English equivalents for legal Arabic terms

English quivalent words in Legal Arabic Translation 

The writers of Arabic legal texts often follow a certain style of language when drafting a legal instrument. 

One of the key challenges that all Arabic legal translators face when translating an Arabic-language legal text into English is to find the right English equivalent of certain legal terminology. 

This is often the case when translating from Arabic to English: 

  • Terms and conditions 
  • Articles of association 
  • Text of legislation/law 
  • Regulations 
  • Employment contracts

Let’s take one of the key words used in Arabic legal texts “يجوز” – transliterated as Yajuuz – which is a very typical example, for illustration: 

لا يجوز عزل القضاة من مناصبهم إلا بعد ادانتهم في دعوى بموجب أحكام قانون السلطة القضائي. 

The word Yajuuz in Arabic means: possible, or can be done, or something like: it is ok to do. 

If we look at this sentence above, the word Yajuuz is used in the negative as it is preceded by la – which means no 

One way of translating this legal sentence would be:

It is not possible to remove the judges from their posts except after they were convicted in a suit under the provision of the judicial authority law.


Another way of translating it into English would be: 

The removal of judges from their posts can only be possible (or done) after they were convicted in a lawsuit under the provisions of the judicial authority law. 

There are other ways to translate this legal Arabic sentence along these lines. 

However, the question is: for a native English speaker who specialises in legal affairs, would that be the best rendition of the original Arabic text? 

In other words, would that translation sound natural to a British or American solicitor, lawyer or law expert? 

Choosing the right equivalent  

What a certain Arabic legal word means is something, choosing the best English equivalent for this word – bearing in the mind the exact context it is used in – is something else. 

That said and explained, the word Yajuuz in Arabic would be best translated into English as: “may”. 

For a native English speaker with legal background knowledge, the word “may” would sound exactly the same as the word “Yajuuz” in Arabic would sound for a native Arabic speaker. 

This specific illustrative example would be best translated into English as follows:

Judges may be dismissed only if they have been convicted in a legal action pursuant to the provisions of the judicial authority law. 

This translation shows that the best English match for the Arabic word is used and also exhibits far more formality befitting the legal context than the other two translations provided above for illustration purposes.

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