July 30, 2014

Legal Translation Services for International Estate Planning

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We've blogged about the need for legal translation services in the context of real estate ownership in a foreign country. International estate planning for international clients residing in the US also generates a need for certified translation of public documents and contracts. How does planning an estate for an expat living in the US differ from any other estate planning issue?

For starters, there is the issue of double (or even triple!) taxation. Many non-US citizens are uncertain as to what kind of taxes they could face. As a general rule, the answer is simple: an individual residing in the US has to pay income tax on their worldwide earnings. In addition, they could also be required to pay taxes on the worldwide earnings to their home country, their spouse's home country - or both.

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July 28, 2014

Arabic Translation Services and Real Estate Contracts in the UAE

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With the United Arab Emirates' economy once again roaring, many investors are looking to the UAE for property investment opportunities. However, there are several differences in the legal system and thus specific steps should be taken. For example, in the UAE only a registered broker licensed by the relevant authorities can market real estate. According to the law, both a seller and property developer must appoint a registered broker via a written agreement. As these agreements are likely to be in Arabic, a foreign language translation will be necessary.

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July 11, 2014

Legal Document Translation, Estate Planning and Foreign Property

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We've blogged about legal document translation services in the context of enforceability of US wills in foreign countries.

When a client owns property located in a foreign country, several unique issues arise. For instance, there is the issue of taxation and, in particular, double taxation. This is because in some cases when a foreign property is transferred via an estate, US estate taxes will apply in addition to any tax due to the country where the property is located.

In other words, when a US citizen who owns property in a foreign country dies, that property is subject to US estate tax. However, the US has estate tax treaties with numerous countries that allow the country where the property is located to tax the estate so long as it is the non-domiciliary country. When the domiciliary country taxes the estate of the foreign property, it must provide a credit to the estate to cover the foreign tax. Thus, if a US citizen dies owning property in country with an estate tax treaty with the US, then the foreign country's estate laws will apply. The US will then provide a credit in the US estate tax to cover these foreign taxes

To ensure that double taxation is avoided, careful estate planning is required. When purchasing a property in a foreign country, it is essential that one understand both property and estate laws there. This will likely require a foreign language translation of relevant laws, regulations and the contract itself.

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July 10, 2014

Legal Translation Saves the Day: Why Translation of Foreign Language Contracts Matters

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The internet has made international commerce easier. No longer does a company have to be large and powerful to have an international presence. But the comparative ease of doing international business is accompanied by legal requirements that many companies may never have encountered before. Suppose you hire someone in another country to do contract work for you, or suppose there is a dispute over something you sell in another country. Legal cases involving contracts are inherently complicated, and when parties to a legal issue speak different languages, they're even more complex.


Boilerplate Language Designating English as the "Official Language" Is Insufficient

Some business owners may believe that adding basic boilerplate contract language declaring English as the official language of the contract is sufficient for making a contract legal and enforceable in other countries, but that is not so. Any contract that doesn't comply with jurisdictional requirements in other countries can be ruled invalid and unenforceable. Many countries require that all contracts be made in the local language, even if both parties to the contract speak English, and in these cases, a professional translation is required.

Any company doing business in non-English speaking countries must understand the rules of contracts in those countries, or else they could end up with contracts that are unenforceable. Professional legal translators with subject-specific knowledge of law, science, engineering, insurance or other topics relevant to the contract are necessary to ensure that contracts are accurate and meet legal requirements in those countries so that they will be valid and enforceable.




Enforcing Judgments Made in One Country in Other Countries

When a legal judgment is rendered in one country, it may not be enforceable in another country. If a contract made in, say, the United States, is to be enforceable in a non-English speaking country, it must include an accurate translation. Additionally, while an accurate translation by a professional translator is necessary for a contract to be enforceable abroad, it isn't sufficient. It's important for those creating an international contract to consider where a dispute is most likely to be raised. If it's more likely that a dispute will be raised in another country, where another language is spoken, then it makes more sense for that country's language to be the official language of the contract, with English versions of the contract made for reference.

