New Secretary of State for Justice

The new Lord Chancellor is Michael Gove. Jack of Kent has a good post with mug shot: A new Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor.

As he writes, we will have to wait and see. He can’t really be any worse than the last one, can he?

But Grayling made things needlessly worse. His grand design for reforming criminal legal aid was unrealistic and botched, and the consultation had to start from scratch. Again and again the High Court found the Ministry of Justice to be acting unlawfully which, if you think of it, is a rather odd thing to happen to this particular department. Scarce departmental resources were used to promote a Bill – an extended press release dubbed the “SARAH Act” – which actually made no change whatsoever to the law of the land. And his personal stubbornness ended up with his spending £72,000 of taxpayers’ money to defend a prison books restriction which the bemused judge regarded as “strange” before quashing it.

It appears that the Human Rights Act is to be repealed pronto. For many myths on human rights and other information, see Adam Wagner’s new site Rights Info. I see that the Daily Mirror says you can live in another EU country if you want to enjoy human rights – thus overlooking the fact that the Council of Europe has 46 members and the EU 28 and that the rights haven’t actually been scrapped, just made harder to get: 13 basic rights you’re going to lose under the new Conservative government

But don’t worry, if you want to keep your absolute human rights, you can still move to the EU.

Or you can stay here and hope for the best.

I’m not sure how to move to the EU.

The Human Rights Act cannot be so easily repealed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There’s a useful post on this in the nicely named blog Lallands Peat Worrier:

Thus far, the Tories have had bugger all to say about the detailed devolved implications of their abolition plan — but they are politically explosive. Thus far, by focussing on the court politics of tactics and slogans, the media have singularly failed to take Conservative ministers to task on their woolly human rights thinking. Like Cameron’s pledge to “renegotiate” the European Union treaties without any real or realisable demands, abolition of the Human Rights Act is a slogan — not a worked out policy.

In other election news, Ronnie Carroll won 113 votes despite having represented Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest and being recently deceased.

From other corners of the internet

1. Per Döhler’s indispensable guide to VAT for translators in Germany has been updated. Umsatzsteuerleitfaden at – click on Mehr, Dokumente – first in the list. The Triacom website has been updated too.

2. reports on the publication of Handbook of Terminology (John Benjamins), online and in print. I’m not sure what it costs and I haven’t got time to read it, but I am interested in the article by Janine Pimentel, who studied in Portugal and teachers in Brazil: ‘Using frame semantics to build a bilingual lexical resource on legal terminology‘. I haven’t got into this any further, but Janine Pimentel’s website has more information, including a link to a Portuguese-English database using semantic frameworks:

The JuriDiCo is a database that describes the legal terminology that can be found in a comparable corpus of judgments produced by the Supreme Court of Canada and by Supremo Tribunal de Justiça de Portugal. The database was elaborated according to the theoretical and methodological principles of FrameNet (Ruppenhofer et al. 2010) and is also partly based on the methodology for compiling specialized dictionaries developed in DiCoInfo (L’Homme 2008). Some minor modifications were made in the DiCoInfo’s database, namely the insertion of a field called frames. For thetime being, JuriDiCo only includes specialized verbs, which were extracted by means of TermoStat (Drouin 2003) and subsequently validated. 200 English and Portuguese terms entries are currently available online as well as about 40 frames that group together not only equivalent terms but also semantically related terms within each language. JuriDiCo allows users to search terms, equivalent terms and frames.

Via the website of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and, some of her publications can be accessed (log in with Facebook or Google). I don’t know my linguistics so I haven’t read about semantic frames before, but in Juridico they seem to be contexts. If you read the articles you will know more than I do.

3. Carl Gardner has published, for Kindle, What a Fix-Up!. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (the ‘-term’ in the Act seems not to be capitaliized). As he writes, ‘the prospect of a hung Parliament after the 2015 general election has dramatically raised the Act’s profile’.

Listening to Carl Gardner and other lawyers on podcasts was one of the great innovations of internet communication for me – to hear serious yet chatty discussions of UK law and politics. There are links to many Without Prejudice podcasts on Carl Gardner’s blog Head of Legal.

4. Unreliable Evidence – BBC radio programmes with Clive Anderson.

Translators and copyright


Translation and intellectual property rights is a brochure/PDF prepared for the EU by Bird and Bird LLP. It is only available in English (a bit Franglish).

The brochure considers the law in the EU and in a number of countries (Belgium, France, Germany and the UK). It considers it both from an upstream point of view (is the original text subject to copyright?) and a downstream one (is the translation subject to copyright?).

Whether one’s translation might be copyright is one of those topics that translators’ mailing lists get heated about every year or so.

