Translating a legal document

Hello translators, today I will show you how to start translation in legal field. Legal documents such as contracts, for example, require much attention and experience to ensure an accurate legal translation. The legal language and concepts may vary from country to country, which is why we always require expert translators. Some countries have specific rules regarding the layout, formatting and drafting of contracts that the translator must consider. Moreover, accurate translations require legal translators who have an excellent understanding of the legal nomenclature, processes and systems, as well as the subject in question.

Who wants to start working in this field must first create a good foundation and a good material to use at work. You can start searching the web glossaries, monolingual dictionaries too, on English law for example. From here, you can create then, carefully, a personal glossary of terms most commonly used in your work.

The biggest problem, that could be an obstacle for a legal translator, is the difference of the industry concepts that can vary from country to country, but even that may be missing in the target language. At this point his skill and talent lie in the fact of being able to find the agreement that is best suited to that of the source language. First of all, we see the distinction between common law and civil law. CIVIL LAW is a codified law. Laws have political training (parliament, government, local authorities, government), and the courts have only the task of applying them to concrete cases, deducing from them the solution to the dispute put before the courts.
The law comes from a legislator who gives off abstract legal norms.

COMMON LAW = law is training judicial and predominantly it comes from solutions that give judges to specific cases or CASE LAW. The judge is bound by judicial or previous JUDICIAL BINDING PRECEDENT issued by higher courts. Here some features of the term:

  • Common law as opposed to statutory law and regulatory law (come fonte del diritto in contrapposizione alle leggi emanate dal Parlamento e ai regolamenti emessi da organi amministrativi). There are “STATUTES” enacted by a legislature (leggi parlamentari), “REGULATIONS” (regolamenti) promulgated by executive branch agencies (agenzie territoriali o organi statali con funzioni esecutive) pursuant to a delegation (in seguito a delega legislativa) of rule-making authority from a legislature, and “COMMON LAW” DECISIONS issued by courts (sentenze emesse dalle Corti)
  • Common law as opposed to civil law (come espressione indicante un sistema giuridico diverso da quello di civil law)
  • Law as opposed to equity (come sistema all’interno delle fonti inglesi, in contrapposizione con l’Equity, entrambi però formano la common law in senso lato).

I analyzed the difference between the professional figures because I noticed, sometimes, there is a lot of confusion and you can have some problems translating the term with the right equivalent of the target language:


In England and Wales there are two branches of lawyers, barristers and solicitors, who are referred to as the legal profession. Barristers are litigation specialists (specializzati nelle cause), lawyers that restrict their practice to the courtroom (avvocati abilitati a patrocinare la cause presso le corti). They form the choicest part of the legal profession and are collectively known as the Bar. Solicitors are lawyers that restrict their practice (si limitano) to the giving of legal advice (consulenza legale) and do not normally litigate. Solicitors deal (si occupano) with simpler matters such as WILLS (testamenti), CONVEYANCE (act of transferring property title from one person to another, diremmo noi cessioni di diritti) and simply civil and criminal cases in lower courts.

In the next article I will speak about the language and the concepts in a contract or document.

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