What is legal translation?

Legal translation, like any other type of translation work, is the conveying of the original document meaning with the target language words. However, legal translation is much more complex, because the law in both countries is most likely to be different from one another and as a result, could use varying content and terms within the legal system prevailing in the country where the source document has originated from.

Russian and Ukrainian Law

Both the Russian and Ukrainian legal systems operate under civil law, whilst the English legal system operates under common law, so translating from the latter to either Russian or Ukrainian has further challenges involved. The German legal system operates under civil law, so it could be suggested there are fewer obstacles here than translating from English.

Legal translators understand that English is not very congruous when translating into Russian, as it is not always very harmonious with the legal system. There is also the challenge to overcome of how English contracts are worded. For example, Russian documents tend to be much stricter with grammatical cohesion, but the legal translator cannot omit any words from the corresponding English document and so therefore has to be creative and thorough in their approach, so that both of the documents match.

Why is it important to use a legal translator when translating tax documents?

Wherever you are in the world, you are going to encounter tax documents and if you move countries, then these will need to be translated. Tax records are important legal documents that can be time consuming and complicated to complete. These documents have to be filled out with the utmost care as mistakes can cost companies and individuals time, money and result in penalties and fines, as well as additional audits, all of which adds additional stress to an already challenging situation.

In order to avoid these unnecessary problems, it is advisable to use someone who has expertise in this field, such as a legal translator. It might be queried though as to why a legal translator might be needed for this particular type of document? Tax documents are needed for a wide variety of reasons, such as procuring a mortgage or going towards securing immigration status. Therefore, it would be advisable to secure the services of a qualified legal translator to assist with this work.

Translation of tax documents comes under the remit of financial translation, which in itself is a broad subject. The materials used in this kind of translations are highly specialised and so it is recommended that someone with the right knowledge, both linguistically and financially, is able to be employed here. This will then ensure that the tax documents you have are kept in line with the law and communicate effectively with all the relevant regulatory bodies.

The terminology in some of these documents can be highly complex and so accuracy is vital at every step of the process. Legal documents, such as tax reports, can be very challenging to decipher, even for native speakers, which is another reason to employ a qualified legal translator. Such translation can be further complicated, as tax documents are filled with obscure language and terminology that the majority of people are not familiar with. Therefore, in order to ensure absolute accuracy and compliance, a professional legal translator should be employed.

Another reason to think about the services of a professional legal translator is that if you live in one country but are native to another, you may be subject to multiple sets of tax laws. This itself can cause a multitude of issues, so accurate translation is vital here, again, if fines or even worse, lawsuits are to be avoided. Another common situation is that individuals have income from one country, such as rentals and investments, but they live elsewhere, so again, accurate translation of the relevant tax documentation is essential and should be invested in.

The importance of qualifications

A legal translator will have a very specific skill set and qualifications that enables them to work with accuracy and efficiently within their workflow. This service is therefore much more specialised than the more generic translation services that are freely available. Their impeccable attention to detail, particularly with regards to say commas and decimal points when reading numbers, can make all the difference when translating a tax document from one language to another. If this is not done properly, it can cause an abundance of problems. Of course, it is not the legal translator’s task to calculate the numbers, just to translate them accurately.

Prepared by Yuliya Kinash, certified German & English to Russian/Ukrainian translator

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For the past 16 years, businesses, law firms and private clients have relied on me to provide high-quality translations from English and German into Russian and Ukrainian. From articles of association to user manuals, my prompt, professional services ensure smooth communication across international borders.