When Is Foreign Language Document Translation Required in Litigation?
One of the first cases to address the question of which party is responsible for the costs of foreign language document translations was Rosado v. Mercedes-Benz of North America, where the plaintiff requested a foreign language translation of a German brochure produced by the defendant during disclosure but published by a nonparty. According to the Rosado Court, it was held that CPLR 2101(b), which requires that papers served and filed be in the English language, does not require a party to translate foreign language documents it produces in disclosure. The Court further held that CPLR 3120, which provides for disclosure of relevant documents and things does not compel a party to “create new documents or other tangible items in order to comply with particular discovery applications.”
Further, the Rosado Court held that each party should shoulder the initial burden of financing his or her own suit and, based on this principle, the party seeking discovery of documents should be held responsible for paying the cost of their foreign language translation. This decision was based in part of CPLR 3114, which requires the party seeking a deposition of a non-English speaker to bear the cost of the translation of all questions and answers and to pay the cost of any experts needed to assist in foreign language translation or interpretation.