Evidence in foreign language: Is a (certified) translation required?

On regular basis Dutch courts have to deal with evidence in foreign languages. Therefore the question arises if the judge has to consider these evidence in his ruling, or not.

There are no rules in Dutch law regarding evidence in other languages than Dutch (except for the Frisian language).

However, in 2016 the Hoge Raad (the court with the highest level of jurisdiction in the Netherlands) decided the following:

  • A judge has to consider evidence which has been brought into the process duly, if one of the parties refers to this evidence, whilst neither the judge nor the opposite party need a translation to be able to evaluate the situation adequately;
  • In general a translation is not needed, if the evidence is in English, French or German. Nonetheless a judge can ask for translation of the evidence, if he or she thinks a translation is necessary to evaluate the case and this is in the interest of the opposite party;
  • Evidence in other languages than English, French or German need to be translated generally;
  • A translation is regarded as necessary or desirable, the party who refers to the evidence, needs to get the opportunity to introduce a translation into the process, unless this conflicts with the requirements of good process. The judge decides if an official translation is needed.

In sum, a judge cannot without further ado disregard evidence brought in the process, even if it is in another language.

Do you have further questions regarding this topic? Feel free to get in touch with our lawyers. Our lawyers are fluent in Dutch, English and German.

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