4 things to remember about translating legal documents


According to the latest research, more and more UK based business owners consider international expansion as the next step in their company’s development. Today, business translations are an important, and for some inseparable, part of the business world.

With the recent changes in the political landscape of UK & Europe, a growing number of not only businesses, but also individual customers require a professional and certified translation of their documents, whether for commercial or private purposes.

At first, translating a legal document is straightforward. Unlike marketing material, there really isn’t much room for creativity and often a word for word translation is sufficient enough for its purpose, whether it’s courts of law or other official institutions like the Home Office.

Nonetheless, when translating a legal document, there is a number of different factors which can directly or indirectly affect the quality of the translation and which make it slightly more complicated than you might think at first. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the 4 aspects of legal translation which you should be aware of before actually translating your documents.

Official certification

One of the most important factors to consider when translating your legal documentation is the certificationand its type. An official certification from an accredited translator or a translation company has legal power and allows the documents to be legally recognised within the UK and abroad, for uses in official institutions. There are different types of document certification – from a standard certified letter proving the accuracy of the translation to a sworn certification, which is done by a solicitor or a legal professional. It is important to know which certification your documents will require before going ahead with the translation.

Country laws

As laws and official names differ from country to country, and sometimes even from one region to another, working directly with a professional translator specialising in legal translations can be essential in order to ensure the accuracy of the documents

A human translator who is not only an expert linguist, but also has experience within the legal sector will be able to fully understand the intendent purpose of the document and localise it so that it makes perfect sense within different countries and law systems. A great example of this could be the official names of the courts and their equivalents in other countries; is Federal court in the US an equivalent of crowns court in the United Kingdom?

Legal translations agency

There are many different ways a business or an individual can go about translating their legal documents. From using free software available online such as google translate to working with an agency specialising in translating such content.

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. One of the main advantages of an Artificial Intelligence translations is time and cost. Such translations however are not usually accepted for the official use in legal institutions, such as courts or the home office.

Working with a professional translation provider on the other hand may have to be incorporated into your budget, but it guarantees that your documents will be translated appropriately and officially certified, consequently legally recognised for the official use. The number of companies specialising in legal translation services is growing rapidly, which is great news for the consumers.


Privacy can be a very significant factor when working with legal documents. It is essential to remember that anything you upload online, for example to translate through a free software, may in one way or another be leaked as it then belongs to the company which translated the material online and which owns the software.

Working with a translation agency which specialises in legal translations guarantees privacy and confidentiality as such companies are able to sign NDAs (Non-disclosure agreements) and work with files which are password protected. This can be especially substantial and important when translating business material.

As you can see, there really are several different factors which can affect the quality of your legal translation. It is important to know the intended purpose of the material before chosing the translation method and going ahead with it. From understanding the different types of certification available, to choosing whether you’ll translate using a free online software, which is faster and cheaper, but does not guarantee accuracy, privacy and often isn’t recognised by the official institutions, or a translation agency, which may be more expensive and take a few days to translate your content, but at the same time guarantees everything free translations do not: certification, accuracy and confidentiality.