Language Translation Services and Ethics in Business Negotiation

We’ve blogged about online legal language interpretation and translation services during of attorney-client communication with LEP (Limited English Proficiency) clients. Ethics questions always seem to arise in the gray area of attorney responsibilities with respect to persons other than clients during a negotiation- especially when those individuals speak a foreign language. According to attorney Arthur J. Lachman, in this situation the attorney’s ethical obligations can be summaries into four points:

  1. The attorney cannot make false statements of material fact, or allow their client to omit material facts whose omission would constitute fraud.
  2. An attorney cannot otherwise assist a client in a course of action (including negotiation) constituting criminal or fraudulent conduct.
  3. An attorney cannot communicate with the adversary client without the knowledge and consent of the adversary attorney.
  4. An attorney should advise the adversary of an erroneously conveyed document.

Of course this seems all very straightforward. However, when dealing with business negotiations, often times an international factor comes into play. Perhaps the opposing party is from a foreign country with different cultural norm as to what is and isn’t ethical. In such a case, if you stay true to the above rules do you put your client at a disadvantage when the opposing party is abiding by different rules? And without a foreign language translation, can one be sure they have not assisted in criminal or fraudulent conduct? These are important questions to consider.

Up Next: Language Translation and the New Foreign Tax Credit Blending Rule

All Language Alliance

by Legal Translator & Court Interpreter

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