Why foreign contracts need a professional translator
Buying a property overseas can sometimes seem like a minefield and by the time you reach the contract stage, you might be tempted to save money and skip the services of a properly qualified translator.
Here, AIPP member and overseas financial advisor, Simon Conn, explains why in not get this legally binding document checked over by someone who fully understands the language the contract is written in, you risk not really knowing what you are signing up to.
“Legal contracts can feature technical words or phrases that are unfamiliar to most people and when they receive a translated document, they may incorrectly assume they are a carbon copy of the original and sign them without question.
Numerous horror stories tell of people not using the services of an expert, thinking that relying on their phones or putting phrases into an online translation service will be sufficient – but it never is.
To test my theory, when a client produced a contract which was originally written in Spanish and converted into English by a translation website, I asked my Spanish lawyer to check it and give me feedback.
He found that while it was generally readable, some phrases were clunky or disjointed, with awkward phrases and a lack of context. On top of this, the online translator was unable to recognise all the words. Just think of the difference even one word can make when it comes to legal documents.
I also asked an English-speaking Spanish tutor to test his skills in translating another contract. He was also unable to identify all of the words and phrases because he was unfamiliar with the legal words used.
You will have worked out by now that it would be a bad idea to rely on foreign language students for help, as, like the Spanish tutor, they are highly unlikely to have the knowledge required for this sort of property contract.
While it is true that the costs of buying a property abroad can soon stack up, tempting some people to cut costs by using a free translation service, bear in mind that misunderstandings in contracts can cost you dearly in the long run.
So rather than signing a contract you do not understand, or signing a version in your mother tongue without checking it is a correct translation of the original, let me put you in touch with my professional linguists who are proficient in more than 90 languages and dialects. You will not regret it if you do – but the same cannot be said if you do not!”
Simon can be contacted on:
Tel: + 44 (0) 7739 033266