As time goes by, legal translators and court interpreters will play an increasing role in climate change litigation. At its most basic, a suit for damages caused by climate change is a tort. However, unlike other injury-based torts, climate change claims raise the issue of boundaries. As the effects of climate change are global – and the often-named defendants are multi-national corporations – deciding such preliminary issues as standing and venue are uniquely challenging. More so, the evidence and proof involved in showing how the combined activities of a multinational corporation caused the specified injury not only crosses borders, but also language barriers. Thus, having foreign language translations of documents and foreign language interpretation of foreign witnesses’ testimony is vital.
One particularly unique question raised by climate change litigation is the political question doctrine. In the case Connecticut v. American Electric Power (406 F. Supp. 2d 265, 272 (S.D.N.Y. 2005), the court rejected the plaintiffs’ request for the court to limit greenhouse gases emitted from power plants on the grounds that such a ruling overstepped its judicial authority. In other words, the relief requested was an issue of interstate commerce and, thus, outside the judicial branch.
However, this case fails to answer the question of what happens if the corporation is sued in a foreign country. If, after conducting a foreign language translation of that jurisdiction’s governing laws it is found no such political question doctrine exists, then perhaps the road for climate change litigation may be a bit more open?
Contact our technical translation company to obtain accurate oil, gas and energy translation services and environmental translation services.
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