An excellent short article has just been published in The Linguist, entitled “The law of Japan”, written by Gwen Clayton and looking at “the perks and pitfalls of translating Japanese legal documents into English.
I particularly appreciated these points:
- regarding layout, [ensure] that clause 2.3 at the top of page 7 of the translation says exactly the same as clause 2.3 at the top of page 7 of the Japanese version
- use company [parties’] websites to help find information
- find out in advance whether clients prefer plain English or Latin terms
- leave plenty of time for research
- be assertive in your questions to the client
- and detailed in your notes and explanations.
In addition, at the end of the article Ms Clayton provides a very useful list of resources on Japanese legal translation.
Gwen Clayton is a freelance translator working from Japanese and German into English. After studying Japanese at Oxford, she went on to study law and qualified as a solicitor in 2000. She has worked as a lawyer in London, Tokyo, Bristol and Zurich and continues to practice law in parallel with translation. She specialises in general commercial law.
The full article can be accessed here, pages 16-17 (on my computer it only works using Firefox).
See also this 2013 post on a webinar on Translating Japanese Contracts featuring Gwen Clayton. The on-demand version of the webinar can be found here.