A California case involving a sales contract’s arbitration clause that was lost in translation shows how crucial it is to make sure that legal documents are translated accurately, says Brampton lawyer-linguist Suzanne Deliscar.
“If lawyers are getting a translation done, they want to make sure there’s a proofreading process that goes on,” Deliscar says. “If you have someone enter into a contract, it has to be an exact faithful rendering of the original — if you’re missing a paragraph, then the translation is incomplete.”
The National Law Review describes the case of a man who bought a vehicle from a dealership after negotiations were done mainly in Spanish, the man’s native language. The automobile’s sales contract was written in English, but the car dealership staff provided the man with what “they purported to be a complete Spanish translation of the document,” says the article.
The man signed the English sales contract, which stated he had read and understood an arbitration clause, says the law review.
The version of the contract translated into Spanish omitted the arbitration clause contained in the English version. The man later sued the dealership, claiming that an optional insurance policy he purchased with the automobile violated California’s unfair competition laws, says the article.