Foreign Language Translation Experts, Translator’s Expertise and Foreign Language-Speaking Plaintiff’s Declaration

Language translation issues and translation problems abound in litigation and in courtroom translation and court interpreting.  We’ve blogged about the importance of translator’s affidavit (also known as “affidavit of translation accuracy”, or as “certified translation”) in litigation, court proceedings and arbitration proceedings.  It is often the case that along with a deposition transcript, a declaration of the transcript’s accuracy will be provided and admitted as evidence. When the person making the deposition is a foreign language speaker, the declaration will be written in their native tongue.  In order to submit any translation of a foreign language document as evidence, a party must lay proper foundation as to the accuracy of the foreign language translation.   

In the case Kesel v. United Parcel Service, Inc. No. C 00-3741 SI, 2002 WL 102606, 3 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 17, 2002) the plaintiff failed to lay a proper foundation for the declaration as there was no explanation about how the document was translated, who that translator was, or the expertise of the translator.

Yet the reviewing court failed to reverse the district court decision as the defendant failed to show any prejudice. Instead, the court reasoned that the admission of the deposition transcript in lieu of the declaration canceled out any prejudice as the transcript contained all of the pertinent testimony and information that appears in the declaration.  

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