legal translation

Legal translation demands a skilled translator who is conversant with the subject matter of the text, has thorough command of the legal languages, and has an accurate grasp of legal principles.
The significance of legal translation stems from the fact that it is directly related to an individual’s rights and obligations, and any error in translation may result in the loss of those rights or failure to fulfill obligations, or may mislead judges in their interpretation of translated documents.

Legal translation is one of the most challenging and complex types of translation when compared to other disciplines such as economic and literary translation. The complexity of legal translation stems from the fact that it is a process of moving texts from one legal system to another, and the legal texts are intended to two separate levels: common people and legal specialists.

According to some experts, legal translation is the process of transferring texts from one language to another while adhering to the system and nature of legal terminology and the origin of proper wording that complies to laws and legislation.


Legal translation differs from other specialized translations in several points, the most important of which are:

A- Legal translation is defined as a transition between two languages that express two distinct legal systems, and the legal translator must conduct a comparison between these two languages in order to achieve the purpose of translation.

B – Legal translation is a performative language: it is unique in this regard, and the language used in legal translation is not descriptive; this is because the legal act is based on altering reality, such as verifying the plaintiff’s or defendant’s rights, rather than on describing it.

C- Legal translation raises the problem of translating the legal term; due to the fact that translation between two different legal cultures, and by the functional equivalence strategy, we mean that the translator searches for functional equivalents of legal terms in the translated legal system; which means translating the legal term in language (A) and legal system (A), with its functional equivalent in language (B) and legal system (B).

Translation, in general, is a great responsibility and a heavy burden on the translator, who may experience some difficulties in the process of understanding and then in the translation process, but these difficulties will quickly fade away as long as he obtains practical and applied experience in this field.

The legal translator must have linguistic skills as well as technical experience to ensure accurate and well-written translations of legal documents in both the source and target languages.

With regard to using literal translation in translating the legal text; in general, it is necessary to point out the negative affect of literal translation on the quality of the translation, which leads to not integrated text in meaning and is not homogeneous in language, and the same is applied on the legal aspect, because if the text produces legal effects, its translation may be equivalent to the original text, which may prejudice the rights or obligations of the contracting parties.

Legal translation documents include different types such as the translation of contracts and agreements like sales and purchase contracts, commercial contracts and marriage contracts. etc., translating laws and regulations, as well as translating many other legal documents such as birth certificates, divorce decisions, patents, affidavits and legal documents, police reports and other legal documents, and the translation of contracts and agreements are documents in which the consent and agreement of the parties on a specific matter is determined, taking into consideration the obligations and rights in addition to the general provisions.