Since I wrote on this topic, at least two weblogs have taken it up, and there are comments on the entries. And last week there was an article in Die Zeit.
First, law blog had an entry, Englisch soll deutsche Gerichtssprache werden. One of the commenters wonders whether he is entitled to an interpreter if he wants to watch the proceedings.
Frage: Ich würde gern mal einer in englischer Sprache geführten Gerichtsverhandlung als Zuhörer beiwohnen, um im Rahmen der Öffentlichkeit der Sitzung deren Qualität nachzuvollziehen. Habe ich jetzt einen Anspruch auf Beiordnung eines Dolmetschers, der mir den Verlauf der Verhandlung ins Deutsche übersetzt? Oder muss ich als Zuhörer den Dolmetscher selbst bezahlen? Gelten vielleicht PKH-Grundsätze? Wie steht es mit dem gesetzlichen Richter, wenn für bestimmte Verhandlungsarten nur noch ein sprachlich ausgebildeter Richter in Betracht kommt? Habe ich als Richter vielleicht einen Anspruch auf LLM-Fortbildung, um nicht als Depp dazustehen?…
When I commented there myself, it occurred to me that I suspect two German lawyers and three German judges discussing German law in English are understanding each other despite the language.
And in German Joys, Andrew Hammel had an entry English in German Courtrooms.
Anotherone also had an entry.
Die Zeit has an article on this topic, by Pierre-Christian Fink.
Some points from that article:
BASF is mentioned as a company that conducts a lot of litigation abroad.
A lawyer for another company says the reform would save costs and avoid the common arguments about translation errors. (I have my doubts about this. I certainly think that interpreters, even qualified and court-certified interpreters, often make mistakes, but on the basis of the single case in Bonn, mistakes were not avoided. On the other hand, there were no native speakers of English involved in that case, so maybe it was atypical).
The discussion is about far more than language. It’s about which legal system will establish itself internationally.
I’ve commented before on the Bündnis für das deutsche Recht (Alliance for German law).
I don’t think I ever traced the English document to which it was a reaction – till now. This is mentioned in Die Zeit as ‘England und Wales – das Rechtssystem erster Wahl’ – it was in fact England and Wales: The jurisdiction of choice, published by the Law Society and sponsored by Herbert Smith, Norton Rose and Eversheds. And here is a PDF of it. Incidentally, one point in it is that nothing stops English courts from deciding on German law, which rather removes the argument that for German law to succeed, German courts have to try cases in English:
Cross-border disputes can be tried in English courts whatever the governing law
Parties may agree to select England and Wales as the jurisdiction in which to resolve their dispute whatever the law governing their dispute. The English High Court is experienced in hearing evidence of foreign law and deciding issues in accordance with that law.
Back to Die Zeit. A lawyer is quoted to the effect that a case in the USA that has taken ten weeks and is not over would have been finished in two days in Germany, because of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(Via Richard Schneider)
The draft legislationon introducing English states plainly that there will be financial advantages. This will profit German lawyers too.
Klaus Tolksdorf, President of the Federal Court or Justice, warns against euphoria: will this be the end or the beginning of linguistic confusion in German courts?
Finally, how many German statutes have been translated into English? The Ministry of Justice had no idea. Jan Scharlau of the Centre for German Legal Information (linked in my sidebar and the best place to start looking for English translations) points out that only very few statutes are available in really good English translations. Most of them are either translated in a slovenly manner or not translated at all.