Legal Contract Translation Services

Translation of Consumer Contracts
into Foreign Languages

Multilingual Contract Translation Services

There is a growing need for translating consumer contracts for the renewable energy industry into the languages of limited English proficiency (LEP) consumers.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs published an informative article on their website a few years back entitled, “Foreign Language Translation Of Consumer Contracts”.

If you ever doubted the importance of hiring only certified legal translators to provide contract translation services, their article should eliminate your doubts.

Their starting paragraph really says it all: “A person in a trade or business, who negotiates primarily in the Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean language in the course of entering into a contract with a consumer, must give the consumer a written translation of the proposed contract in the language of the negotiations. The translation must be an accurate translation of every term and condition in the contract or agreement. This requirement of California law applies whether the negotiations are conducted orally or in writing.”

Let us take a moment to revisit some of the key points in just that one paragraph.

Multiple-Language Contract Translation Services

First of all, we’re not just talking about recommendations here. We’re talking about California law. Of course, California law doesn’t apply to companies in other states, but do not be fooled! Many states, such as Arizona, Illinois, Oregon, and Texas have very similar requirements. Still other states with large ethically diverse populations, such as Florida, Massachusetts, and New York, do not have such laws as of this writing.  It will be prudent to expect that new language discrimination laws will appear in the next few years, and, therefore, prepare for it by having your company’s legal documents translated into the languages of your LEP clients.  In the meantime, check with your state officials to find out what the law says about legal document translation requirements placed on your business, if you are a solar energy contractor and wish to have your standard purchase contract translated into Mandarin, Spanish, Indonesian and other languages of your multilingual clientele.

Why does this law exist on the books in California? That question gets answered in paragraph 3: “The purpose of the law is to insure that Californians who speak a language other than English have a genuine opportunity to read the foreign-language translation of any proposed contract that has been negotiated primarily in that language, and to consult with others, before the contract is signed. It is never sufficient for the seller or creditor to give the foreign-language-speaking person the translation after he or she has executed (signed) the contract.”

In other words, not only is it good business to avoid document translation failures so that you don’t lose money due to poor sales, in many cases it is a legal requirement to have accurate translations.

One of the things that bewilders us is, given the large numbers of ways that translations have failed in the past, more businesses don’t demand certified translators.

We think that kind of thinking is crazy, because it’s basically a case of setting yourself up for failure and disaster.

Not surprisingly, many of the industries targeted by the law are directly related to banking, credit, real estate, reverse mortgages, and mortgage foreclosures.

The bottom line remains the same. If you insist on hiring or involving translators who are not certified, you are actually taking your business’s future into your own hands, and not in a good way.

After all, you really don’t want the government cracking down on you for failure to obey government regulations about professional legal contract translation services where business-to-consumer contracts are concerned. It’s so much easier to go ahead and order multiple-language legal translations into Mandarin, Spanish, Indonesian, Arabic, Korean, Portuguese, or to request a legal document translation into Traditional Chinese.

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