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Why Should We Have Legal Translation?

By Shohreh Fleming

 

02 July 2012

As citizens of the United Kingdom, we have access to certain facilities that protect us from injustices and prejudice. These systems safeguard our rights and give us the freedoms that we enjoy day to day.

As the cultural face of the country continues to change, institutions and organizations need to make sure that immigrants are afforded the exact same rights that are in place for current citizens.

Attracted by the higher salaries on offer in the UK, individuals from all over the world have made the journey to the UK to look for work, many of whom have only a rudimentary understanding of English upon their arrival. In some cases, this can leave people open to exploitation and other violations of human rights. The need for legal translation is made even more pressing in light of the recent economic migration after the 2004 expansion of the EU, prompting the arrival of an additional 124,000 people from Poland in 2006 (source:www.statistics.gov.uk).

Law firms employ specially trained linguists to provide accurate and precise translations of documentation for individuals of non-UK heritage. This means that we can safeguard the rights of the individuals in question and preserve the law; making sure that individuals understand how it applies to them, as well as the precise terminology that may be used in the proceedings related to them.

It is imperative that the law is made clear and accessible to all parties concerned. And getting the correct person for the job means that the case can move relatively smoothly toward its natural conclusion, saving both time for the parties involved and money for the firms.

Indeed, assignments within the legal system are not merely handed out to anyone with translation qualifications and experience. Due to the highly sensitive and immensely complicated nature of the proceedings, only qualified translators are suitable to fill these roles.

Interpreters need to maintain a non-judgemental attitude and approach to each of the cases that they handle.

Legal cases often deal with matters of cultural sensitivity. Every nuance, cultural reference and facet of a case needs to be handled with skill and acute sensitivity to the culture in which it is taking place. There is no margin for error. In fact most translation service providers will only employ skilled translators and interpreters who work exclusively within the legal profession; mainly because the firms themselves express this as a strict stipulation. In fact it is justifiable to say that legal translation is a field of its own.

Translation within the legal system can be considered one of the most painstaking and meticulous forms of the discipline. Where, in some forms of translation, simply getting the message across is sufficient; in the courtroom, a linguist is required to have an erudite understanding of law, specific cultures and sociological make-up of those cultures in order to convey messages succinctly between solicitor and client.

It is critical that these aspects are incorporated into the ethos of the legal translator because, as mentioned at the head of this article, there are serious human rights issues to consider. And, by facilitating the provision of legal translation for non-UK nationals, we encourage intergration by offering the same access to legal aid for everyone, regardless of nationality.

 

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