As businesses expand globally, accurate legal translations are becoming increasingly crucial. An inaccurate translation can result in misunderstandings, disputes, and even legal consequences. This article explores the importance of proper legal translations for global businesses, highlighting key terminology that requires expert knowledge and the potential ramifications of mistranslations.
Risks of Inaccurate Legal Translations
Misunderstandings and Disputes
Inaccurate legal translations can lead to misunderstandings between parties, resulting in disputes that can be costly and time-consuming. Even in cases where the translation itself is not the issue, disagreements over contractual terms can still arise. For example, the case of Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, SA v. Sherritt International Corp.  EWHC 2721 (Comm) involved a Spanish company and a Canadian company that disagreed over the interpretation of a clause in a contract for the sale of shares in a Cuban mining company. The contract was in English, and the dispute centred around the meaning of the clause, leading to a legal battle. This case highlights the importance of clear and precise language in legal documents, especially when multiple jurisdictions are involved.
Misinterpretations due to poor translations can also have severe legal consequences. For example, in the 2017 case of Teekay Tankers v. STX Offshore & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd  EWHC 253 (Comm), a dispute arose over the interpretation of an option agreement between the parties, where the translation of a single Korean word played a pivotal role. The word in question was “about,” which was used to describe the delivery date of the ships. The imprecise translation led to a disagreement over whether the delivery date was fixed or could be adjusted, resulting in a legal battle. This case illustrates the potential ramifications of inaccurate legal translations.
The Importance of Expertise in Legal Terminology
Terminology That Requires Legal Training
Legal documents often contain complex terminology that can only be understood with proper legal training. Terms such as “force majeure”, “indemnification”, and “res judicata” carry specific meanings that must be precisely translated to avoid misinterpretation. Misunderstanding these terms can lead to significant consequences for businesses.
Implications of Translating Terms Out of Context
When legal terms are translated out of context, the meaning and intent of the original document can be lost. For instance, the term “material breach” may be translated as a breach of a substantial nature, while in the legal context, it refers to a breach that permits the aggrieved party to terminate the contract. Inaccurate translation of such terms can jeopardise the integrity of legal documents and expose businesses to potential liabilities.
The Value of Accurate Legal Translations for Global Businesses
Protection of Interests and Reputation
Accurate legal translations ensure that businesses’ interests are protected, and their reputation remains intact. Precision in translation helps prevent disputes, safeguard contractual relationships, and avoid the negative publicity that can arise from legal misunderstandings.
Compliance with Local Laws and Regulations
For global businesses, complying with local laws and regulations is essential. Accurate legal translations ensure that businesses understand and adhere to the legal requirements of the jurisdictions in which they operate, minimising the risk of non-compliance.
Accurate legal translations are paramount for global businesses, as they help to prevent misunderstandings, disputes, and legal consequences. Expertise in legal terminology and understanding the potential implications of mistranslations are crucial in protecting businesses’ interests and compliance with local laws and regulations. Partnering with a reliable and experienced legal translation service, like Vocalegal, can provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing your business’s legal documents are accurately translated and your global operations are secure.