Dealing with Foreign Language Legal Documents.

Dealing with Foreign Language Legal Documents.

As an English Notary I am used to seeing documents written in French German and Spanish and I have some knowledge of those written languages.  Of course I also see documents written in all the languages of the world – Arabic, Chinese, Russian and no Notary could hope to read, or be be fluent in, all languages.

The Notarial profession has its practice rules and rule 9.3 says: “a Notary may not authenticate by means of a Notarial act a document drawn up in a language other than English unless he has satisfied himself as to its meaning but this does not prevent a Notary from authenticating the execution or signature of a document in any language.”

For a Notary presented with a document in English or in a language in which he is sufficiently able therefore, this is no problem.

Before the advent of the Internet this rule would have meant that an English Notary presented with [for example] a Russian language document which he could not read would need a professional translation of the document into English before being able to proceed.Sometimes such a translation will still be required but it is now very often possible to type the foreign language document or have it emailed from abroad as a “plain text” or “word” digital document. There are various translation engines on the internet which can then decode (with varying degrees of accuracy!) the foreign text into English.

This is an invaluable tool for a Notary and can save translators’ fees for his clients – Nine times of ten the document is being prepared for a client who is fluent in the language of the document anyway, but of course then the concern the Notary has is whether his client is explaining honestly and truly what is the meaning of the document.

Whilst a computer translation will not be grammatically accurate in English it will help enormously to indicate whether the document is a Power of Attorney or other proper legal document, or a document which should not be Notarised for whatever reason.