Arabic Legal Translation: Approach and Case Studies



Arabic Legal Translation Approach and Case Studies

Quality Arabic legal translation can mean the difference between success and failure. That’s why so many lawyers and their support teams have chosen to work with Industry Arabic on key cases.

We have translated thousands of pages of legal text, from all Arab countries, between English and Arabic. These include:

  • Contracts
  • Constitutions, laws, and decrees
  • Judgments and arbitration rulings
  • Legal commentaries
  • Evidence files (including Arabic handwritten documents)
  • Expert reports on human rights law, governance reform, and development
  • Patents and other technical documents
  • Correspondence for cross-border negotiations
  • Ministry documents, org charts, and PowerPoint decks

The Unique Challenges of Arabic Legal Translation

Translating legal documents from across the Arab world presents many issues, including:

Regional Differences. Arab legal systems have evolved in different directions over the decades. Islamic Shari’a, the Napoleonic Code, British common law, and Ottoman Kanun law have all influenced Arab legal systems over time. When it comes to legal terms and court systems there is no “one size fits all” approach. Arabic legal translators must not only be familiar with English legalese but also with how these terms apply in various Arab states.

Same Word, Different Meaning. Another challenge with Arabic legal translation is that words mean different things in a legal context. Mistranslating words like “action,” “representation,” and “assignment” can reverse the meaning. This can cause major legal headaches down the road. For example, the Arabic term رهن can mean pledge, pawn, security, collateral, or mortgage, depending on the context. The English word “charge” can carry the financial meaning of a fee for service, a formal criminal charge, or a lien. Each of these meanings requires a different legal term in Arabic.

Arabic Handwritten Documents. While the translation industry is going digital, many Arabic documents remain in longhand. Most depositions, witness testimony, police reports, and other official legal documents are handwritten. These documents are often photocopied hastily, leaving source materials hard to read.

Stylistic Challenges. Arab court rulings are written in a style that is hard to unpack. Rulings often contain the arguments of both parties, case law excerpts, and the judge’s opinion, all rolled into a single, page-long sentence. Needless to say, these complex forms must be broken into shorter English sentences. It is critical that translators understand the underlying case, and not translate mechanically.

How We Add Value

1) Experience. Legal translation is a cornerstone of our work. We’ve helped dozens of law firms handle their most sensitive cases. We have worked on English – Arabic legal translations in Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, the Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and more.

2) Big Jobs Done Fast: When speed is critical, we use a team of linguists to split up projects for faster completion. Our rush service can exceed 15,000 words per day of polished, high-quality Arabic legal translation.

3) Responsive Service: You can always get in touch with our global team if you have a question, a tight deadline, or any other issue.

4) Certified Translation: We offer certified translation services on request. This means we affix our company stamp to each page of the translation. We also provide a notarized, signed affidavit attesting to the translation’s accuracy.

5) Arabic Handwriting Expertise: Our team includes several experts in Arabic handwriting analysis. We are able to decipher and translate the most challenging handwritten documents.

Legal Translation Case Studies

200 Page Arbitration Ruling into Arabic. We translated a recent energy sector arbitration result into Modern Standard Arabic. The text combined industry-specific technical jargon, economic analysis, and complex legal claims. Our team translated the document in two weeks, along with several other rush requests related to the case.

Translating Massive Legal Database. Translated hundreds of laws relating to the security sector in a MENA country. Now exceeding half a million words, these translations form part of a legal database providing a complete record of the past fifty years of security sector legislation.

Translating 1,000 Pages in a Week. Our client needed a strategic plan translated into English. With a team of 20 linguists, we delivered the priority sections overnight and finished the full document in one week.

Handwritten Evidence Documents. We translated dozens of pages of handwritten evidence materials, written in a North African Arabic dialect. Our team deciphered nearly all of the difficult handwritten documents.

Egyptian Supreme Court Ruling. On a next-day basis, Industry Arabic translated a landmark Egyptian Supreme Court ruling. The case cleared the way for former NDP member Ahmed Shafik to run in the 2012 presidential elections. Shafik ultimately lost to Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi.

Want to Discuss a Project?

To discuss an Arabic legal translation project, call +1 202 753 9834 or get in touch here. We respond outside normal business hours.

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