Tag Archives: legal translation

The need for professional translation of legal documents


Perhaps one of the most famous examples of why the translation of legal documents needs to be accurate is the Treaty of Waitangi. In 1840, the British government made a deal with the Maori chiefs in New Zealand; however, both sides were signing different versions of the treaty. In the English version, the Maori were to “cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty.” However, the Maori translation stated they were not to give up sovereignty, but only governance. Decades later, the meaning of this treaty is still unclear.


Treaty of Waitangi (Source: Archive New Zealand)


What is legal translation?


Legal translation is the translation of text into a different language(s) for use in a legal context. Surrey Translation Bureau (STB) has been offering quality legal translation to professional organisations, public sector, corporate and individual clients for over 30 years:

  • Professional organisations and/or public sector

Professional bodies such as the European Union, trade authorities and the NHS are in constant need of translation for their regulations, contracts or processes. Any errors may damage their reputation and delay important decisions. For instance, in 2011, a free trade agreement between the US and South Korea was delayed due to major errors in the translation of the draft agreement. This came shortly after similar delays in another agreement between South Korea and the European Union due to a whopping 207 translation errors in the document.

  • Corporate clients

Whether it’s the business contract, companies’ terms and conditions, financial transcripts or safety regulations for employees, professional translation can protect the companies against massive lawsuits, profit losses, PR nightmares and baseless controversies. In a 2011 case in China, a contract between a local and a foreign company mistranslated “dry docking” as “tank washing,” and another policy had domestic “service” wrongly translated as domestic “flights.” This led to conflicts between the two parties about their rights, obligations and the share of costs.

  • Legal sector and individual clients

Most law firms and agencies use trusted translation partners to ensure they have their clients’ documents ready in the right language and format for use in cases relating to immigration, divorce, lawsuits, property settlement and the registration of patents, to name just a few.



A professional translation company like STB will not only give you precise translation, but also ensure it is ready to use by offering additional services such as notarisation or apostilles. This is particularly useful for individual clients who either don’t have the knowledge or the right connections to get their documents legalised for specific purposes.


In the UK, a common-law country, translators can obtain independent certification (as STB has), and can take an oath in front of a solicitor or notary public, confirming that the document is a true and accurate translation of the original and that they carried it out to the best of their ability. In civil law countries, such as Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain and South Africa, translators are usually appointed by court or by the state.


How to choose a good translation partner for legal documents


“The aim of legal translation is not to erase linguistic and cultural differences, but to accommodate them, fully and unapologetically. The legal translator needs awareness of how the text functions in the source country’s institutional, political, and economic context.” Leon Wolff, The Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies


There are various reasons why you should always work with a professional, skilled and experienced team of translators when it comes to your legal materials.



A professional agency will:

  • – ensure the translation is correct and comprehensible, by using qualified translators who are native speakers and specialise or have experience in that specific branch of law.
  • – offer quick turnaround without compromising on the quality of the translation to ensure cases or contracts are not delayed in the process. At STB, we often deal with urgent requests for our clients.
  • – make sure the translation is valid in the country it is to be used in and for the purpose it is meant for.
  • – take the hassle out of legalising the translated text, whether it is notarisation, Apostille or certification, based on the requirements of its final legal purpose. This means keeping up-to-date with changes in legal requirements.
  • – give you peace of mind about the confidentiality of your critical documents. Most professional agencies comply with GDPR regulations and are also willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement with clients.


“I started using STB’s services when another supplier was unable to turn around a piece of work for me within the required time. I have used them ever since. All of the staff have been a pleasure to deal with and every time my sometimes-slightly-unorthodox requests have been put to them, they have always made every effort to find a way to accommodate me.”

Kieran Mitchell

Solicitor, Travel Law, Penningtons Solicitors LLP


If you would like to discuss the translation of your legal documents, please contact our award-winning team at hello@surreytranslation.co.uk or call 01252 730024.


Written by Marya Jabeen

Complex Texts Translators Have to Work With


We have a whole host of fully-trained professionals here at Surrey Translation Bureau ready to provide you with high quality translation services for a variety of industries and sectors depending on your needs. Our highly skilled team can all too often make their work look easy, but that rarely is the case when it comes to translation! Some documents are much more difficult to translate than others for a myriad of reasons, the least of all being demanding time frames and the handling of confidential personal data – but that’s not all!


