Foreign Government Lawsuit Translations

Legal Translators for Litigation against Foreign Powers

We’ve blogged about legal translation services for FSIA cases with international ramifications. It may seem like a crazy concept, but in U.S. federal courts both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, as well as the Holy See and the Vatican, have been the targets of a lawsuit, thus requiring legal translation services from English to Latin. So, not only can you sue the pope, but it has already been done.

In fact, over the last four decades more than 50 lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts against foreign governments and foreign officials. Namely, there have been lawsuits filed in U.S. courts against Prince Charles and the current or former heads of state of Angola, Azerbaijan, Brunei, China, Cameroon, Colombia, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Haiti, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Myanmar, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

The lawsuits are often for international law violations such as serious human rights abuses or war crimes. One of the most famous lawsuits includes the lawsuit against Saudi Arabia filed on behalf of 850 victims of the 9/11 attacks. There are, of course, more mundane lawsuits as well, such as suits for breach of contract.

Can Foreign Officials be Subjected to the Jurisdiction of U.S. Courts?

While the concept of foreign sovereign immunity is still a general rule, there are a number of statutory provisions that serve as a vehicle for bringing foreign governments and their officials into U.S. court.  These days some American small businesses and individuals are filing class action lawsuits against the Chinese government over the coronavirus.

When lawsuits get filed, those foreign officials need lawyers, and those lawyers need legal translators to communicate with their foreign clients. Legal translators for attorneys are here to help. Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive legal document translation services.

Certified Translation for The Alien Tort Statute Cases

What is rather interesting about U.S. lawsuits involving foreign governments and foreign officials is that nationals of the countries involved, rather than U.S. citizens, file the suits. Given that complaints often involve human rights violations and war crimes like torture, slavery, and rape, many cases are brought under the Alien Tort Statute or the Torture Victim Protection Act.

There is a fascinating history behind the Alien Tort Statute. Passed by the first Congress of the United States in 1789, the statute, according to scholars, was intended for non-U.S. citizens to bring civil suits in U.S. courts for international law violations recognized in the 1700s, like piracy.

The Alien Tort Statute was not often invoked for over 200 years. But, in the 1970s, lawyers rediscovered the statute and began using it to sue foreign governments for alleged human rights abuses. The suits have the unusual make up of having foreign plaintiffs, foreign defendants, and events that took place in foreign countries. Yet, the case can still be tried in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court has recently put some parameters around Alien Tort lawsuits, but it is still an avenue for redress.

The Torture Victim Protection Act, in contrast to the Alien Tort Statute, was enacted to specifically allow lawsuits against foreign government officials for acts of torture and extrajudicial killings in the officials’ own countries. The idea was that people who could not get justice in their home countries would have a venue to obtain justice.

Certified Translation for The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act Cases

Enacted in 1976, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act is the primary way to bring a lawsuit against a foreign government or its agencies and instrumentalities. The act contains processes by which to sue foreign governments and to attach a foreign government’s international assets to secure recovery in the event the plaintiff wins his or her case.

The Act follows the general rule that foreign countries have immunity from litigation. Yet, the Act contains many exceptions to that immunity. A good portion of those exceptions relate to situations when a government conducts commercial activities in competition with private companies.

Accordingly, whenever sovereign immunity creates an unfair commercial advantage to a foreign government, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act will not impede a lawsuit. Some important exceptions include:

• Waiver of immunity by the foreign state,
• A foreign state’s commercial activities impacting the U.S.,
• Property taken in violation of international law, and
• Money damages sought from a foreign state accused of torture, extrajudicial killing, aircraft sabotage, or hostage taking.

Certified Translation for Litigation against Foreign Governments

Any litigation involving a foreign government or foreign official will likely include a need to have accurate, certified legal translation services. Consequently, if you are a foreign plaintiff, foreign defendant, or an attorney representing either of those parties, then you need a reliable, high quality legal translation service to translate documents and deposition interrogatories from Italian, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Hebrew, German, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese to English, and from English to any foreign language.

Professional legal translation is not the same as having a simple translator. Many translators may be fluent in the relevant language, yet will have difficulty understanding and translating dense, highly technical legal documents and other evidence. That is what separates a legal translator from a regular translator. Legal translators are trained in correctly translating legal terminology and dense contractual provisions. Further, legal translators have a sense of the legal issues in any particular case, and can give more accurate translations because of their understanding of context.

All Language Alliance, Inc. can be your “go to” certified document translation service when you are involved in lawsuits involving foreign governments in the U.S. courts. We pride ourselves on providing top-notch legal translation services, international e-Discovery translation services in all languages, certified translation of foreign statutes from any foreign language to English, and amazing customer service. Contact us today to discuss your legal translation needs, including your law firm’s need for deposition interpreting services in-person and via Zoom in any foreign language.

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