Using Documents in Foreign Languages as Evidence at Court

30. 9. 2016

Documents in other than Czech language which are to be used as a piece of evidence in Czech legal and administrative proceedings must be, generally, translated into Czech by a Czech certified translator, which, evidently, increases the costs connected to the participating parties. Such a translation is a logical and inevitable requirement as, in order to be able to pass an accurate judgement, the Court needs to comprehend the relevant documents absolutely and without a shadow of a doubt, or so that the other parties could express their opinion about the facts. With some documents, however, this requirement appears to be rather unreasonable especially if the meaning of the data contained is obvious.

A case like the above has recently been heard by the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic – a bank account statement in Italian was presented as a proof of payment of an owed purchase price. The question was, then, whether a Court may admit evidence in a form of a printed document in a foreign language even though the other party voiced their disagreement with such an action since they argued that they did not understand the language. The Supreme Court concluded that this may be the case provided the basic terminology on the document is comprehensible without major difficulties. The court must, nevertheless, secure a translation of the document in question of the other parties insist.

These principles may also be followed with other types of documents used as evidence, such as invoices the content of which is often apparent even without the necessity to have them translated.   

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