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We previously explored the issue of who should pay for legal translation services in November of 2011, when the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held in Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan LTD. 633 F.3d 1218 (9th Cir. 2011) that the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding legal translation costs to Kan Pacific, including document translation costs (from Japanese to English) as well as interpretation costs. The Court of Appeals interpreted 28 U.S.C. §1920(6) (which grants courts discretion to award costs for the compensation of interpreters) to include document translation as part of the costs to be awarded at the conclusion of litigation.
At most law firms, when a document translation is needed, the usual course of action is to request estimates from several translation companies and pick the cheapest one. This is not unreasonable. Clients are more cost-conscious than ever, and less likely to obtain a legal translation that comes with a hefty price tag. Unfortunately, the cost of fixing a poor translation is much higher than obtaining an accurate translation to begin with, not to mention spillover costs in embarrassment or even potential damage to your case.
The costs of legal translation incurred during litigation can be enormous. Document translation fees for a complex, cross-border litigation case can easily reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. Who should pay for translation services, and should the winner be reimbursed for the huge expense? The Supreme Court will weigh in on this…