What is a legal translation?

Legal translation is the translation of legal texts, i.e., all kinds of documents with legal content, from one language (source language) into another language (target language).

The legal texts to be translated can include all branches of law: business law, civil law, administrative law, constitutional law, international law, European Union law, etc., and the types of documents to be translated, too, from agreements and contracts to wills, notarial deeds, legal reports, legislation, academic articles on law, etc.

An important aspect of the translation of legal texts is their complexity, since not only the vocabulary involved is highly technical, but this vocabulary is part of a system of its own, the legal system, which has its own rules of operation, known by its specialists, the jurists, professionals trained in law.

In legal translation, then, a word is not merely a word that is translated from one language into another language, but a legal concept from a particular legal system – the legal system of the source language – which, once translated, must be understandable in another legal system – that of the target language.

Thus, special care must be taken in choosing the right words when translating a legal text, since it is not only the linguistic factor that plays a role, but also the legal aspect, since we have to assure that the original text makes sense in the target language, and also in the legal system in which the text is to be legally effective.

It is for this reason that legal translation requires both a knowledge of the languages involved in the translation and of the legal discipline, in which lawyers are its specialists.

A lawyer, therefore, both with legal knowledge and training in translation, will be especially prepared to carry out a faithful and careful translation, both from a linguistic and legal point of view, providing security and certainty to the translated document.

In future posts we will continue to go deeper into legal translation and its areas of specialisation. We hope you liked this post. Thanks for reading!