When Disputes Are More Likely to Arise in Foreign Countries

Many US companies are learning to navigate the legal environment surrounding contracts with manufacturers in China. For a contract to be enforceable in China, it must be litigated through the Chinese court system, under Chinese law, and the governing language must be Chinese. Non-Chinese speaking US clients who have contracts with Chinese suppliers may be uncomfortable having contracts in a language they do not understand, but it's required by China, and an English translation of the contract can be created for reference purposes. Different nations have different rules about what evidence is admissible in court, and this too often requires that documents be translated professionally.

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July 2, 2014

Apostille Translation and Legal Translation of Public Documents

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Multilingual Apostille translation services are often required these days by businesses and individuals in need of legal translation services. Anyone who has lived in a foreign country may be familiar with the term 'apostille'. When registering as a resident in a foreign country, simply turning in a copy of your birth certificate or marriage license isn't enough. This is because every country (and state, region, etc.) has their own formats for these types of legal documents, and there is no way for one jurisdiction to verify the authenticity of a document coming from a different jurisdiction. In addition, there's the issue of the document being in a language other than the official language of the jurisdiction where it is being submitted.

Clearly, as the world becomes increasingly global and people regularly travel and live in different countries, a system for providing authentication of legal documents is needed. That's why in 1961 numerous countries convened what is now known as the Hague Convention. One of the Convention's objectives was to establish a process for certain public legal documents to be issued by one foreign government to be accepted as authentic legal documents by another government. The result was the Apostille - a certificate of certification that accompanies an original copy of the public legal document. Since 1961, many countries have signed the Hague Convention, including the United States in 1981.

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June 27, 2014

Foreign Language Translation of Wills, and Enforceability of US Wills in Foreign Countries

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Professional legal translation services come in handy in the legal practice of wills, trusts, and estate planning. With many Americans either retiring abroad or owning assets (real estate, businesses, investments, etc.), an increasingly common issue is what happens when the individual dies. If you have drafted a will in accordance with US law, will it be recognized in a foreign country?

The answer, like many legal questions, is 'it depends'.

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June 13, 2014

Multilingual Legal Translation Services and US Patent Law

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With Tesla Motors recently announcing its intent to make all its patents public, US patent law is very much in the news. As this is likely to raise a lot of patent-related questions - both from the US and abroad - we should take this opportunity for a little refresher on US patent law as it pertains to foreign language translation of patents.

As a rule of thumb, all US patents must either be filed in English or accompanied with an English language translation. However, there is an exception that allows for the quick filing of a patent coming from a foreign country. According to the US law and subsequent rules of practice, a provisional patent application can be filed in any language.

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June 2, 2014

Language Translation Service and the Importance of Language in a Global Work Setting

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When a company goes from being a national company to an international company, many regulatory and legal obligations arise. From incorporation to taxation and employment, every marketplace a company enters will have its own rules and regulations. Unfortunately, one of the most crucial aspects to operating a successful multinational company all too often is overlooked due to the attention devoted to these more 'pressing' legal issues. The aspect we are talking about is language.

When operating on the global marketplace different languages come into play. But the issue of language goes much further than communicating to employees and customers. Often times it also involves legal issues. For instance, what language do employment agreements and policies need to be in? Is English sufficient or will a foreign language translation be required?

Statutory Requirements for Foreign Language Translations

As a general rule, foreign language translations into the local language (or many times, languages) will be required by law, often known as mandatory language laws

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May 17, 2014

Professional Translation Services Not Required

There are rare occasions when professional translation services are not needed:

May 16, 2014

Translated Recorded Conversations for Use as Evidence: Part IV Presenting the Foreign Language Translation to the Jury

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Courts have long struggled over the most appropriate way to present recorded foreign language conversations and their English translations to the jury. Needless to say, when a recorded conversation is primarily in English, common practice is to distribute copies of the transcript to members of the jury and allow them to read the transcript as they listen to the recording. By doing so, jurors are able to assess whether the transcript is accurate.

