Why would one Need a Legal Translation Service?
There are a variety of purposes for which one might need to make use of a legal translation service. The most obvious would be the translation of documents which need to be produced in court, for example witness statements, but would also include documents needing to be read by a solicitor or barrister in preparation for a case. Legal contracts are also important documents in this category (for example global corporation contracts). Other legal documents might include birth, death or marriage certificates, or qualification certificates. For legal purposes it is usually necessary to provide an officially verified translation, but the type varies depending on the purpose.
What Kind of Legal Translation Documents are Available?
There are two kinds of legal translations available: a 'sworn translation' and a 'certified' translation'. A 'sworn translation' is used for translation of a document from English and must be translated by a qualified sworn translator who is employed by the courts or a government department, therefore the translation is a legal document in its own right. A 'certified' translation is used for translations into English. The translator must be a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists and although the translation is recognised by the government and other official organisations, the document is not a legal document in its own right. Different countries have different requirements as to which kind of official translation is acceptable.
How can one Access Legal Translation Services?
In addition to accessing a legal translation service via a solicitor or other legal representative, an internet search for companies offering legal translation services shows that there are many organisations available. Some offer both sworn and certified translations, some only appear to offer certified translations. Most clearly understand the need for accuracy and attention to details; legal translation is understandably a specialised field, given the possible implications of inaccuracies in the translation of legal documents such as contracts. They also recognise the need for a swift turnaround time – many offer a 24 hour turnaround and some emphasise that they employ staff worldwide, so can offer a 'round the clock' service. Many also advertise the fact that they are able to provide certified translations which are recognised by government agencies such the the UK Passport Office, NARIC (the organisation which advises on international qualifications) and the Legalisation Office.
What are the Costs?
Charges for legal translation through a legal representative depend on the purpose of the translation and may or may not be subject to VAT. These will normally be included in the overall charges made. There is a range of options regarding the costs of commercial legal translation services. The most common seems to be an overall charge based on the word or character count of the document and language in question. For example, one company which provides an online calculator which quotes an average of 11p per word for a European language, with charges slightly higher for Asian languages. Additional charges may also be incurred depending on how complicated the document is and some companies charge more for weekend working or an urgent job. It is clear that there are many companies offering legal translations services, all advertising a fast, accurate and efficient service, so investing time in initial research before commissioning a legal translation would be time well spent.