I don’t have an FAQ page on this blog, but if I did, the very first question out of the gate would be “How do I cut that translation cost down from $50,000 to a more manageable figure?”

It really is a shock to a litigator’s system– especially that of a patent litigator– when they’re told that the documents they have to serve in Germany or China or Mexico will cost them five (or six!) figures to translate. Those countries’ declarations to Article 5(3) of the Hague Service Convention require translation. Period. And most other countries require it too, with no exception or variance as to what gets translated and what doesn’t. It means everything. Continue Reading The time to save money on translation is *before* filing.

Edward Orde, via Wikimedia Commons.

<— Unless this thing used to fly over the jurisdiction where you’re serving, odds are pretty high that you’ll have to translate in order to satisfy the requirements of the destination jurisdiction under the Hague Service Convention.  In most places, there’s no getting around it, even if your defendant was born in Chicago and taught Shakespeare for thirty years before settling in the Kobe Prefecture or a quaint village just outside Palermo.  If you intend to serve him, foreign authorities will require a translation.
Continue Reading Beware the lowest translation bidder– especially those who price by the page.

Sunnmørsfæring exhibited at Herøy Coastal Museum, Møre og Romsdal, Norway. (Photo: Silje L. Bakke, via Wikimedia Commons)

Another Frequently Asked Question on board this little Faering that is my law firm:

“Does my translation have to be certified?”

By frequently, I mean at least once a week for several years.  Most recently, it came in the form of a comment on my old post, Yes, counsel, you do have to translate that thing, but it’s often a question in the mind of the lawyers and their staffs who call or email me.  Their Googling has led them to believe it’s a looming issue, and if they don’t have the proper certification, their Hague Service Convention request is doomed.

The short answer: no.  But with a trio of caveats. 
Continue Reading “Certified” translations… not a real thing. At least, not a real *legal* thing.

For the record, this story did not originate at Foley Square.  S.D.N.Y. clerks are on the ball.  This story happened in another highly sophisticated district– one with LOTS of maritime and IP cases, many of which I’ve had served without such hassle.  Image: TJ Bickerton, via Wikimedia Commons.

A new quandary popped up for me recently, one that I hope is just a matter of a stressed-out government employee* who’s been dealing with a lot over the past two years.  Last month, a client called me because he needed to serve a defendant in SwedenNo problem, said I, as long as you have a valid address, we should be good to go.  He engaged me, and we were just about ready to rock & roll with the Hague Request, but before I pulled the trigger on the translation, I said I needed an issued summons.  No dice, said he.  He had been told by the court clerk that he had to submit the translated version of the complaint before a summons would be issued.

Um, huh?  Wha… ?   

Continue Reading Sorry, court clerks—you don’t have the authority to review translations.

He’s grumpy. But he calls the shots. Not some smart-mouthed fellow from out of town.  And he certainly doesn’t cotton to your unfamiliarity with the rules, counselor.

[UPDATE, December 17, 2020… a follow-up/parallel post, Serve EVERYTHING that’s required.]

This practice gives me a chance to work with some great translation providers.  I go back to them regularly because they not only provide quality work, but they’re also ethical in dealing with clients, and that means the world to me.  Not all providers are that way, but my people are rock solid.  As such, my people don’t mind when I say to a caller, “hey, you can keep your translation costs down by only serving what is required by venue rules.”  That matters to my clients (all lawyers & law firms) who need to serve abroad. 
Continue Reading Only serve what is REQUIRED.

Oh yaaah?

At least once a week, my office fields the question “what else do I need to serve under Hague?”– or some variation on that theme.

It’s a highly pertinent question because most litigators aren’t familiar with the Hague Service Convention and its various requirements; if they were, I wouldn’t have such a beautiful niche practice, so I truly cannot complain.  The question has a simple answer, but one that leads to complexities driven by geography. 
Continue Reading Keeping Translation Costs Down, Part Three

Native languages of extreme northern North America and Siberia have several different words for “snow”.  I went to Alaska on a cruise once, but I’m definitely not qualified to translate.

Hague Service Convention requests constitute 99% of my practice– that’s a literal statistic.*  Easily half of them are sent to countries that haven’t caved in to the pressure (good for them) and made English an official language.  As such, the lion’s share must be translated into German or Italian or French or Korean… you get the idea.  In most instances, my clients just have me take care of the whole shooting match, from soup to nuts.  Occasionally, though, a firm or solo lawyer has a relationship with somebody who purports to translate legal documents as a matter of course, so they prefer to handle the linguistic work themselves.  To be sure, we’re not a translation provider– we’re a law firm– so if you want to do your own thing, I don’t object.

But I do disclaim the heck out of it.Continue Reading Yeah, buddy, they do check translations.

Māori protest at Waitangi, 2006. Charlie Brewer, via Wikimedia Commons.

No original content here– just a reiteration of something I urge lawyers to always be cognizant of:  which language will govern a contract.  In Five Essential Things– Elaborated, Part 4: Choice of Language, I stressed the importance of choosing a contract’s operative language in the contract itself, and making sure that an accurate translation of that operative language makes the other side aware of its terms.  Horrific things result if lawyers miss the mark. 
Continue Reading Translation Remains Key… TO EVERYTHING