An indispensable element of contemporary reality is that increasingly more people travel abroad for tourist, business and family purposes. Also in Poland a number of foreigners who decided to stay here, temporarily or permanently, is constantly growing. Sooner or later, these people will participate in national legal transactions as foreign investors, entrepreneurs pursuing business activity, spouses of citizens of the Republic of Poland or employees looking for real estate for rental or purchase. Regardless of the nature, time and circumstances of their stay in Poland, foreigners often use professional legal services, including the services of notarial offices. In this situation the assistance of a sworn translator and interpreter of the English language is frequently necessary (and desirable) as it allows for efficient and precise communication between a lawyer and a party of a legal transaction in need of sworn translation services.
What is a notarised document? Who is a notary public? What is a notarial deed?
Many people ask themselves what is notarisation of a document. Notarisation is the act of attesting a document by a notary public. Thus, the authenticity of the content of a document and signatures affixed thereto are verified. A document which was subject to notarisation is referred to as a notarised document.
A notary public is a licensed public official who plays the role of an impartial witness during signing of important documents (e.g. agreements, last wills, marital settlement agreements, documents requiring entry into a land and mortgage register and all types of documents which must be notarised under applicable provisions of law).
A notarial deed is a name given to an official document drawn up by a notary public, confirming that a notarial activity took place, in which statements, agreements etc. are legally recorded.
Difference between sworn translation and notarised translation
A sworn (certified) translation/interpreting is a type of translation the content of which is confirmed by a signature and seal of a sworn translator/interpreter. In order to become a sworn translator in Poland, a candidate must pass an official state examination. Afterwards, a translator is entered on the List of Sworn Translators and Interpreters kept by the Ministry of Justice and may provide clients with sworn Polish to English and English to Polish translation and interpreting services.
A notarised translation, or notarised interpreting, is a special type of service which is overseen by a notary public as a witness. Since a notary public might not be multilingual, he or she will be unable to check the accuracy of interpreted document. A signature of a notary public simply certifies that a sworn translator (interpreter) swore that the translation (interpreting) is accurate.
Official translation of a notarial deed – legal requirements
Pursuant to Art. 2 § 3 of the Notary Public Law of 14th February 1991 (Journal of Laws of 1991, No. 22, item 91 as amended) “Notarial activities are performed in the Polish language. Upon request of a party, a notary public may additionally perform this activity in a foreign language, using own knowledge of a foreign language indicated in a manner provided for sworn translators and interpreters, or using assistance of a sworn translator or interpreter.” Thus, there is a possibility of interpreting by a notary public (providing that a notary public obtained qualifications of a sworn translator (interpreter) of a given foreign language and that professional self-government gave consent for such additional occupation – see: judgment of Supreme Administrative Court of 14th April 2016 (case no. II GSK 2604/14)) – which in practice happens rarely. As it is not easy to come across a foreigner who speaks Polish fluently (in particular, as regards specialist legal language) – and only such knowledge relieves a foreigner from the obligation to use professional assistance of an interpreter (translator) entered into the List of Sworn Translators and Interpreters kept by the Ministry of Justice – presence of a sworn interpreter ensuring specialist translation of notarial activities proves indispensable. It is not only a question of satisfying formal requirements of the Polish law but also of securing legal transaction of both parties, since participation of a sworn interpreter in a notarial activity and interpreting of a notarial deed guarantees its efficiency and validity. Otherwise, it would be easy to consider notarial activities conducted without participation of a sworn interpreter invalid. This, in turn, could result in the occurrence of far-reaching legal consequences for both parties to a notarial activity and for the notary public. It is also crucial that the client must ensure assistance of a sworn interpreter by himself/herself. A notary public is not included in a group of authorities entitled to summon a sworn translator listed in the Act on the Profession of a Sworn Translator. It is worth booking sworn translation services for selected date with sufficient advance to avoid complications and additional costs connected with searching for a supplier of sworn translation or interpreting at the last minute.
Can a sworn interpreter of the English language interpret only for clients for whom English is a native language?
The already mentioned requirement of fluent command of the Polish language by a foreigner does not imply a necessity to use sworn translation services only in a foreigner’s native language. Quite the contrary! In order for a notarial activity with participation of a foreigner to be valid and effective, it is sufficient to interpret a notarial activity by a sworn interpreter of a foreign language known to a foreigner to the extent allowing for full comprehension of the meaning and the content of a notarial activity. In practice, this means that a sworn interpreter of the English language frequently interprets notarial activities with participation of citizens of non-English speaking countries, who speak English fluently, which considering international nature of this language is not a rare phenomenon. Availability of interpreters of less popular languages is also important because it is frequently a factor determining why a client selects services of a sworn interpreter of the English language as a cheaper and relatively easily available service provider on the market of sworn translation services. However, such decision must be taken responsibly as participation of a sworn interpreter of the English language which is not a native tongue of a party to a notarial activity is based on a statement constituting that such person knows English fluently, both in speech and writing. This entails a risk that a notary public may refuse to sign a notarial deed, if during a notarial activity it becomes evident that a foreigner does not know English on a declared level.
