Abstract: This paper focuses on the translation into French and Romanian of common law contracts. In the preamble, we emphasize that legal translation is not a mere exercise of equivalence of terms, but requires the translator to “carry” the features of a legal system into another legal system. We propose an analysis of translation difficulties specific to English contracts, starting with a terminological approach. Some terminological difficulties are represented by the high level of technicality of the text, polysemy, and culture-bound terms. We then adopt a discursive and stylistic approach. The style based on which English contracts are drafted contains two components: the micro-textual level (use of capital letters, modal verbs, compound terms, specific phrases and idioms) and the macro-textual level (redundancy, tautologies, syntax, tendency to be exhaustive). The paper also includes a case study: the translation of titles of several standard clauses specific to English contracts. Translating common law contracts is an interpretative and stylistic exercise.
Keywords: common law, Romano-Germanic law, legal translation, contract, culture-bound legal terms, standard clauses