Language Translation and Contract Interpretation:
Foreign Language as Trade Use Evidence

Legal Contract Translation Services

Depending on the quality of the original source text, foreign language document translations may sometimes be perceived as ambiguous. According to the Law of Contracts, one method for interpreting the terms of an ambiguously written contract is to look at any terms of trade used within the document. This refers to any terminology that has a special meaning within a given trade that is the subject of the contract. However, this can become an even more complicated task when the terms of trade are in a foreign language.

The first issue the courts will look at is whether or not the foreign language term is made in the language regularly used in the respective trade sector. If so, then that term will be considered a term of use and, therefore, its meaning both will be considered to be understood and agreed upon by the parties. Once a foreign language translation of the term is completed, the meaning of the foreign language trade term will be read into the contract and given due consideration to usages and practices observed in the trade in question.

See Kamzimierska (1999 – 2000): Pace Review of the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, referring to the Socks Case (1995).

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