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Can translation in court lead to issues?

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2022 | Business Litigation

If you need to go to court in China or you are in litigation with a Chinese-owned company in the United States, there will likely be a need for interpretation. If all parties do not speak the same language, you will have to rely on a third party to help you understand each other.

As we all learned in elementary school from the telephone game, things are easily lost in translation as one person relays a message to another. This problem is also something of a concern in legal cases involving foreign litigants.

Translation clarity

One of the biggest problems with translating is there are always phrases or words that have no direct translation from one language to the next. In these situations, the translator must make a call on how to communicate the idea. That opens the door for potential issues, especially in the legal field where words matter and ideas must be exact.

Important roles

The interpreter’s role is also important. It is essential for the interpreter to only act as someone relaying communications. It is not the job of this person to restate things or try to get an answer. For example, if a witness says they do not understand, it is not up to the interpreter to explain anything. He or she is merely a conduit to relay what a person says exactly. If the interpreter takes on a different role, it can lead to issues.


There is also always a chance that the interpreter could use a wrong word or make a mistake when relaying what a person says. These mistakes could introduce serious errors in the case and be detrimental to either side.

When dealing with people who do not speak the same language in a courtroom situation, it is imperative to ensure there is a qualified and experienced translator to help avoid potential problems.