Foreign Language Translation for Attorneys and Law Firms, and International Conflict of Laws

Earlier we’ve blogged about document translation in the context of foreign regulatory evidence in products liability cases and about the role of professional translating and interpreting services in enforcing U.S. judgments in Europe. As the business world becomes more and more global, there are increasing instances of conflict of law questions. Essentially, a conflict of law arises whenever a business transaction spans two different countries.

Each country has its own laws governing that type of transaction, and those laws are in conflict with each other.

For example, each nation has very different laws governing in the realm of Intellectual Property Rights. However, by its very nature, Intellectual Property Rights is a cross-border issue, meaning it is ripe with conflict of law possibilities. In the United States, the field of Intellectual Property Rights is heavily guided by the American Legal Institute’s Principles Governing Jurisdiction, Choice of Law and Judgments in Transnational Disputes (ALI Principles). On the other hand, Japan’s legal system falls back on its traditional civil and criminal code. So while Japan tries to fit in a new area of the law into a traditional system, the U.S. uses modern-day legal principles, thus creating a potential area for a conflict of laws.

However, a conflict of laws is not inherent between these two systems. The ALI Principles will often fit into the Japanese civil or criminal system. Thus, the first step in any potential conflict of law case is to determine whether a conflict even exists. To do this, the statutory and case laws of both jurisdictions must be fully examined and, when possible, reconciled. This, of course, involves a foreign language translation. Next, if the foreign language translation reveals that a conflict does exist, one must determine what the conflict is.

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