Legal Document Translations, International Law and Legal Malpractice

Foreign Law Translation Services

We’ve blogged about professional legal translation services in the context of international legal malpractice. We’ve also blogged about certified legal translations of contracts when doing business with China and other countries.

US attorneys are trained in the US, common law system. However, at least in the corporate setting, many businesses engage in business outside US jurisdiction. Often times these jurisdictions operate under a civil law legal system where the law is systematically codified into various codes. When a US attorney steps out of ‘the common law comfort zone’, they also step into an arena ripe for malpractice.

For example, in the area of contract law there are many important differences between the two systems. In the civil law system there are specific codes that establish preemptory rules that cannot be overridden by private agreements – as is common in common law systems. Another example is the differences in the ease of ‘piercing the corporate veil’. Not fully understanding these differences could cause an attorney to fail in their duty to the client, such as creating unforeseen consequences in the setting up of a special corporate entity in a foreign jurisdiction.

The key is twofold: First, it is important to work with a local partner familiar with the specific jurisdiction. Second, it is essential to have a foreign language translation of all laws, codes and rules and to be able to fully explain the differences to the client.

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