Contract translations are often equated with sales contract translations, but they can also cover documents that generally hold a legal value, like marriage contracts, construction contracts, etc.

The idiosyncrasies of contract translations

Contract translations are something like a hybrid of commercial and legal translations. They require adapting text for a target country’s values while sticking to the particular vocabulary and terminology.

Because of these requirements, contract translations are deemed specialised, like translating IT or even medical documents.

Having both a mastery of linguistics and law, a contract translator should accurately master the vocabulary required for each type of contract. He should also be extremely strict in the translation of each language’s standard wording.

Documents concerned

Contract translation covers all types of contractual documents that have a legal value:

  • Employment contracts
  • Marriage contracts
  • Divorce decree
  • Commercial contracts
  • Non disclosure agreements
  • Sales contracts
  • Construction contracts
  • Maintenance contracts
  • Procurement/purchasing agreements

Rules to follow

It is a perilous activity. The translated text must be as close as possible to the source text with, if possible, an identical page formatting to facilitate any possible cross checking between the documents.

The translator must also verify that the wording used in the translation is in accordance with the rules, both in terms of terminology and syntax, of the target language.

These constraints must be precisely and rigorously observed. In order to avoid disputes, the wording produced by the translator must not leave any room for doubt or interpretation when it comes to the final text.

In the case of disagreement

Legal systems and the rules governing contracts differ from country to country. That is why a contract translator must know the equivalences and any possible disparities between the languages to create a coherent and strict text that is as close as possible to the original.

It is of the utmost importance that the translation is accurate on every point throughout the contract so that each of the signatories is equally knowledgeable of the details and can depend on both the original contract and the translation.

If, during the course of a litigation, information is found missing from the translation, the original document will be used as the point of reference.

Required competencies

Contract translations require training as a translator, but also a solid legal background and deep knowledge of law.

Generally, a legal translator is chosen to undertake such missions. Over the course of their university studies, these translators will take classes in law in the various languages in which they plan to practice.

Confidentiality and discretion

All document translations are of a confidential nature. This is doubly true for the translation of contractual documents. These documents present the personal information of the two parties as well as data sensitive to the contract itself.

By accepting a contract translation mission, the specialised translator must also strictly commit to the non-disclosure of information. The translator must guarantee total discretion and ensure the security of the data.