Certified Translation for Transnational Estate Litigation

Legal Translation for Transnational Estate Cases

We’ve blogged about legal translation services for estate litigation. You are handling a client’s estate case. You are skillfully helping your client navigate the complicated waters of splitting up an estate. The one wrinkle – one of the parties is not in the United States anymore. In fact, everything about your case is based in the United States – American court, American plaintiff, and American defendant. Yet, the American defendant just moved to Paris! What to do?

Well, if you need to serve the defendant on behalf of your estate client, do not fret, but make sure you translate. In other words, with service of process, you need to observe the laws of the destination country, France in our example. So, you need to make sure you follow the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (the “Hague Service Convention” or “Hague Convention”), provided the destination country is a member state. And above all, you need to make sure that your legal documents are properly translated.

For more information about obtaining professional certified translation services, look no farther than All Language Alliance, Inc. at 303-470-9555. You can also email us from our website at www.languagealliance.com.

This blog post will discuss the various provisions related to serving process in a transnational estate case, and the dos and don’ts on obtaining certified translations for international service of process.

Article 5 of Hague Convention – Document Translation for Service of Process

The Hague Service Convention, at Article 5(3), provides as follows:

If the document is to be served under (Article 5), the Central Authority may require the document to be written in, or translated into, the official language or one of the official languages of the State addressed.

While the language of the Convention says “may require,” the Central Authority almost always requires that a document be translated into the official language of the destination country. In fact, Switzerland and Belgium go so far as to require translations in the dominant language of a particular city in which the party to be served lives.

Moreover, in cases in which the Central Authority does not require a legal document translation, some other official who needs to deal with a request involved in the transnational estate matter will likely not do anything unless he or she has a translation.

Accordingly, the best practice in this area is to make sure that you have a proper certified translation at the outset so there is no roadblock or problem later on. In fact, spending the money upfront to have the service of process documents translated will very likely save a lot of money and aggravation on the back end.

Article 10 of Hague Convention – Service of Process by Mail

A recent Supreme Court case clarified law with regard to Article 10 of the Hague Service Convention. In that 2017 case, Water Splash, Inc. v. Menon, the Court dealt with the Article 10 provision that states that the Convention “shall not interfere with . . . the freedom to send judicial documents, by postal channels, directly to the persons abroad.”

The question the Court decided was whether that provision applied to service of process, or simply allows parties to transmit judicial documents by mail once a party has been served. The Court determined that Article 10 applies to service of process, provided that the destination country has not objected to such service, or otherwise objected to Article 10(a) of the Hague Service Convention.

When it comes to translating documents, the same advice for Article 5 applies to Article 10 service as well. Make sure that the documents you serve are translated into the language of the destination country. It will avoid more problems down the road.

Certified Translations: Don’t Be Pennywise and Pound Foolish

As an attorney, you know that any litigation will come with unexpected surprises. You want to be sure to minimize those unpredictable events by taking care of any contingencies that you can. Having your documents properly translated is one way to minimize problems.

You may – or may not – be surprised to know that there are those who may resort to Google translate or some other do-it-yourself answer to translating legal documents. Unfortunately, that is not a fruitful option. While Google translate or other online language helpers can be great in a pinch, legal documents have terms of art and odd grammar construction to effectuate the legal purpose of the document. Informal, online translators are not sophisticated enough to pick up on the nuance of legal and technical terms or phrases.

Accordingly, you would be wise to have a professional, reliable legal translator at the ready to help you and your client. A good analogy is the classic home improvement project. In a sweep of optimism, you decide to tackle a home improvement project yourself. Then, Murphy’s Law kicks in, and you end up needing a professional plumber or electrician to finish the job, at a greater cost than if you had the professional start at the beginning. The same goes for certified translations.

Make sure to avoid problems down the road by getting a professional certified document translation first. We welcome you to call us at All Language Alliance, Inc. Our number is 303-470-9555. You can also email us from our website www.languagealliance.com to request certified translation services from Norwegian, German, Swedish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, and other languages to English.

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