If you are negotiating a business contract with a party who speaks a foreign language, you will get to a point where you will have to decide whether the final contract should be written in English, in the other party`s mother tongue, or in both. If you decide to design the contract in several languages, you must make a language an “official” language. One of the first things to evaluate in transactions with foreign parties is whether the agreement should be in English, in the foreign language, or in both. U.S. companies doing business abroad need English as the official language for the contract. But English is not always the best choice. For example, if our goal is to have a possible dispute resolution in a jurisdiction or arbitral tribunal where arbitrators do not conduct trials in English, the choice of the contractual language will undoubtedly be the other language, not English. This article examines the design and negotiation of contracts in several languages, mainly from the point of view of Spanish-speaking countries. It involves an awareness of intercultural and linguistic differences and examines the suitability of a bilingual contract model. It does not contain legal advice or offer a “right answer” for all purposes, as each must be decided on a case-by-case basis. If the parties to an international treaty use different languages, a language clause should be included in the treaty. Even if the parties are the only language to use a particular language, there must be a clause that determines the official version of the document. The reason for this is simple: if you expect to appear before a Chinese (or foreign) court, the staff of that court will not speak English.
You will not read English. Even if they read English, the Rules of Procedure of the General Court require that documents be translated into the national language. If you have already found that the party with whom you are contracting has no assets outside their own country and that facilitation before a court proceeding is faster than arbitration, why would you ever want to have an English-language contract that disrupts these foreign proceedings? The only language that the foreign court will deal with is his own, and contracts that are in several languages will confuse the problem. A single contract in a single language (the own jurisdiction it sees and imposes every day) makes the procedure faster, cheaper and simpler – three words that make customers very happy. First, in the event of a conflict between the two languages, it is important to think about the priority. . . .