Can a Certified German Translator be Sued for Inaccuracy?

Certified German Translator

As a certified German translator in legal translations, you will most likely at some time or another had to do some rather delicate work to a clear deadline. Sometimes when a professional German translator completes a job it’s not always 100 percent correct for some reason or another. If this damages the client in any way that can be proven, the translator may be held accountable under either contract law or civil liability law.

Civil liability law is in force to protect people from harm done by someone else. Therefore the certified German translator is breaking the law if the translation product sent onto the client is not accurate and this harms the client in some way.

If a contract has been drawn up between the translator and a client, the client is permitted to sue the professional German translator if an error in a translated document has caused any harm. If there was no contractual agreement civil liability law covers the client. Contract law requires that if a translator and a client draw up a translation contract that is legally binding and the translator fails to comply according to the contract’s terms and conditions, demanding compensation is a right that the client has if damages have been suffered because of failure to adhere to the contract.

Providing proof for a damages claim

If the translation error inflicted considerable loss on the client, he or she will have to prove the translator was negligent. This is based on:

  • the translator had the obligation to provide the client with an accurate translation as he or she was hired to do so.
  • the translator failed to match the obligation which is expected of his/ her profession as a certified German translator.
  • it was the error in the translation that caused direct harm to the client.

The trouble with many translator/ client contracts is that the details of the contract are lacking, with most of them just stating the cost and delivery date. Few include the margin of error tolerated in a translation. This makes it less easy for either party to know what to expect from a translation even though from the point of view of a client the expectation when hiring a professional German translator is that there will be no errors in the final translation.