Strafbefehle must be translated – CJEU

Udo Vetter at lawblog reports that the CJEU held that a Strafbefehl must be translated if the defendant doesn’t speak German. Here’s the decision of October 12 2017.

Directive 2010/64 on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings (you can call up a bilingual version here too). The relevant bit is recital 30:

Safeguarding the fairness of the proceedings requires that essential documents, or at least the relevant passages of such documents, be translated for the benefit of suspected or accused persons in accordance with this Directive.

 

Zur Gewährleistung eines fairen Verfahrens ist es erforderlich, dass wesentliche Unterlagen oder zumindest die maßgeblichen Passagen solcher Unterlagen für die verdächtigen oder beschuldigten Personen gemäß dieser Richtlinie übersetzt werden.

A Dutch national, Frank Sleutjes, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and served the Strafbefehl (order of summary punishment) in German – only the details on how to appeal were translated. The Düren local court did not translate the order itself – normal practice nowadays. The European court finds that the Strafbefehl is an essential document.

I last discussed the subject here (the language of the court is German). We used to translate these all the time and presumably local courts will now be obliged to have them translated again.

There is not (yet) an English translation of the decision online, but there is an English translation of the Advocate General’s opinion. I see they translate Strafbefehl as penal order. I am not convinced by Tagessätze as daily penalties. More on the English perhaps later.

There is an amusing exchange in the comments on lawblog.

Bin mir nicht sicher wie ich das sehen soll.
Auf der einen Seite müssen die Leute den Text verstehen können, schon klar.
Auf der anderen Seite, woher weiß ich die Sprache die die Person spricht und wo nehme ich die Übersetzer her?
AFAIK gibt es etwa 7000 Sprachen weltweit. Und für die soll man nun immer Übersetzer vorhalten?
Klingt irgendwie nicht so gut durchdacht.

There’s a nice reference to the defendant (Beschuldiger) as “der Delinquent”.

‘Bonkers’ German law firm site

Roll on Friday has named Streck Mack Schwedhelm as the bonkers law firm of the day

Before putting pen to paper, get to know the recipients better. Each lawyer is allotted a space in which to recall “My path to Streck Mack Schwedhelm”. One partner reveals, “Excel is my passion“, but instead of therapy, “I looked for a law firm in which I could exercise this passion“. She found spreadsheet heaven at Streck Mack Schwedhelm. Another declares that the firm embodies “Enthusiasm/fantasy/commitment”, and in such a crucible is it any wonder that “tax law for me came to have a thrilling legal aura which didn’t let me go“.

The site is in German too.

As they’re tax lawyers, their logo is based on the tithe.

I can understand German lawyers wanting to jazz up their websites. The culture in which they are seen is rather formal. I have translated four different ones and the desire was always to keep the English formal too. After all, the website isn’t directed to a UK or US readership.

The photos are rather fascinating here. I can see what the photographer was trying to do. He often has blurred movement in the background instead of normal bokeh, the lawyers are painfully in focus and heavy shadows show how much lighting was used (a bit like Dougie Wallace shots).