Why you should do more than just translate a contract

Can you not just translate it? This question is asked to us a lot by our clients who want to just translate their contracts and use them in the English language. The other day, a client reached out to me and gave me a contract in German. They asked me if they should just translate the contract or if they should actually rework the contract. This contract was for a substantial amount and it involved an American partner. This could potentially put our client in the arms of an American court. So, a translation of a German drafted contract using German terms certainly would not do the trick.

 

However, there are discussion points which could be used, so in a way, it is very helpful to have a German contract or a contract from any other country and use that contract for the purposes of making it more American. In the end, it boils down to the following; does the court understand the contract, or do they feel that it is just a translation, and are all legal consequences and legal remedies properly addressed? Because certain German legal remedies may not be available in the United States. The last thing to look out for is how would a jury potentially take a look at this contract to feel about clauses that they have never heard or seen before? Just a translation may not always do you justice, so reworking the contract is a better way than translating it.