The role of legal interpreters in international trade disputes


Globalisation ensures that companies increasingly operate not only nationally but also internationally. Exporting and importing are important aspects of the Swiss business landscape, which has created an increased need for communication on an international level. Thanks to the support of interpreters, business transactions can also be concluded across formerly existing language barriers. However, trade relations between two companies do not always run smoothly. If proverbial misunderstandings or outright disputes arise, efficient and solution-oriented communication is all the more important.

Interpreting in disputes – ensuring understanding

Imagine that a dispute arises between you and your international business partner. In addition to the already resource-consuming and stressful conflict, the language barrier is certainly also a serious problem. There does not always have to be malicious intent behind business disputes between contractual partners. Sometimes it is a matter of simple misunderstandings that have arisen due to difficult communication or cultural differences and that can be clarified through conversation without major losses. However, even if you have been wronged, it is all the more important to be able to clarify your own position and represent your interests in a legally secure manner.

With the help of appropriately trained legal interpreters, you can resolve any commercial disputes in a fair and safe manner, should they arise, via one of the Swiss courts or an alternative dispute resolution method. In this blog, you will find out in which possible conflicts our interpreters can act for you, how they can support you and what requirements are demanded of interpreting in business conflicts at international level in order to ensure mutual understanding and respect for the rule of law in the complicated world of trade.

Interpreter requirements

Not only in disputes between Swiss companies and foreign contracting parties, but also in conflicts, especially in the area of trade and finance, the Swiss legal system is often involved with the use of court interpreters. For more information specifically on court interpreters, see our blog on international court interpreting in Switzerland.

To ensure efficient communication during negotiations, interpreters in trade disputes must not only have excellent language skills in both the source and target languages, but they must also have a comprehensive understanding of the technical vocabulary from economics and economic policy as well as the cultural customs of the business world in the countries involved. In addition, a high degree of concentration and resilience is required, because depending on the situation, interpreters may be required to provide simultaneous or consecutive interpreting over longer periods of time. They must also be able to behave diplomatically under stress and in a tense atmosphere, because in a conflictual situation such as a trade dispute, it is crucial to be solution-oriented, de-escalating and calm, and to be able to communicate and translate culturally conditioned differences appropriately. Impartial and unemotional behaviour, accuracy, precision and word choice are particularly important.

To be able to act in court, you need to be accredited as an official court interpreter and have a good deal of stamina as well as nerves of steel. You can find more information on this in the following blogs:

Fields of application for interpreters in commercial disputes

The fields of application for interpreters are multifaceted and demanding. In the following cases, among others, our accredited specialists have already successfully supported their clients in conflicts with international partners:

  • Breach of contract, which occurs when a party fails to fulfil its obligations under a legally binding agreement
  • Disagreements about payment terms, late payment or non-payment for goods and services
  • Intellectual property disputes relating to patents, trademarks, copyrights or trade secrets
  • Product liability, negligence or claims for defective products
  • Disagreements in the partnership or among shareholders about decision making, profit-sharing or the general direction of the company
  • Debt collection, e.g. pursuing unpaid debts or challenging the validity of claims

Competition law in relation to anti-competitive practices, unfair competition or breaches of competition law also falls under commercial dispute resolution. Likewise, questionable insurance claims, e.g. disputes with insurance providers about insurance coverage, policy interpretation or claims settlement are a possible field of application for our interpreters.

No matter what difficulty is burdening your international trade relations, with a competent accredited court interpreter at your side, a settlement of trade disputes in Switzerland can be reached safely and understandably for all parties involved. This makes the complex situation manageable and you can return to your business with peace of mind after a fair resolution of the conflict.

You have a dispute to settle, your counterparty speaks another language and you want to be sure that your statements during the negotiations are interpreted precisely, understandably and convincingly? Then don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to put you in touch with the right specialist.