Legal texts on websites and online shops are like contracts. Customers have no choice but to accept them and they usually do – without reading. But these texts are also a way of meeting legal requirements and if, as a company, you fail to do it properly, you are subject to fines and various legal complications.
The three most important things to remember about legal translations are:
- Each country or region requires a different list of legal texts and suggests different forms of that content. It is a business’ obligation to meet those requirements. Most of them are meant to protect customers, not companies.
- Countries have completely different legal systems stemming from different legal traditions. That is why legislation not only has different names for the same notions: sometimes the notions are completely different or missing. Usually the legislation is structured differently. That is why translating legal texts often is more of a localisation than translation effort.
- In many business cases (e.g. e-commerce), translating legal documents is not about people in the new market wanting to know your regulations from your original market. What they want to know is which regulations apply in their market (i.e. your new market). Because the law is different in each country, companies need to adjust their intended rules to the legislation of each market separately. Remember that some of your preferred solutions may be impossible and simply illegal in a new market.
When we write “legal texts” we do not only mean GDPR or returns policies. For an online shop, for example, you should also look into delivery regulations, payment regulations etc. as legal content.
Because of all the aforementioned issues, it is advisable to not only provide translators with the legal text, but to supplement it with an interpretation document covering at least the most important and/or most ambiguous points.