Document Translations by Lawyers and their acceptance by Governmental Departments and Courts

globe-110775_1920-1The Republic of Cyprus has been gradually integrating itself into the international society and has been developing a variety of relationships with foreign physical and legal persons. For this reason, the need for a review of the regulation of valid and official translations has become increasingly necessary. Appointing and codifying this right to qualified multilingual lawyers is an essential step in the improvement of the regulation.

As it is widely known, document translations are currently undertaken by persons who, under oath, declare their knowledge of the relevant languages. However, this is currently not sufficiently being inspected.  It is merely verified by the authenticity of their signature on the document that seals their under oath declaration. This is concerning because providing justice often depends on the wording in translations executed by these persons which may not be accurate.  Furthermore, locating these persons can be difficult thus reducing the possibility of proving their knowledge of the language in which the document has been translated.

However, if this is handed to lawyers, they can certify the correctness/accuracy of a translated document, thus undertaking the relative responsibility, while making it easy for them to be located and cross-examined regarding the correctness/accuracy of their translation.

Therefore, the codification of the right for lawyers to undertake the certification and translation of documents may eliminate such risks. This right will presume that lawyers will be translating to and from a language which they possess. In addition, this right will apply to all lawyers in possession of an active law practicing license.

The validity of a document translated by a lawyer can be confirmed with the insertion of a clause at the bottom of the document. This clause will include the name of the lawyer which has undertaken the translation, the date, signature and seal, as well as, the relevant necessary stamps may be attached to the translated document.

Moreover, the aforementioned right may be restricted in such a way, that it will not be permissible for the lawyer to certify in any way any translated documents which were undertaken by third persons. However, if a translation is undertaken by employees of lawyers/ law firms, the responsibility/liability is held solely by the employer (lawyer/law firm) who certifies it.

Providing this right to lawyers is based on the lawyer’s possession of the relevant legal terminology needed for an accurate translation. In any case, lawyers are bound by the Ethics Rules and by the Lawyers’ Law, improving professionalism and accuracy. In addition, translations by lawyers towards clients, orally and/or written, are undertaken on a daily basis for purposes of time saving, fact which renders the provision of the aforementioned right as necessary and contemporary.

In Greece, Article 56 of the Lawyer’s Code, as well as Article 454 of the Civil Procedure Code, codify the right to legal document translation by Lawyers. According to article 56 of the Lawyer’s Code, the lawyers, subject to being registered at the Registers of Members of the Greek Lawyer Associations, have the right to translate to the Greek Language (and vice versa) documents of any nature which have been drafted in a foreign language. Subsequently, these translations are mandatorily accepted by the Greek Public Departments.

All in all, the codification of this right is expected to bring a great improvement to the quality of translations, for the fulfillment of three main purposes. Firstly, the valuable time of Courts will not be wasted for any reason. Secondly, the persons who undertake the translations will also undertake the responsibility which comes with it. Thirdly, there will also be a financial benefit towards the Republic of Cyprus, with the attachment of the relevant stamps on the translated documents. For these reasons, should this codification take place, translations by lawyers must be acknowledged by the Governmental Departments and Courts of the Republic of Cyprus.