Translations are frequently required for various documentations for official use before public authorities, institutions and courts internally or abroad. It is a matter of public law of each country to determine when an "official" translation is required and what comprises the elements of such translations in order to be regarded as legally valid and accepted documents.

For purposes of complying with such requirements "certified" translations are provided in Cyprus. The only public available authority for providing certified translations is the Translations Section of the Press and Information Office, one of the departments of the Ministry of Interior.

Cyprus Courts have commented that the certified translations provided by the Press and Information Office to date are accepted as valid translations for official use, although criticism was also attracted on the ground that such translations do not satisfy the requirements set in various international instruments, such as the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958 (the "New York Convention") as the translations shall be accompanied by an affidavit of the person making the said translation in order to comply with such requirements.

Various countries have incorporated the services of sworn translators, that is to say professional translators with particular accreditations who are authorized by an assigned authority to translate and endorse documents.

The services of sworn translators are now to be inserted in Cyprus as well. Pursuant to its decision with number 84.579 dated 28/3/2018, the Council of Ministers passed a decision for the approval of the bill for the introduction of the services of sworn translators in Cyprus, as a means of decentralizing the provision of certified translation services from a sole public authority, that is to say the Press and Information Office.

To this end, the law for the Registration and Regulation of the Provisions of Sworn Translators in the Republic, Law 45(Ι)/2019 was passed and published on 27/3/2019. It is expected that the law will be enforced by the end of 2019. Among others the law provides that a Council for the Registration of Sworn Translators will be established under the auspices of the Press and Information Office, that will facilitate the registration of such professionals to the Registry of Sworn Translators, a copy of which will be published annually to the Official Gazette of the Republic and the website of the Press and Information Office. The law sets high standards for the professional background and moral standing of the persons that will be eligible for registration. Sworn translators shall provide their services under the requested oath or declaration given upon their registration and they will be subjected to the supervision and penalties of the Disciplinary Commission that shall be established for this purpose.

This is a particularly interesting development in line with the practice of various countries and the provisions of international instruments such as the aforesaid New York Convention which provides that for an arbitral award to be recognised and enforced in a member state, the party applying shall supply the court with a translation of the arbitral award and arbitration agreement in an official language of the country in which the award is relied upon, whereas such translation shall be certified by an official or sworn translator or by a diplomatic or consular agent (Article IV).

The said development is welcomed as it aims at addressing potential procedural and technical impediments and setting a higher standard for the provision of translation services in the said sector.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.