Under the labor law it states that all contracts should be drafted in Arabic with such version taking precedent over any translated version. Further, all pleadings before the court should be made in the Arabic language, which also should be used in writing all relevant memorandum. While legally all documents must be drafted in Arabic, it does not prohibit the Kuwaiti courts or other government authorities from legally recognizing non-Arabic documents.
With English being the “unofficial” business language of the globe, individuals and companies are compelled to use English when parties of interests have different native tongues. Some companies have encountered not closing deals because the negotiating parties can’t communicate due to a language barrier. Instead of failing to close a deal with non-Arabic speakers, enter into an English agreement or English-Arabic bilingual agreement with ease knowing the appropriate government authorities and Kuwaiti courts will acknowledge your documents.
Moreover, parties with bargaining power should not coerce other non-Arabic speaking parties to sign Arabic only documents, without having the document properly translated for them because under some circumstances it means the party did not enter the agreement with the prerequisite knowledge and consent for such agreement to be held as legally binding.
If parties are only able to enter into an English only contract, then make sure to contact the appropriate authority in advance to obtain the list of requirements for your translated documents to be accepted.
For example, when submitting documents to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry they usually require the official translated documents to be stamped by the Ministry of Justice. While the Kuwaiti courts accept the translated documents without stamps from the Ministry of Justice. Also, the translation services should be performed by an approved translator that is specified on a list provided by the Ministry of Justice. There are also other authentication requirements for documents originating from outside of Kuwait and/or signed by a party outside of Kuwait.
Lastly, when obtaining a translated version of any document, you want to have a bilingual attorney and/or team review both versions to make sure the intent of the parties are captured in both languages. Many translation companies do not have the legal knowledge to use legal terms where a legal professional see fit.
Rest assured that your non-Arabic documents are still binding and acceptable in Kuwait so long as you satisfy all of the appropriate translation and authentication processes.
By Najmah Mateese Brown, Esq