How important are legal and certified translations?

Language translation and interpreting services are often associated with the business and marketing fields and usually are not associated with the legal and financial sectors. Nonetheless, according to the latest statistics, in 2018 the legal sector was one of the key markets for professional translation agencies and in fact, the majority of translation and interpreting work in the United Kingdom is conducted on behalf of law firms and legal professionals.

certified translation

Today, legal professionals, especially those who work for multilingual law firms and specialize in international laws, understand just how important accurate translations truly are in their day-to-day activities as well as during more specific legal cases.

Usually, a law firm would work with a translation provider who is recommended by the board or management team and which had been verified and registered as an official vendor. In some cases, however, a law firm may not have an official provider of language services and so the process occurs on the one-off basis.

This isn’t, however, an ideal scenario either for the law firm nor the translation provider. If legal translations are conducted on the one-off basis, a firm may be risking compromising the quality of their work, should the provider not be able to accurately translate the firm’s materials or a delay if the turnaround time for the translations unintentionally extends, which can be tremendously costly within the legal sector. By choosing and partnering with an expert translation provider, you will allow the linguists to understand your content better and create a translation memory, which ensures a higher quality of translations and lower prices in the future.

Who should translate and certify your legal content?

Many people consider legal translations to be a straightforward process. Indisputably, it does not involve as much creative and transcreation skills as, for example, translations for the marketing sector, nonetheless, in order for a legal translation to be reliable, the linguist must be tremendously knowledgeable.    

A person translating legal documents should not only be a native speaker of the target language but also have an in-depth knowledge of the legal sectors in both countries and the fully understand the differences between them.

Legal terminology and nuances are essential, and in many cases can directly affect a case or change the connotation of a document. As a result, law firms should partner with translation agencies which specialize in translations for the legal sector and which can guarantee that the material will indeed be interpreted by a native linguist with law experience who will be able to distinguish small linguistic differences. A great example could be the U.K and U.S systems. Two markets which although at first glance may seem almost identical, are completely different. A linguist translating legal documents must be aware of the legal differences between the two systems, and for instance know whether the Supreme Court in the U.S is the equivalent of the High Court in the United Kingdom, so that such differences can be reflected in the translated documents.

How to certify a translation?

In many cases, institutions such as the Home Office or Courts of Law would require the translation to be officially certified by an accredited UK agency. This simply means that a qualified and registered linguist must undertake the translation in order to ensure reliability and accuracy.

There are many different types of certified translation. One of the most popular certifications, which is legally recognizable and thus accepted by the majority of official institutions is the translation agency’s certification and a statement of truth.  To learn more about official and certified translation and the different types of certifications, click on the link.

An officially certified translation usually comes with the agency’s stamp and its details. It also includes a cover letter, which states that the translation is an accurate representation of the original document. Usually, the translation agency will be required to post a hard copy of the translation to your address as this includes the ‘wet signature’ which is essential for legal purposes, whilst a digital copy of the translation delivered to your email would only have the digital stamp.

How much should a certified translation cost?

There really isn’t a straightforward answer to this question. When working with professional linguists or translation agencies, the price would be based on the word count of your document. In the UK, usually, the price would vary between £0.10 – £0.16 per word, again, depending on the type of your document and languages required.

Many agencies apply a minimum fee for documents below a certain amount of words. This simply means, that if there is less than for example 400 words within your document, a minimum charge will be applied. Although this might differ from company to company, generally the price should be around £50.

As you can see, officially certified translations are essential in many cases, especially when working with organizations such as the Home Office or Courts of Law. Whether working on behalf of a law firm or translating the documents for private use, in order to ensure that your documents are legally recognizable, work directly with a registered translation agency which specializes in legal translations.

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