The role of a sworn interpreter during interpreting at a notarial office
As a person performing the profession of public trust, a sworn interpreter/translator (similarly to a notary public) is not a representative of any party to a notarial activity and is obliged to be impartial. This means that a sworn interpreter is responsible for the content and quality of interpreting and none of the parties can influence the content of interpreting or suggest omitting certain fragments of text, demand selective interpreting or insist on speeding up interpreting at the cost of quality or completeness of interpreting. It is noteworthy that notarial activities made with participation of a sworn interpreter always take more time. Therefore, time requirements must be considered in a client’s daily schedule. Naturally, the gravity of notarial activities requires precise and faithful interpreting of all aspects since all circumstances excluding full comprehension of interpreting by a foreigner could become a basis to evade consequences of such legal action and consequently deem it invalid. Therefore, it is of vital importance for a foreigner being a party to a notarial activity to fully comprehend the content and significance connected with the notarial activity before such activity becomes legally binding.
Practical aspects of sworn translation and interpreting during notarial activities
When it comes to practical elements of work of a sworn translator/interpreter of the English language, the most important thing to remember is thorough substantive preparation to all notarial activities. Needless to say, an interpreter must request information regarding given legal act being the subject of interpreting, and if possible, obtain a draft of a notarial deed in advance. A sworn interpreter must regularly expand knowledge of specialist legal terminology in order to provide faithful and precise explanation of specific institutions of the Polish law which not always have their equivalents in institutions of Anglo-Saxon law (common law). Furthermore, good knowledge of both, terminology and legal institutions allows an experienced sworn interpreter to explain their content in English even when they lack corresponding foreign names in legal culture of other countries. Clients appreciate not only knowledge of professional legal terminology, but also ability to clarify the meaning of specific legal solutions in practice – as an English-speaking client does not necessarily have to be familiar with a legal system of Anglo-Saxon countries, not to mentioned specific solutions functioning in the Polish legislation.
During notarial activities, the first thing to do is ensuring high communication comfort between a sworn interpreter and a foreigner using the English language. For this reason, a sworn interpreter stands or sits next to the client, allowing for listening to interpreting comfortably, asking questions, or checking the correctness of own personal data given in the recitals of a notarial deed. The situation connected with coronavirus pandemic slightly hindered communication, imposing an obligation to maintain social distance and wear masks also in notarial offices.
A notarial deed is interpreted a vista – the content of a notarial deed written in the Polish language is interpreted into the English language by a sworn interpreter. Depending on a practice applied by certain notarial office, a notarial deed is interpreted sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph or in entirety, first by a notary public and subsequently, by a sworn interpreter. Apart from that, a sworn interpreter interprets also questions asked by a client and explanations given by a lawyer, usually via liaison interpreting (sentence by sentence), less frequently as consecutive interpreting (the speaker is giving a speech whilst the interpreter takes notes. Afterwards, the interpreter reproduces the speech in a foreign language). Sometimes parties participating in an activity agree on its conditions (which sometimes takes the form of more or less elaborate negotiations or arrangements) and ask for making certain modifications and the role of a sworn interpreter is ensuring faithful and efficient communication between such parties and a notary public. In some situations, despite interpreting the content of a notarial deed and conversations, one of the parties resigns from conclusion of a planned agreement and a notarial activity is not finalized. An experienced sworn interpreter of the English language should also remember about such possibilities while planning his/her working day and determine availability hours with a client in advance. However, in vast majority of cases, planned activity is concluded. After explaining all doubts and objections, the parties confirm with their autograph signatures affixed on the original of a notarial deed. By signing a document, a foreigner confirms that he/she read its content with participation of a sworn interpreter. A sworn interpreter who produced interpreting is listed in the recitals of a notarial deed (with provision of the interpreter’s name, surname and number of entry into the List of Sworn Translators and Interpreters). Also the fact of interpreting is confirmed by a sworn interpreter with the interpreter’s signature.
Examples of notarial activities requiring presence of a sworn interpreter of the English language
Notarial activities requiring interpreting made by a sworn interpreter most frequently include legal acts such as:
– real estate sale and purchase agreement,
– developer agreement,
– power of attorney,
– statement on submission to enforcement proceedings,
– minutes from a meeting of shareholders,
– company’s articles of association and amendments thereto,
– agreement on transfer of ownership of shares in a company,
– marital property agreement,
– donation agreement,
and many other types of documents. The fact of interpreting made by a sworn interpreter is not equivalent to obtaining a written translation. Such a sworn translation into English is a subject of separate order.
Professional interpreter and translator of the English language in Wrocław
The Office of the Sworn Translator and Interpreter of the English Language, Jacek Kasprzyk provides professional Polish/ English and English /Polish translation and interpreting services during notarial activities. Interpreting and translation services are provided by a sworn translator and interpreter of the English language having Master of Arts in English Philology and Master of Laws. High professional qualifications, many years of experience and constantly increasing group of satisfied and returning clients is the best advertisement of services offered by the Office in Wrocław and the Province of Lower Silesia. The Office provides Polish to English translation and interpreting services also during COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with applicable sanitary safety measures. If you need official document translation or interpreting services in the scope of the English language, e.g. during notarial activities, contact us immediately.
Jacek Kasprzyk, Sworn Translator and Interpreter of the English Language in Wrocław