Legal Translation Services for the Discovery Phase of Litigation
Legal translation services for commercial litigation are needed by international and domestic law firms daily. The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has ruled “It is clear, to the point of perfect transparency, that federal court proceedings must be conducted in English.” United States v Diaz, 519 F.3d 56, 64 (1st Cir. 2008).
Furthermore, according to the court, this requirement includes an obligation on the part of litigants to translate all foreign language documents into English. However, as anyone dealing in international commerce knows, business isn’t always done in plain English. Instead, correspondence, documentation and emails are often done in a foreign language. As all of these are relevant to a commercial dispute, satisfying the legal requirement for English can be challenging – to say the least.
According to an article in the National Law Review, to navigate such situations, it is essential that a litigator develop a strategy and procedure for ensuring that any relevant and helpful foreign language documents are:
• Identified and understood by the entire litigation team; and
• Admitted into evidence.
This process begins with the discovery stage. If some documents are in a foreign language, it is important to specify in the discovery request that the request covers documents in English and all other languages, including Korean, Mandarin, French, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish. Once received, these documents should be translated immediately, thus giving your legal team ample time to review them in full and incorporate into your deposition and trial strategy.
To make sure nothing is lost in translation, it is essential that all documentation be translated by a professional legal translation company. The foreign language translation should include a declaration or affidavit attesting to the professional translator’s qualifications and certifying the accuracy of the English translation. Remember, this isn’t optional. According to Federal Rule of Evidence 901, a proponent of any item of evidence must “produce evidence sufficient to support a finding that the item is what the proponent claims it is.”
With the certified foreign language translations in hand, it is highly recommended that both the original and the translated versions be included in your deposition exhibits. Further, with the deposition testimony of a witness who speaks the language that the original document is written in, you will solidify your grounds for the document’s admissibility as evidence at trial.