TRANSLATION SERVICES FOR LAW FIRMS
The increasing number of transactions between Polish and foreign entrepreneurs means that law firms, accounting firms and tax advisors providing services to their clients doing business in Poland more and more often need to look for Polish-English and English-Polish translators. Bilingual contracts with the Polish version on one side of the page and the English version on the other are no longer anything unusual. Administrative, tax, civil and criminal proceedings conducted by Polish authorities to which foreign entities are parties often require cooperation between their own legal teams and local Polish law firms. Also Polish notary offices are not infrequently visited by foreign buyers of real estate or business people who wish to up a company in Poland. Unsurprisingly, the language barrier may prove to be a challenge in such cases. Interaction between foreign law firms and local Polish authorities as well as domestic lawyers may be hindered by difficulties in mutual understanding. This is particularly troublesome due to the different legal realities Polish and foreign lawyers are familiar with. Such problems – at least to a certain degree – can be mitigated by professional legal translators and interpreters. They will help with the Polish-English and English-Polish translation of business correspondence and any documents that lawyers or tax advisors may need to build a strategy or to provide their clients with accurate advice. Below you can find some hints about what kind of translation may prove useful for foreign law firms and other professionals operating in Poland or providing services to Poland-based clients.
POLISH-ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF LEGAL CORRESPONDENCE IN A LAW FIRM
Admittedly, daily communication in a foreign language tends to be neglected. Automated translation tools, such as Google Translate, are quite often used to translate emails or letters exchanged with clients and other business partners. Although this may sometimes be enough, when drafting important messages or opinions relating to complex legal issues, the lawyer should exercise a bit more caution. Understanding the specific legal problem and asking the right questions so as to accurately identify what the point is are no doubt indispensable for fruitful cooperation.
Legal translation is not an easy task and, contrary to popular belief, does not simply boil down to transcoding words from one language into another. National legal languages are closely related to the respective legal systems. They contain terms underlain by specific concepts that refer to legal institutions which may differ more or less from one system to another. The terminological incongruence is particularly evident when one looks at the languages of systems belonging to distinct legal families, as is the case with the translation from Polish (civil law system) into English (common law) and the other way round. In addition, in the case of English, there are discrepancies between the legal systems of English-speaking countries themselves, and thus there are differences in the Legal English(es) used in the USA, Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, Australia, etc. English is also the language of international organisations, for instance the European Union, and the emergence of international or EU variants of Legal English, increasingly distant from their roots, is already being pointed out.
The awareness of the phenomena outlined above, an excellent mastery of terminology as well as the right translation skills (yes, being a translator requires competencies and skills that take years of study!) are what professional legal translators can offer. It is they that should be entrusted with the translation of legal content where the precise choice of terminology and the proper communication of the legal message is of utmost importance.
POLISH-ENGLISH AND ENGLISH-POLISH TRANSLATION SERVICES FOR LAW FIRMS: CERTIFICATES, CONTRACTS, STATUTES AND LEGAL OPINIONS
For the reasons described in the previous section, it is even more worth relying on a professional legal translator for the translation of any type of legal, official or administrative documents from English into Polish or from Polish into English. It is all about the reliability of the translated text, the correct reading of the provisions of law, and thus the opportunity to avoid misunderstandings that may trigger painful and costly consequences.
In legal language, nuances are of great importance. Lawyers, legal advisors, attorneys-at-law, notaries, tax advisors and other professionals working in the legal industry know it very well. The difference between ‘perform’ and ‘execute’ when referred to contracts is often imperceptible to the layman. Such nuances are sometimes ignored in translation, which results from shortcomings in the translation skills in the field of legal translation – a truly specialised branch of translation. The terminological consistency, so crucial in legal and official documents and their translated versions, is unfortunately often sacrificed when automated translation tools are employed or if the translator does not have the right competence in this field.
It needs to be emphasised that legal translation entails responsibility. Relying on the wrong translation of a contract or legal opinion, the reader of the translation may make detrimental decisions or misjudge their legal situation, especially when faced with an unfamiliar legal system.
TRANSLATION CERTIFIED BY A CERTIFIED / SWORN TRANSLATOR
Legal translation is a typical kind of work performed by sworn translators; yet, it is always worth making sure that a given translator actually specialises in the field of law. Certified, official or sworn translation (the English equivalents vary…) may be required in numerous administrative, tax, civil or criminal proceedings. In some cases, it is the authority conducting the proceedings that orders a certified translation of the document; in other cases, the party is expected to present documents together with their translations into Polish. Certified translations prepared by Polish sworn translators are also used in foreign proceedings.
A LEGAL TRANSLATOR OR A LAWYER TRANSLATOR?
Let me begin this section by referring to the legal translation service of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which consists exclusively of highly-qualified lawyer linguists. Is that a rule elsewhere? I am asked many times whether a legal translator should be a lawyer himself or herself. As a translator having both linguistic and legal backgrounds, my answer is ‘no’; I do know good legal translators who are not lawyers. There is no doubt, however, that lawyers find it much easier to succeed in the profession of legal translator or sworn translator, provided that they master both a given foreign language and translation skills. Why? A law programme, at least at Polish universities, lasts 5 years. This time is spent in the legal environment and is devoted to learning about a variety of laws, their understanding and interpretation. There is also a mandatory practical placement that allows one to see the realities of the legal profession at least to some extent, as well as to become familiar with the peculiar landscape of the legal system, its branches, institutions, processes and interdependencies. 5 years is a very long time, and still, undoubtedly, it is too short to acquire an extensive, thorough knowledge of any branch of law. However, it is just enough to learn to think like a lawyer and build a mental ‘map’ of the legal system in one’s head. This is what is incredibly useful in legal translation work and what gives an advantage to translators who are lawyers over those who have followed different paths. Yet, the latter should definitely be appreciated for the enormous effort they put into entering the world of law and getting to know it well enough to do their job properly.
Incidentally, it is worth adding that a greater specialisation of the translation industry would be welcome. This may be enhanced by more specific expectations and a greater awareness of clients, who would ideally be searching not just for any ‘translator’, but for an ‘expert legal translator’, ‘expert medical translator’, etc. In a world where everyone can try their hand at translating using the multitude of available tools, the demand for quality should shape a market that responds to the needs of demanding clients, including the needs of the legal industry, whose work is so crucial from many points of view and for so many people.
POLISH-ENGLISH AND ENGLISH-POLISH LEGAL TRANSLATION SERVICES FOR LAW FIRMS OFFERED BY ENGLAW
EngLaw, as the name suggests, provides expert legal translation services, including professional legal translations and certified (sworn) translations of various types of texts and legal documents: business correspondence, contracts, regulations, legal opinions, certificates, powers of attorney, reports, cookie and privacy policies and many others. When using the services of EngLaw, you can be sure that the translation for your law firm will be prepared by a sworn translator with a legal and linguistic background having over five years of experience in specialised legal translation. Feel free to contact us!
Feel free to use our professional certified and ordinary translation services.
Sworn translator of the English language: Ruda Śląska Halemba
Polish-English and English-Polish certified translator: Gliwice, Katowice, Mikołów, Zabrze and the Silesian region
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