Legal Translation and Foreign Evidence in US Product Liability Cases: Introduction

We’ve blogged about human translation and foreign language interpreter services in the context of the Alien Tort Claims Act, product safety, translating foreign contracts for court and resolving cross-cultural disputes. Although globalization has changed the way all companies do business, manufacturing companies have been uniquely effected. Any manufacturer who exports products to foreign countries is often required to modify their product line to conform to the foreign country’s laws and standards. Not only is the manufacturing of various alternatives of the same product a challenge, lack of understanding the laws of a foreign jurisdiction increases the risk of liability.

This is why it is essential to always use the services of foreign language legal interpreters and translators.

The same precautions apply to foreign manufacturers exporting their goods to the US and US product liability laws. In the US, in order to prove a design defect, typically the risk-utility test is used. This test balances the degree of risk a certain design poses to consumers versus the utility of that design. When the claim involves a foreign manufacturer, the plaintiff will often utilize foreign language translations of foreign laws and standards to prove the risk-utility test, along with showing that the manufacturer designed the same product differently – and more safely – in a foreign market. This of course leads to a Catch-22 for the foreign manufacturer, who modifies their sound design to comply with US requirements and then is held liable for product liability with this modification being used as evidence of their negligence.

Up Next: Court Interpreting Services
and a Father's Right to Custody in the International Context