Liability clause - is it normal? I would have assumed that they are ultimately responsible...
Thread poster: Lia Fail (X)

Lia Fail (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:38
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 27, 2004

You accept all liability for claims of negligence and/or breach of contract arising from any errors in the translation that you have performed and will indemnify XXXX in respect of any and all liability and loss that XXXXX may occur (SIC) because of this.

This is a liability clause for an agency that have contacted me to work for them.

Is this normal? I would have assumed that they are ultimately responsible to the client, not me, that it's their business and in their interest to ensure that there are no errors in the translation....

Any opinions?

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-07-27 20:18]


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:38
Spanish to English
+ ...
It does sound funny Jul 27, 2004

if you consider the client is in charge of communicating any changes in the text to you and you have no contact with the end client.

Then, in order for something to happen to you because of the clause, something must first happen to your client that your client complains of.


AnaAngelica Amador
English to Spanish
+ ...
How can you be liable for things you cannot control? Jul 27, 2004

When I do a translation for a direct customer, I question him about terms I am unfamiliar with and anything that is not clear. Then, when I am finished translating and reviewing, I get another professional to check my work and make suggestions that I may accept or refute. I have full control of the output, so the translation is my full responsibility, as long as no one on the client's end changes it.

You have to protect yourself and keep protected files of your source and target documents. Many times I've had documents returned to me because the client says there is an error and all I've found are forms that have not been kept current with their source. (Easy to spot, just run a "compare" between the source document they have now and the one they gave you two years ago.)

When I work with an agency, I am not always informed of last minute edits to the original, I am not always aware of changes made by other people. I am not always asked to accept or reject the changes made by an editor. I am willing to accept responsibility for my errors, but only if the project manager shows me where I made the mistake and I see it was my fault.

As far as the amount of the liability -- if you are the responsible party, you may be liable for an amount in excess to what you received. You may have to pay for the entire cost of printing. You may have to pay more if the error in the translation made the customer liable for your mistake. Example: a translated health policy has different levels of benefits, a higher level benefit is printed on one form by mistake, the form is used and distributed, a year later there are claims for that benefit and the company if forced to pay them.

My advice: Become a good record keeper and buy E&O insurance as soon as you can afford it. It's a small investment that gives great peace of mind.


Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:38
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
E&O insurance ? Jul 28, 2004

AnaAngelica Amador wrote:
My advice: Become a good record keeper and buy E&O insurance as soon as you can afford it. It's a small investment that gives great peace of mind.

What is "E&O"? Is this kind of insurance unexpensive or available at all to European/Italian translators?


Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:38
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
E&O Jul 28, 2004

Luca Tutino wrote:
What is "E&O"?

I assume "errors and omissions". As in "E&OE" which accompanies advertsements, which means "errors and omissions excluded".


teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
That's a very broad statement!!!!! Jul 28, 2004

"You will accept all liability from any erros", whoa! That's a scary sentence. First of all, you must be aware that the laws that govern these types of cases are going to vary from country to country. It would be great if we were only liable up to the amount that we received for the translation, but that's not always the case.
I agree with my colleague who said that once the document is out of your hands, most of the times, you have no knowledge of changes that were made at a later date. I suspect that once a problem arises with an error in a document, everyone starts pointing fingers at everyone else, because no one wants to admit the mistake was theirs, and no one wants to pay for the consequences of the mistake.
I know that a lot of translators purchase insurance against this type of event, but it isn't cheap, especially if you don't work all the time.
As a free-lancer, I choose not to work with agencies for several reasons, and this is one of them. When I work with a client directly, I have them sign an agreement (I keep the original copy) saying that they bear the ultimate responsibility for revisions. I've never had a problem. Knock on wood.
I'm also ridiculous about the amount of proofreading that I do, to avoid errors or omissions. But we are all human.
I don't know how others feel about that clause they want you to sign, but if you don't have insurance, it's very risky to work under those terms.
Good luck to you!


PT Translati (X)
United States
Local time: 19:38
Japanese to English

Same story. Contractor is asking me to take 100% responsibility for all damages (even casualties!) arising from my translation work. As careful as I am, I'm human. Another issue is they want to enjoy all the fruits, but accept no responsibility; even though they're working as the middleman.

It seems quite standard in the US, but overseas the translation companies seem to bear responsibility (as they should, since they're working with the clients).\

But any recent thoughts from you guys regarding liability? Do you accept such work or wait for one less liable? Is insurance really worth it?

[Edited at 2010-12-01 23:49 GMT]


Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:38
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
I have rejected something similar Dec 2, 2010

There was a roughly similar discussion in a discussion thread between August 2004 and earlier this year. In that discussion I said I had rejected terms that were less strict than those about which you are now asking.

I think I would accept such terms only if I desperately wanted the work and was confident that all my translations would be very good, but perhaps not even then!



PT Translati (X)
United States
Local time: 19:38
Japanese to English
Thank you. Dec 2, 2010

Thank you, Walter for the link. As much as I would like the job, it's too much of a risk. I also agree with the posters in your link, it would seem unfair that I should have full responsibilty when I don't have the full control of the final product to the client. Also like the other posters, I feel that as the middleman, the agency should accept the responsibility.

I'm going to kindly request that they amend that part of the contract, and see what happens.


Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:38
French to German
+ ...
File pushers, not translation professionals Dec 2, 2010

What such clauses tell me (or what I can assume from them), aside from the insurance problems and legal intricacies, is:

- 1) that the agency most probably doesn't have its own insurance (very bad point);
- 2) that it doesn't do any QA, be it internally or by subcontracting it (even worse point).

All in all, such structures are file pushers or mere mailboxes. They won't add any value to translations you may do for them.

Therefore, I wouldn't care so much as per the liability clause. Yes, it is "normal" - but only for a certain category of agencies for which translators are interchangeable... and disposable.

Do we really want to work for such outfits?

ETA: a short reaction to the title of the OP: my GT&C (and they were drafted by a translators' association under the supervision of lawyers) say that the entity ultimately responsible for the consistency and accuracy of the translated text is neither the translator, nor the agency... but the end client! Which I personally see to be quite reasonable.

[Modifié le 2010-12-02 05:54 GMT]


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