US translators -liability issues for translations to be used in court
Thread poster: Emilie Fahlenkamp

Emilie Fahlenkamp  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:32
English to Danish
+ ...
May 18, 2007


I have been sent a large document by an attorney regarding a tax dispute, to be used in court, and am unsure about liability issues involved. Say this attorney loses the case and decides the translation is to blame; could I be held liable without insurance, and what are the issues involved in this kind of thing?

Any advice is welcome, as I have no previous experience in the area and do not want to risk more than necessary, but am unsure of the implications of a worst case scenario.

Thanks in advance,


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
Liability? May 18, 2007

As far as I know, any translation to be used in court in the US does not have to be taken at face value because any party may challenge its accuracy with their own expert should they choose to do so. The translator may also be called to testify concerning the translation and to explain anything the parties may wish explained, and be examined and cross-examined.

I would not see any liability issue there. You would be treated just like any other expert witness. The court can then decide as it may deem proper. If no one asserts any challenge, then they just have to live with what you´ve done.

I have translated an enormous volume of documents to be presented in court through the years, and only in one case have I ever had to testify on one in court. That involved a document amounting to a confession in a murder case. There was actually no issue with the translation, but it was merely felt that due to the gravity of the charge and the nature of the document, all bases should be covered by having me presented as a witness.

I am no attorney so my legal advice is worth what I charge for it, but I can at least say that have never heard of any liability issues at all in this area, and I certainly have never feared any.

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:32
Turkish to English
+ ...
This worries me, too May 18, 2007

I am afraid I cannot answer any of your questions, but I admit to sharing your concerns. I have done a lot of work over the past two years on documents that are to be filed with British courts. Most of the cases involve fraud or disputed payments, and the amounts involved are usually many millions of pounds. I can't help wondering what the consequences would be if such a suit were lost due to a mistranslation on my part.

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US translators -liability issues for translations to be used in court

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