International Contract Advice for book translation
Thread poster: ElayneS

ElayneS  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:25
Russian to English
Nov 4, 2012

Dear colleagues in translation,

I am in the process of negotiating the terms of a literary translation (from Russian to English) with a potential client in Russia. Since the client doesn't speak any English, I am working with a sample translation contract which is written in Russian - my first time doing so.

I'm at the part which discusses Conflict Resolution and the sample contract states that it's subject to the laws of the Russian Federation and the RF courts would be involved in any legal resolutions. I'm not familiar with Russian federal law and, being a U.S. citizen and resident, am not sure this makes sense. However, it doesn't make sense to cite New York State law for Russian citizens (my clients) either.

Does anyone have any experience with international contracts like this, and what language did you use for the conflict resolution section?

Thanks a million in advance!


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:25
Chinese to English
Contract should be realistic Nov 4, 2012

My understanding is that a contract should be an accurate representation of the relationship between you. It sounds like your client is an individual/small company with limited international exposure. What do you think would actually happen if you got into a dispute with this client? Would you want to go to arbitration, or would you want to go to court? Is it reasonable to expect that they would go to a tribunal in New York? Are there any arbitrators in Russia who apply U.S. law, or a neutral law like British? If you went to court in the U.S., could you get a judgment enforced? Do Russian courts enforce U.S. court orders?

Sorry, I realise that's all questions rather than answers, but the point is to put together something that works, rather than just standard clauses that don't achieve a result when something goes wrong. Ask your client if they have any experience, and work out together if there is a body that you can appeal to that you both believe would be fair.


United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Do you need a contract at all? Nov 5, 2012

I've translated something like 25 books, and I've never signed a separate contract. All you need is an exchange of emails agreeing the price, how much is payable when, the deadline, and any other important terms. This constitutes a valid contract in the very unlikely event of a dispute.


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 05:25
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
To Phil Nov 5, 2012

The situation is different if payment or part of it consists of royalties. Then your contract is not with the author but with the publishing company.


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International Contract Advice for book translation

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