Translation of your contract by a Polish-English sworn translator
Entering into an agreement with a Polish partner might be a step ahead in your business that will open up opportunities in the Polish market to you and your organisation. No matter whether it is a supply, distribution, agency, consulting or any other kind of contract, it is worth making sure that its content is understandable to both contracting parties. You might sometimes be offered a ready-made contract template by a Polish entrepreneur – one they regularly use in their business dealings. Unless you are a fluent speaker of Polish yourself, it will definitely be a good idea to learn what the document says in your mother tongue. Accepting anything like that in oblivion might pose serious financial and legal risks to your business. What is more, you may want to ask your lawyers to analyse the terms and conditions of the agreement, and they will definitely need to understand them thoroughly. Or, maybe, you would like to offer a ready-made contract template to your Polish counterpary yourself? In all such situations, it is worth considering the help of a legal translator capable of preparing a translation of the contract into English or Polish in a reliable and professional manner.
Does the translation have to be performed by a sworn translator?
As a rule, no. There are no provisions of the Polish Civil Code that require that a contract be translated by a sworn translator. Often, however, customers opt for such a solution. Why? Firstly, due to its reliability, which is confirmed by the official certification that the translation conforms to the source document. The profession of a sworn translator is statutorily regulated and is founded on certain principles, including the obligation to stay objective. A sworn translator is also professionally liable for his or her actions. We can therefore be sure that the contract we are analysing has been translated reliably and that the translator has not skewed or hidden some pieces following the client’s instructions. An additional advantage is also the fact that sworn translators are often experts in the field of law
and legal language (however, it is always worth asking if the translator actually specialises in this realm). Anyway, if the parties do trust each other and arrange so, they might choose standard, non-certified translation (which should still be done by someone proficient in Polish-English legal translation).
Some people are really tempted by the idea to deal with contract translation using commonly available machine translation tools. Unfortunately, this is not the best solution. Even though such tools can sometimes help grasp the general idea of, for example, a blog post that we are interested in, they are definitely not worth using to render texts where a full stop or a comma in the wrong place can distort the entire meaning and hence alter the rights and obligations of the parties. Automated translation tools are constantly being developed, but they are still not (and perhaps will never be) able to replace a human being in professional translations of sensitive content, especially legal translations. Therefore, a professional translation of your contract into English or Polish can only be ensured by a good human legal translator.
In relations between entrepreneurs from different countries (but not only – this solution is also used, for example, in the case of employment contracts), bilingual contracts are sometimes used. These documents typically contain the two language versions laid out parallel in two columns or in a table. This structure is important from the legal point of view, as the contract accepted and signed by the parties is worded simultaneously in two languages. It is a much different scenario from the one where, for example, you sign a contract in Polish after reading its English translation previously ordered from a sworn translator. First of all, from a bilingual agreement it is not even clear which language version was the original one and which was the translation. It may also be the case that the parties, during their negotiations, exchanged suggestions for adding or modifying some provisions, first drafting them in their own language and then having them translated. In this way, both language versions will contain portions of the original text and translations, and to make things more complex, they may also consist of fragments created by different people or translated by different translators. Additionally, the issue of terminological incompatibility between languages has to be taken into account. Even with a perfect translation, doubts may arise as to the meaning of certain words in different languages. No language is a 1:1 equivalent of another. In their work, the translator looks for the nearest equivalent of the source language term in the target language, but it is still only the “nearest” equivalent. In the case of ambiguity, the translator also uses comments or notes, including the term of the source language in parentheses. Nevertheless, especially when it comes to Legal Polish and Legal English, sometimes not all the doubts may be resolved. Embarrassingly, Polish courts happen to struggle with the meaning of Polish terms contained in national laws or in Polish-language contracts, resorting to various dictionaries and other reference books; you can imagine how complicated it gets when there are two versions of a certain concept in two different languages. Notably, the Polish and Anglo-Saxon legal systems come from two different legal families, and there are numerous deep terminological differences between them.
The above observations are intended to draw your attention to the solution commonly used in bilingual contracts, that is, the language clause, and more specifically, the choice of the prevailing language version of a contract. Before signing a contract, it is vital to consider not only the law designated in the contract as governing or the jurisdiction of courts, but also whether the contract stipulates a binding or prevailing language version. Less frequently, such a provision indicates that only one of the versions is binding, while the other is solely for informative purposes (it does not differ much from a separately prepared translation, but possibly it may still have some legal significance under Polish law, e.g. as regards defects of the declaration of intent). It is more common to indicate the language version that should prevail in the event of doubt – in such a scenario, as a rule, both versions of the contract are authentic; only if the same provision is understood differently in these languages does the clause in question apply. After all, a contract might not indicate the binding or prevailing version at all. A lot of interesting information on this subject from a legal and practical point of view can be found at the following link: http://www.codozasady.pl/jaki-sens-ma-wybor-rozstrzywajacej-wersji-jezykowej-umowy/ All in all, the language clause is an important provision and should be carefully considered before a bilingual contract is signed.
Translation of a contract into Polish or English – Summary
Although it may seem obvious, when signing foreign language or bilingual contracts, it is worth acting with caution, making sure that you understand the content, the potential need for translation, or the need to conclude a bilingual contract, in the latter case also considering the crucial aspect of the language clause.
EngLaw can help you with your Polish / English contract translation
At EngLaw, I offer professional translation of contracts rendered by a sworn translator with a legal and linguistic background, holding the legal English language certificate TOLES Advanced. Before being delivered to the client, translations are thoroughly verified several times, which ensures the highest substantive and linguistic quality. The range of our services includes both standard and certified translations. Translations are offered locally for clients from the Silesian region as well as remotely throughout Poland and abroad.
Feel welcome to use professional certified and ordinary translation services.
Sworn translator of the English language: Ruda Śląska Halemba
Sworn translator of the English language: Gliwice, Katowice, Mikołów, Zabrze and the Upper-Silesian region
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