The production of foreign language documents before the courts in Morocco

November 2021 – The translation into Arabic of documents initially drafted in foreign languages that litigants, particularly foreigners, wish to use as evidence before the Moroccan courts became optional following the adoption by the Representatives Chamber in Parliament of Article 14 of the draft law relating to the judicial organization in the Kingdom.

It is true that under the previous system, case law often lightened the obligation to translate all documents into Arabic.

For example, the Casablanca commerce Court of Appeal has always required Arabic for the briefs and pleadings (applications, submissions, etc.) but not for the evidential and supporting documents (invoices, contracts, etc.), which are often produced in a foreign language without an official translation.

Nevertheless, the courts had a free hand in this respect and litigants, especially foreigners, often spontaneously used sworn translators to avoid the judges retaining all or part of their documents or declaring the action inadmissible. The result was an increase in costs and a lengthening of the procedure.

This legislative reform thus makes it possible to unify judicial practices and reverses the principle that translation is no longer mandatory unless the judge agrees, unless the courts expressly request it.

Indeed, depending on the complexity of the issues, the court will always be able to request a translation.

Similarly, it is sometimes in the interest of the litigant to spontaneously translate essential documents into Arabic to enable the judge to adopt a clear decision, especially if the documents are complex and decisive for the proceedings.

Like all good reforms, this one is not a revolution but an evolution that goes in the direction of flexibility and an inclusive dialogue between litigants, especially foreigners, and the courts.

By Laurent Sablé and Mohamed Reda Deryany

Mohamed Reda Deryany