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Discovery in foreign languages leaves legal system tongue-tied

September 2, 2008

Discovery in foreign languages leaves legal system tongue-tied

Daily Report, August 25, 2008

While some of us non-computer wizzes think technology talk occurs in a foreign language, what happens when it literally is? Legal experts are finding themselves dealing with a rising amount of foreign language documents, all of which need to be authenticated and brought into litigation just the same as English written ones. With the amount of work that U.S. businesses do overseas, it’s not surprising to see this issue emerge. After all, these types of companies, regardless of where the document is created, modified or retrieved, must adhere to litigation standards set in place by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP).

However, as this article points out, the written/spoken language isn’t the only problem legal experts are dealing with. “Computer language” creates issues all its own.

“Until recently, most digital documents used the American Standard Code for Information Interchange for text. In ASCII, characters were made up of a byte of information, which allowed for 128 different letters, characters and punctuation. That system was barely sufficient for English, less than ideal for languages with special characters like Russian and Hebrew and wholly inadequate for Asian languages.”

If you currently do business overseas or are in the planning stages of doing so, keep in mind the legal barriers that you’ll likely face. From coast to coast, you’re bound to run into international discrepancies but don’t let that get you down – after all, you’re on of many. Simply plan ahead and with the help of legal experts, try to anticipate where the problems will occur.

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