content and the language combination required.

For example, countries with low levels of population such as Iceland or where the cost of living is high such as Scandinavia are generally more expensive. Before you compare LSPs, you should see what is included in the price, as some charge urgency fees, whilst some offer proofreading as part of a job automatically, whilst others charge this separately. Also, some companies offer Legal Aid rates in the relevant circumstances so make sure you tell the LSP upfront before they quote! 

Q: Can’t we just use Google Translate?

The world of automated or machine translation has been talked about so much lately, with Google Translate as the one everyone knows best! Such tools can be useful for translating large documents where there is a lot of repetition. However, translations for the legal sector need to be precise, accurate and exact, with confidentiality at the heart of the process. Therefore, legal documents do not naturally fit the profile for technology-based translations and often ‘legalese’ may not have precise equivalents in another language while a simple rephrasing of sentences may cause confusion and transmit liability or ownership to another party. Steer clear!

Dan Peachey is Commercial Director at City Legal Translations, the UK’s Fastest Growing Language Services Provider in 2016. Dan is a Council Member of the Association of Translation Companies and the Vice Chairman of Eulogia, the European Alliance of Translation Agencies. He has been working in the translation sector for the last 16 years. www.citylegal.co.uk