Contracts (Spanish-Language)

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705-Attorney General


CONTRACTS: (Basic Rules)

  • If a salesperson or other business representative primarily negotiates with a Spanish-speaking consumer in Spanish, the consumer must be given a written Spanish-language translation of the contract, even if the consumer does not request it.
  • This rule applies to the following contracts: CC 1632
  • Credit sales contracts for goods and services of all kinds, including automobiles
  • Almost all loans or other extensions of credit for personal, family, or household purposes, except loans secured by real estate
  • Loans secured by real estate, if arranged by a real estate loan broker or made by a personal finance company
  • Contracts for renting, leasing, or subleasing apartments or other kinds of housing (including mobile homes), for longer than one month (Month-to-month and week-to-week rental contracts do not apply.)
  • Contracts for the payment of legal fees for services from lawyers

The rule does not apply to the following contracts: CC 1632

  • Home improvement contracts
  • Contracts involving a seller not engaged in a trade or business
  • Subsequent documents authorized or contemplated by the original Spanish-language document
  • Contracts in which the Spanish-speaking consumer has negotiated through his or her own interpreter

However, the last exception applies only if the consumer's interpreter:

  1. is able to speak fluently and read with full understanding both English and Spanish,
  1. is 18 years or older, and
  1. is not employed by or made available by the salesperson or business.

If the contract is for a loan from a bank, credit union, savings association, or other “supervised financial organization,” the law does not require the entire contract to be translated. Only the following information must be translated into Spanish and provided to the consumer.

  • The amount financed
  • The annual percentage rate
  • The amount and due dates of the payments
  • Other credit disclosures required by the Truth in Lending Act

  • The Spanish-language version of the contract must be given to the Spanish-speaking consumer before the contract is executed. It is unlawful to require the consumer to sign a purchase order or any other legally binding document before he or she receives the Spanish-language translation of that document.

  • At the same time and place where a consumer and a business negotiate in Spanish and enter into a contract, a Spanish-language notice of the consumer's rights must also be displayed. The notice must be displayed in a conspicuous place. It must state that a businessperson who negotiates in Spanish must provide a Spanish version of any contract given to the consumer.

  • If a business does not provide a Spanish-language contract when the law requires it, the consumer can cancel the contract. The consumer can cancel the contract even it it's been assigned to a financial institution. In this case, the consumer should ask the business with which he or she originally made the contract to return any money the consumer paid. If the consumer received any merchandise, it must be returned to the original business.

Before Signing a Contract: CC 1632

  • Read the contract carefully. Make sure you understand all of it. If you don't like what you see, don't sign.
  • If you don't understand the contract, take it home overnight. Don't rush into signing anything, especially if the salesperson insists that it be signed right away. Remember: You'll have to live with what you sign.
  • Discuss any important or complex contract with a close friend or attorney. Be sure that other businesses aren't offering a better deal.

If you don't like what the contract says, ask the business to cross out words you don't like and add words that you believe should be there. Don't be afraid to add terms if the matter is important to you. A merchant who really wants to close the deal may agree to your changes.

However, you should realize that many merchants will not change their contracts under any circumstances. Also, if the contract is preprinted on a form, it is usually offered to you on a "take it or leave it" basis. You are usually not permitted to change the contract. In those situations, you probably shouldn't enter into the contract.

  • If the salesperson has made oral promises that are not written in the contract, insist that they be written into the contract. It's okay if the inserted changes are handwritten. Don't do business with a company that won't put oral promises into writing.

How to Cancel a Contract: CC 1688 et seq.

  • Promptly notify the other party of your decision to cancel. Return or offer to return whatever you have received from the other party, on the condition that the other party returns what he or she received from you.
  • Give your cancellation notice in writing to the other party, and also give a copy to anyone else who is involved in the transaction. The cancellation notice might also describe other ways that you can cancel the contract.
  • If you purchased something from the other party, he or she usually must return your money within 10 days after receiving your cancellation notice. However, the contract may state another time period for the return of your money, which you'll usually have to abide by unless it's unreasonable.

Where to Go for Help:

  • Your local consumer affairs agency.
  • If you have a question about whether a contract you have signed or are thinking about signing is legally binding, it's best to talk with an attorney. Contact your local legal aid society or a private attorney.

Guide to Abbreviation:

CC = Civil Code

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