7 Difficulties Faced in Business Document Translation

Business and legal translation is one of the most challenging sectors of translation services. If you compare it to any other type of translation in terms of needed experience or skills, you will notice that this one is usually one of the strictest ones. However, this shouldn’t surprise anyone – after all, the documents needed to be translated are often contracts worth a few hundred thousand or even millions of dollars.

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There are several websites on which you can find more about corporate document translations service in general, such as how it works, how you can find a good business translator, etc. – things that are important from the paymaster point of view.

However, that’s not what we will be focusing on today. As we already mentioned, there are many difficulties that a translator needs to face when it comes to legal translation. What are they exactly? Well, that’s what we’re about to find out.

Skillset Diversity

Legal translation is probably one of the most demanding types of translation when it comes to skills and qualifications a translator should have. After all, the translator needs to keep the original meaning of the text they are translating by capturing every nuance, as well as the tone.

Apart from knowing how different legal systems work, a translator also needs to have advanced language knowledge so that they are able to deliver a correct translation, with the same meaning as the original document. 

Certification Required

Contrary to a regular interpreter, when it comes to translation of legal and business documents, the translator needs to have specific certifications, or at least should have. They also should have an understanding of the legal systems of source and legal languages – being competent only in the target language will not be enough.

Why are certifications required? Well, there are several reasons, including authenticity and the confirmation of their skills – the translator needs to attest to the accuracy of the translation through their signature on the document.

Mistakes Can Be Costly

Mistakes made when translating a business document can be quite costly – in a literal sense of the word. Even the slightest misinterpretation can cause a legal argument, financial penalties, or other economic consequences. This will not only make your client lose a lot of money for legal procedures, but they also might not pay you for your work, as often the contracts between translators and their clients have a clause that allows the paymaster to withhold the payment.

Legal Systems May Differ Depending on the Country

Since the legal systems will probably be different across various countries, a translator needs to not only handle both languages of the translated document masterly, but they should also have knowledge about the legal systems and cultures of those two different countries.

However, this difficulty arises not only across different countries, but it might also be the case for different parts of the same country – for example, what is valid in England and Wales, might not apply to Scotland. This shows just how much of a challenge legal translation is.

Some Legal Terms Might Not Be Present In the Target Language

This is probably the most important difficulty translators need to get through – due to the nature of juridical systems, it might be challenging to find a word that will translate perfectly, therefore, causing inaccuracies in the translation. A perfect example is the phrase ‘habeas corpus,’ which is used only in the American and British legal systems, making it difficult to translate to any other language.

A translator might encounter a word that means one thing in one language, and something completely different in another. They need to be aware of the legal jargon so that they can adapt the translation to suit the new local context.

Deadlines are Crucial

While meeting deadlines is important in many professions, it is extremely crucial when it comes to business documents translation. Why’s that? Well, many of the translated documents are either used in court or during business transactions, which means that any delay might cause financial damage.


A person who is just starting their journey with translation might have difficulties dealing with a task of translating challenging legal documents – especially since, as we mentioned, a legal translator needs to have a deeper understanding of various legal systems. Acquiring that knowledge might take even a couple of years.

Knowledge of their own native legal system is not enough. The level of understanding of the legal system of the country the documents they are translating come from is one of the reasons why some of the best legal translators are actually former lawyers.

The Bottom Line

Legal translation is not easy – that’s probably something that most people could guess. There are many difficulties that a legal translator has to face – starting with things that are important in other niches as well, such as meeting deadlines, to the level of understanding of other countries’ legal systems.

Fortunately, all of those difficulties can be overcome with a little bit of work and experience. Isn’t that the case for most jobs? You need to practice something for a while to get good at it and develop habits that will help you overcome difficulties that might be connected with the job, or that might arise along the way. Good luck!

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