Medical Documents


Medical documents contain highly sensitive and critical data, and the cost of any mistakes made during the translation of such texts can be disastrous for all parties involved. Of course, the vital information contained is exactly why careful translation is so important, and translators must not allow the risks to prevent them from helping those in need.



Due to context cues and synonym use in various languages, medical documents lend themselves to a greater probability of being misunderstood; only translators with a qualified medical background should attempt these kinds of translations, to allow for greater understanding of common terms and shorthands that general translators may be unfamiliar with. It should be noted that in a study by the American College of Emergency Physicians, ad hoc interpreters have an error rate of 22% in medical documents, which drops to 12% for professionals (in turn, this drops again to a mere 2% for translators with over 100 hours of experience).



Legal Documents


Like medical documents, legal papers are full of jargon and specialised language which may be unfamiliar or even completely nonsensical to those without adequate training and background knowledge of the legal field. And again, the consequences of incorrectly translating these documents can have devastating consequences for an entire case and the people involved.



Legal translations also have the added difficulty of cultural barriers, in that legal systems differ from country to country, and what may be standard legal practice in one place may be an alien concept to the recipient of the translated documents. This obviously requires that translators be knowledgeable not only in the legal system of their own country, but that where they are translating the documents from!



They may be difficult documents, but we have team members with vast experience in the medical and legal fields able to offer highly accurate translation services for you here at Surrey Translation Bureau. Talk to us today to explain your translation needs in greater detail by contacting us on 01252 733 999 or hello@surreytranslation.co.uk.

Don’t play around with your brand! Translation in the toy industry


“Toy Fair 2018 was a wonderful experience! There were so many people to meet and exciting new creations to play with. I gained an interesting insight into the up and coming trends within the toy industry, as well as the challenges that developers, distributors and consumers face in this global market.”

These were the words of our Project Manager Jessica Truelsen having recently attended the Toy Fair in London.


Jessica from STB at Toy Fair London


The event gave just a taste of how big the toy industry is in the UK and globally. According to The NPD Group, toy industry sales were up 3 per cent from January 2017 through to June 2017 across the global markets. In 2016, sales for the UK toy market witnessed an increase of 6.3 per cent, adding more than GBP 3.5 billion to the market value, and thus making the UK the world’s fourth largest toy market. By the end of 2017, the UK had become the largest toy market in Europe.


Amidst all the growth, toy manufacturers are increasingly looking towards international markets in order to expand their revenues, and distributors in the industry are also keen to bring popular foreign toys to their countries. These days, toys are truly operating on a global stage, the success of fidget spinners being a particularly good example of this:


“While in years past it would have taken something like fidget spinners months to travel internationally, today, social media outlets are allowing consumers around the world to discover new toys at the same time,” says Frédérique Tutt, Global Industry Analyst for Toys at The NPD Group. “Trends are amplifying quickly and becoming more widespread, which is both a challenge and an opportunity for the industry.”


Toy manufacturing industry


In order to keep up with the competition and successfully sell their products overseas, toy manufacturers need to ensure any content related to their toys is fully localised for their target market. From marketing materials to labels, and from packaging to legal papers, everything needs to be in line with the different sensitivities, preferences and requirements of the target country. This is where professional translation services come in.


So, why is translation essential for international toy manufacturers?


To successfully sell your products in a foreign market

international market


There are several examples of packaging translation fails floating around on the internet. While they do provide us with some comic relief, the reality is that they have the capacity to significantly damage big brand names. Your packaging should accurately describe your product whilst remaining within the context of the target country’s local cultures, humour, beliefs and values. Similarly, to get the most out of your marketing materials, you need to make sure that they are not just literally translated into your target country’s language, but that they are properly localised.


To accurately convey safety instructions about your product


safety instructions


Because children are involved, it is essential that safety instructions are clear to read and understand, so that children can handle the toys in the correct manner and avoid any accidents or mishaps. Effective translation will help parents and children to properly understand safety instructions in their own language.


To meet legal requirements in the target country


legal requirements

To launch your product in a foreign country without any legal or bureaucratic hassles, your packaging will need to comply with the legal requirements of that country. Using professional legal translators will allow you to accurately translate warning labels and terms and conditions on your packaging into the language of the country you are exporting to.




If you are working on your export plan, make sure you speak to a professional translation company. Email us on hello@surreytranslation.co.uk or call 01252733999 to discuss your translation requirements with us.


Written by Marya Jabeen