Demystifying the Definition of “Certified Translation”
Have you been asked to provide a “certified translation?”
If so, there are many translation agencies which will sell you the service, usually for an inflated fee for the “certification.” But is this worth what they are charging?
The answer is, almost always, no.
The translation industry has virtually no regulation. There are various associations such as the ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting) which seek to represent translators, though in reality, they only represent those who are willing to pay their annual membership fees, some of which can be very expensive.
Due to the lack of regulation, there are various companies which will make bold claims without any substance, safe in the knowledge that they will likely get away with it. Certified and notarised translations are an excellent example.
Usually, the consumer will receive a translation (the quality of which may be terrible) which has been stamped, possibly with the emblem of an organisation few will have heard of. The hope is that, whoever has requested the translation be certified is duped into believing that the stamp authenticates the work as accurate to a high standard. The truth is that the stamp means very little because the translator has usually not been vetted before receiving it. There are many occasions when these translations are simply rejected for invalid certification.
The English Courts have a strict procedure for certification. If a witness cannot speak English, he or she must provide a statement in their native language and that statement must be certified by an individual who is able to administer oaths and take affidavits. The only people allowed to do so under the Civil Procedure Rules are listed at https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part32/pd_part32#9.1. I am able to do so because as a solicitor of England & Wales, I am also a commissioner for oaths.
As a lawyer who deals with witnesses who are speakers of English as a second language, I often come across statements with translations certified by individuals who are not able to administer oaths. In these cases, I apply to Court to strike out the evidence of that particular individual.
Of course, not all public authorities are as strict as the Court, but it is prudent to ensure that your translation is certified to the highest standards in order to avoid rejection for invalid certification.
Lawyers, as representatives of the legal system, are required to act with the highest degree of integrity. They are regulated more stringently than anyone else in society. For that reason, it is almost always advisable to have a translation certified by a lawyer.
As a fluent Japanese speaker, I am able to translate and translate Japanese documents. As a practising English lawyer, I am able to certify translations to the standards required by any government or judicial authority.