Montreal Translation Services:
3 Reasons Why Consistency Is Essential In Legal Translations

In the legal field, accuracy and precision are crucial to preventing misunderstandings and unnecessary disagreements.

As you may already know, it is also crucial that the translated version of a legal document accurately captures the original text’s meaning. As legal terminology is precise and nuanced, consistency is necessary for the translated text to faithfully convey the original text’s meaning and content.

Here are some examples of inconsistencies in legal translations:

  1. Inconsistent use of legal terms, e.g. translating the same bank as “custodian” in one section and “depository” in another;
  2. Inconsistencies in verb tenses, e.g. describing an event in the past tense in one section and the present tense in another;
  3. Inconsistent use of pronouns, e.g. using referring to the same person in one section as “he” and another as “they”.

Whatever the inconsistency may be, one fact remains true: inconsistencies are costly. 

Let’s talk more about it.

Montreal Translation Services: Consistency is essential for legal translations, because it prevents costly misunderstandings.

Inconsistencies in legal translations often lead to confusion and costly misunderstandings, which can have major repercussions for both personal and business legal documents. 

Consider the potential consequences of translation inconsistency when translating personal legal documents, such as those related to work abroad or for the adoption of a child from a foreign country. A single inconsistency in translation could cost you a work opportunity or your dream of building a family.

Legal translation inconsistencies can not only have serious consequences in legal proceedings, but they can also lead to ongoing disputes between companies and countries. Conflicts of this nature might incur high legal costs as well as other intangible costs. 

In fact, only one inconsistent term in a commercial contract might substantially change the advantages for one side or render the paperwork useless.An example of this is the use of the words “contract” and “agreement” in the same legal document. While those two words are often used interchangeably, they have different legal definitions.

For instance, an agreement can be a  voluntary and informal arrangement between two or more parties, in which they agree to take or refrain from taking certain actions. These types of agreements are typically based on trust and are not necessarily legally binding the way contracts are. A contract is always based on an agreement, but an agreement does not always constitute a contract. 

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In other words: do not use the words contract and agreement interchangeably for the same document. 

Another example is employing the term  “waiver” in one section and “release” in another section of the same document. A waiver involves completely relinquishing ownership, whereas a release involves transferring ownership to another person. These are not the same legal terms, and cannot be used interchangeably in a consistent, accurately translated legal document.

Montreal Translation Services: Consistency is essential for legal translations if you want credibility and reliability.

For readability and comprehension, consistent terminology is essential in any legal translations. Not only does it reduce unnecessary uncertainty and ambiguity, but it promotes credibility and reliability. 

Additionally, consistency promotes confidence and trust among partners, employees, clients, and stakeholders in a company. When a company consistently employs the same language throughout its translated legal documents, it indicates a level of professionalism and attention to detail always appreciated by its readers.

The bottom line is, as a reader, it is only logical to assume that a new term in a document denotes a novel circumstance or new piece of information. By using different translated terms for the same source word in a legal document, it confuses the reader because the first assumption this reader will make will be that this new term means something different from the first term mentioned in a document. 

For instance, as I mentioned earlier with the use of “contract” and “agreement” being used interchangeably in a translated, inconsistent document, the reader may expect the sudden mention of “agreement” to refer to another document than the contract they are currently reading. The reputation and dependability of whoever generated this document will be significantly impacted once it is discovered that this is not the case.

Consistency is essential for credibility, reliability, and comprehension in all legal documents.

Montreal Translation Services: Consistency is essential for legal translations to uphold the integrity of the legal system.

For the purpose of making wise decisions during legal processes, parties rely on the reliability and accuracy of translated documents. Legal translation errors can damage the parties’ confidence in one another, which is crucial for the just and efficient operation of the legal system.

For instance, if a legal document is translated inconsistently, it could cause misconceptions and uncertainty about the parties’ legal responsibilities. This can cause disagreements and often legal issues, which would be detrimental to the legal system’s credibility.

In fact, the consequences of legal translation inconsistencies also often occur in criminal courtrooms, leading to potential wrongful convictions or, more commonly, the dismissal of cases due to mistrial. This can have serious consequences for defendants and victims alike.

Overall, consistency in legal translations is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the legal system because it ensures that legal documents’ meanings are effectively communicated and that all parties to legal proceedings can comprehend the law and its implications.

Montreal Translation Services: How can you guarantee that your legal translations maintain consistency?

There are several ways to guarantee consistency in legal translations:

  1. Work with a qualified, certified translator specialized in legal texts: Legal translations should only be handled by qualified, experienced certified translators who are deeply experienced in both the source and destination languages’ legal jargon and ideologies.
  2. Consistently use the same terminology: To ensure that legal principles are accurately communicated, it is crucial to employ consistent vocabulary throughout the translation. This can be accomplished by employing a legal terminology glossary, translation memories, and by using the same certified translator for all your legal translations.
  3. Examine and proofread translations: To make sure that all legal translations are accurate and consistent, a certified translator should review and proofread your legal translations to ensure that the translations are accurate and consistent.

In other words, certified and experienced translators specialized in legal documents are the answer. 

If you have any German, English, or French legal documents that need to be translated into English, French, or German, I invite you to take a look at my services or send me a message directly right here, so you can get a quote within 24 business hours.

As always, your documents will be in the right hands. Confidentiality and discretion are always guaranteed, whether you choose to move forward or not.