Legal Language Services, Legal Translation, Choice of Law and Doing Business Abroad

We’ve blogged about legal translation and international conflicts of law; about legal translation and legal interpretation services in international arbitration, and about court interpreter and legal translator services for the claims brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA).  Legal translation services are important for all American companies doing business abroad.  Legal translations become vital when an American company doing business abroad is accused of human rights abuses.  One of the immediate legal issues that arise is a choice of law question.

Four basic issues play into this determination: international comity, judicial competence, foreign affairs doctrines and due process rights for the defendant. Along with these questions is the role of international torts. In several high-profile cases, U.S. courts have held that harms carried out by American corporations outweighed any pragmatic considerations that may otherwise weight in favor of dismissal. Thus, the question comes down to which state’s laws should be applied (U.S. law or the foreign law).

In making this determination, courts tend to favor a two-part analysis as stated in the Restatement (Second) Conflict of Laws. First, the court asks whether there is a conflict between the two jurisdiction’s laws and, if there is, which state has a greater interest in regulating the conduct at issue. Although a foreign jurisdiction has an interest in setting its own legal standards for liability, the U.S. has an interest in protecting its citizens and companies from facing a competitive disadvantage in the international marketplace.

When making a choice of law argument in such a situation, foreign law and standards will have to be presented as evidence. To do this, a professional foreign language translation of the laws must be done to allow for an analytic comparison.

Up Next: Role of Foreign Court in Russian Litigation and Arbitration