All binding legal documents relating to an Italian real estate transaction must be written in Italian, independently from the nationality of the parties. Italian legal writing is highly technical, ritualistic and often archaic due to the close links with Roman law. Ultimately it can appear to be obscure for people lacking a solid legal background in Italian law. All this is further complicated by the profound differences between legal systems, more specifically between the English/American system based on Common Law and the Italian one based on Civil Law. As a matter of fact there are juridical concepts in Roman Law that simply do not exist in Common Law and vice versa there are concepts bearing the same names in the two systems but having different meanings.
As a consequence an accurate understanding of the legal systems and the legal processes involved is essential for translators or interpreters involved in such important transactions.A deep knowledge of the specialist terminology is required as well as knowledge of the legal concepts implied. This is why a legal document should never be signed without the assistance of a bilingual qualified lawyer who can explain in English the full scope of your commitment.Many real estate agents use printed contracts with an English translation.Such translations are rarely faithful and can often mislead the buyer. It’s important to underline that in case of litigation the Italian version will always prevail.In the most crucial phase of the transaction, when signing the Deed of Sale in front of the Notary public, the Italian law requires the presence of an interpreter if the buyer is not fluent in Italian.
Our advice is to make sure that such interpreter is duly qualified not only under a strictly linguistic point of view, but also in terms of legal background. Another crucial aspect to bear in mind is the independence of the interpreter. This would exclude a bilingual real estate agent, an English speaking relative or friend of the seller or an Italian English teacher. Explaining to you the Deed or Sale that you are about to sign is a very delicate task and you want to make sure you are entrusting the right professional.
Please remember that the Italian version of the Deed will prevail so it’s essential an expert and independent explanation of the legal implications that are involved.Your independent legal adviser has the right qualifications to assist you throughout the real estate transaction and will always make sure you have a full understanding of the documents you are requested to sign and the legal consequences implied.