Looking for textbook(s) on legal translation, French to British English
Thread poster: Anna Fitzgerald

Anna Fitzgerald  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:09
French to English
Aug 28, 2004

Hello, I am preparing the legal paper for the IOL's diploma in translation. I have no experience in legal translation and am thus trying to learn as much as possible through on-line courses and regular old textbooks. I've ordered the proper legal translation dictionaries but still want something more readable on the topic of translating legal documents (commercial law, criminal law, civil law, case studies, legal reviews, court reports, law reports) from French into British English. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.


Mary Lalevee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:09
French to English
Suggested reading Aug 29, 2004

I suggest you read "Introduction to French Law" by Walter Cairns and Robert McKeon, ISBN 1 85941 112 6. There is an excellent chapter on legal translation.

Knowledge of French law is essential for F/E legal translation.

Good luck!
(F/E tax and legal translations)


Monica Sandor  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:09
+ ...
legal translation Aug 29, 2004

For legal usage in English (covering both UK and US), I use the standard Black's Law Dictionary (now in its 8th ed. West Groupm 2004), still considered the 'Bible' in this field.

It depends also on which French-language legal system your texts will refer to - I presume France, but of course there is also the Quebec (and Belgian, Swiss, etc.) systems. One advantage for Quebec is that the statutes, and other documents are published (and online) in both English and French so you can look up a given text and see how their official translators have rendered it into English. A French-English glossary of terms related to parliamentary procedure is available at

For certain laws that are affected by EU (or UN) legislation/directives (eg immigration, international trade, etc.) there is also the advantage that the various international documents are available (usually online) in both French and English versions, thus also allowing one to do word searches in the French text (with the 'Find word on this page' search tool in I Explorer) and then find the corresponding place in the English official version.

The Grand dictionnaire terminologique in Quebec also helps with French usage and French to English transations (www.granddictionnaire.com). Also for Canada, a law dictionary (English only) with good definitions is maintiained by a British columbia lawyer, George Duhaime (http://www.duhaime.org/dictionary/)

Good luck with the preparations!
Monica Sandor


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