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Contracts in English: how to translate them effectively?

There are lots of reasons why you might need totranslate contracts into English. It is an extremely delicate task if you want to ensure your contracts maintain their legal validity abroad. Here are our top tips for the perfect translation.

When to translate contracts into English

Contracts need to be translated into English when:

  • thecontractors have different mother tongues;
  • the contract establishes international trade relations;
  • the contract needs to be submitted to court in a country where English is the official language.

Why do businesses need to draw up international contracts in English?

There are several reasons why you might need to draw up or translate a contract into English. The underlying objective, however, is to ensure that a legal or sales agreement between individuals or companies is valid internationally.

Drawing up international contracts directly in English avoids a series of problems. First of all, doing so avoids the danger of the contract being annulled.  In some cases, contracts written in a language that the other party is unable to understand may be nullified by law.

Secondly, doing so saves you money on translation costs. Drawing up a contract directly in English means that you will not have to translate it so that it can be approved by the other party or submitted to a judge or arbitrator, as these professionals tend to speak English.

Finally, the legal system governing this type of contract is American common law. Using the language employed by this legislative system in your contracts will prevent misunderstandings and the use of inaccurate terminology.

Who should translate contracts into English?

Contracts are technical documents. They contain specific terms used in the legal and commercial fields.

In addition, contracts almost inevitably contain technical expressions relating to the specific sector in which the contractors operate.

As such, you should enlist the help of a professional translator to translate your contracts into English. In addition to possessing the necessary linguistic expertise, your translator will also need to be familiar with legalese and the technical jargon used in contracts. This will prevent you from running into translation errors that could void your translated contract.

Four tips for effective translations

A good contract translation should accurately reflect all aspects of your legal or business contract. But what’s the best way to go about the process?

Avoid false friends

Words in different languages that closely resemble each other but have different meanings are called “false friends”.

You should avoid using false friends in legal and commercial translations. Every term needs to be accurately translated to avoid misunderstandings or potential legal repercussions.

Use the "right" type of English

English is one of the most commonly spoken languages on the planet and different terms and turns of phrase are used in the various countries in which it is an official language. Effectively translating a contract into English involves using the English spoken in the target country, e.g., the one used by the company, spoken by one of the two contractors, or employed by the court that will be reviewing your contract.

Explain untranslatable terms

It is not uncommon for contracts to contain expressions that cannot be translated into English. In these cases, your translator will have to use longer expressions or add sentences to render concepts understandable in English.

Italian - English translations: how to translate legal concepts

Legalese is one of the most complex technical languages. This means that only a specialised translator should be asked to translate a contract into English. The ideal translator for this task should possess in-depth knowledge of legal and business language in their mother tongue.

It is only by being familiar with Italian legal concepts that a translator will be able to identify the right words to use in English to accurately convey the concepts or rules. Entrusting a complex translation to a translator who does not normally work in the legal or commercial sector might be a bad decision as your contract could end up not being legally valid.

Contract or agreement: which word should you use?

In English, there are two terms to describe a professional or commercial agreement between two parties, and you must use them correctly.

contract is an official agreement, while an agreement tends to be informal and is not always legally binding.

EuroTrad’s Italian to English translation service is one of the best in Italy. Our specialised translators have mastered legalese and the technical jargon used in a range of sectors. Get in touch today and we will accurately translate your contracts into English in no time at all.

Redazione Eurotrad

July 25, 2022

Redazione Eurotrad

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