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May 14, 2014

Methods and Procedures for Qualifying Translated Evidence- Translated Recorded Conversations for Use as Evidence: Part III

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Before one can testify as to the accuracy of a foreign language translation, it must be established that the witness is in fact qualified to make such a judgment. To do this, the foreign language translator must establish that they have used reliable methods in preparing the translation.

One common practice, for example, is to prepare an English translation directly from a foreign language recording. Although allowable, the preferred method is for the translator to first transcribe the conversation in the language that it was spoken and then prepare the foreign language translation of the transcript.


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May 8, 2014

Legal Translations and Translated Recorded Conversations for Use as Evidence: Qualifying the Translator- Part II

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The offering party must establish its translation witness's expertise in both the foreign language and English, and their ability to translate from one language to the other. If the party fails to provide testimony attesting to the accuracy of the translation, the translation will not be admitted.

Surprisingly, there is little case law discussing precisely what the offering party must show in order to establish that the person who prepared the translation was qualified to do so, but common sense suggests the following:

  • At a bare minimum, the witness must establish that he or she has sufficient proficiency in each language to be able to understand, and be understood by others who speak or write each language.
  • Evidence of formal education in each language enhances the translator's credibility.
  • Evidence that the witness has lived in locations in which each language is spoken regularly will strengthen the witness's qualifications.
  • Familiarity with the particular dialect or localisms which the foreign language speakers used is useful.
  • Formal training or prior experience in the art of transcribing and translating is another useful credential.


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May 1, 2014

Legal Translation Services and Translated Recorded Conversations for Use as Evidence: Part I

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Secretly recorded conversations often play a vital role in criminal trials. However, circumstances such as background noise, accidents, regional or national idioms, jargon, slang or code may make it difficult for a jury to hear or understand what was said - even more so when the speakers are not speaking English. When the conversation was in another language, additional issues arise: Who should translate the conversation into English? What methodology should the translator use? How should a court determine the accuracy of the foreign language translation? How should the conversation be presented to the jury? How can the adverse party challenge the accuracy of the translation before and during the trial?

Thus, a recording's value as evidence will often depend on whether an accurate transcript may be distributed to the jury. When a foreign language is involved, this also includes determining whether or not an accurate foreign language translation of the recording can be provided.

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April 8, 2014

Multilingual Legal Translations and Franchise Agreements

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According to the International Franchise Association, one of the leading trends in the franchising world today is the internationalization of franchises. This is made clear by the obvious brands, such as McDonald's, Subway and 7-Eleven, which can be found in all corners of the globe. But it is also a trend for the less known and smaller franchises that identify new markets in foreign countries. Likewise, many foreign franchises are appearing in the US market, creating new opportunities for aspiring American entrepreneurs.

As franchising continues to become more and more global, the importance of having a professional legal translation of all franchising agreements becomes essential. Here are some foreign language translation tips you should keep in mind when considering or entering into an international franchising agreement:

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April 6, 2014

Foreign Language Translations and Selling Foreign Rights to Your Creative Product

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Whether it's a movie, music or book, there are many reasons to sell the foreign rights to your creative product. Essentially what this means is that you contract with a publisher, producer or distributor in a foreign jurisdiction in regards to the right to market your product. When this foreign market is non-English-speaking, then you will need not only a foreign language translation of your creative product, but also translation of your foreign rights contract.

As a general rule, US copyrighted work products require a separate copyright for the translated work products in accordance with the copyright laws of the jurisdiction where that translated version is being sold. Thus, you will likely need to file for copyright protection in multiple jurisdictions. Each of these copyright applications will need to be completed in the local language, meaning you will need foreign language translations of your original copyright status.

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