Copyright usually attaches to literary and artistic works. But what about other types? For example, are statutes copyrighted? One hopes not. They should be freely distributed. Thus it’s interesting that the EU does not exclude EU publications from copyright, but at the same time the Commission’s policy is to increase their use:

In this respect, the status of European Union publications is not very clearly regulated. On the one hand, there is no legal provision at the European Union level, as it is the case under national laws, which stipulates that legal texts such as Regulations or Directives fall within a category of works are deprived of copyright protection. The “Legal notices and copyright” contained within the “Information Provider’s Guide”40 and the section related to copyright in the Interinstitutionnal style guide”41 (these two documents emanate from the European Union institutions) both tend to go in the opposite direction: they provide for that the European Union owns a copyright on all official publications of the Union institutions or bodies. It does therefore not seem that the official texts of the European Union are legally excluded from copyright protection. That being said, the reuse policy of the European Commission42 aims at increasing the use and the spread of the European Union information, also to foster innovation. Hence we believe that the official texts of the European Union fall under that policy and should be easily and freely reused despite their possible copyright protection, in accordance with the provisions laid down under Decision 2011/833/EU, hence, among other things, under reservation of the
exclusive rights of third parties.

There is a comparison of how the four countries treat works created by an employee in the course of employment.
Exceptions to copyright, e.g. for educational use, are discussed, and this is also related to the problem of machine-aided translation (where your database might contain elements from copyright works). The law as it stands would appear not to protect machine (-aided) translation, and the authors would welcome ‘full compulsory harmonization’.
Another aspect considered is how various legal systems treat translations carried out without the original author’s consent.

I was particularly interested in the protection of official translations of official texts.

It derives from the situation created by the Berne Convention that a distinction must be made in most Member States between the following three types of works: (i) official texts/acts; (ii) official translations of official texts/acts; and (iii) non-official translations of official texts/acts. For the first two categories the regime is rather straightforward: no copyright protection. …The situation is more complex with respect to non-official translations of official texts/acts. Scholars consider that the wording of article 2(4) in fine indicates a contrario that a contracting party of the Berne Convention “cannot deny protection to non-official translations of these texts – presumably translations made by private publishers”.

(Is in fine a French Latinism for the German am Ende? haven’t seen it in English before).

There is more, of course, including information on database rights and recommendations for contracts with translators – I have just skimmed the 146 pages. There’s a bibliography and case references too. Recommended.

Getting through to HMRC on the phone

HMRC: Welcome to HM Revenue and Customs. To direct your call to the right place, I’d like to know why you’re calling today. So tell me, in a few words, what’s the reason for your call?
ME: A general VAT enquiry
HMRC: A VAT enquiry – is that right? Yes or no.
Me: Yes.
HMRC: And what is about VAT you’re calling about? You can say things like ‘I want to import a car’, or ‘Why have I received a VAT surcharge notice?’, or even ‘I’ve lost my password for online VAT.’ So go ahead – in a few words, what’s the reason for your call?
Me: I want to know how to charge VAT to the City of XYZ [it has no VAT number].
HMRC: About your payment options, is that right? Yes or no.
Me: No.
HMRC: Sorry, you can say things like ‘I want to import a car’, or ‘Why have I received a VAT surcharge notice?’, or even ‘I’ve lost my password for online VAT.’ So go ahead, tell me, what’s the reason for your call?
Me: How to charge VAT to a customer in Germany.
HMRC: A question about charging VAT outside of the UK – is that right? Yes or no.
Me: Yes.
HMRC: OK. And are you calling as the VAT-registered customer, an agent, an employee of a VAT-registered business, or something else?
Me: The VAT-registered customer. [their computer never understands this although they just offered it as an option]
HMRC: Sorry, which of the following are you calling as? Say: customer, agent, employee, or something else.
Me: Customer.
HMRC: Thank you. You can find lots of useful information about the VAT implications on both the importing and exporting of goods and services within the EU and beyond, as well as information on reclaiming VAT from other EU countries on our website, Now, if you would still like to speak to one of our advisers, please hold on a moment and I’ll transfer you. By the way, for quality and security this call might be recorded. [music]

The computer woman’s voice is exaggeratedly helpful and friendly.

The real person I eventually get through to is very helpful, but I have been known to swear during the above dialogue and to be bad-tempered afterwards.

The importance of learning German

It seems we in Britain still expect important events to be conducted in English. Thus the experience of the Telegraph’s ‘live blogger’ Ben Bloom yesterday:

Jürgen Klopp to quite Borussia Dortmund on July 1 – as it happened


And with that I bid you farewell. Again, many apologies for a hopeless lack of German knowledge. You’d think it would have been a prerequisite to live blog a Borussia Dortmund press conference but perhaps not. Only time will tell if the person who tweeted me suggesting I am getting “sacked in the morning” is correct.

I also apologise for this live blog becoming far too much about me. I can assure you it will not happen again. Let us end on what we came here for: Jurgen Klopp. It isn’t often that one of the world’s leading managers becomes available so expect the speculation to run, run and run some more until he gets another job. It’ll be interesting.

Thanks for joining me. Cheerio.

We like Jürgen Klopp and second that. And doubt whether it was his fault that he was given an assignment he could not understand.


Sadly, Ben Bloom has now gone home to start his German lessons. But he appears to have become something of a web sensation in the meantime, so here are some of the funniest tweets about his ridiculous press conference coverage.

(PS. We haven’t fired him. Yet.)

Bugg’s Lawspeak – legal translation blog

Stuart Bugg is a Barrister & Solicitor (New Zealand), Solicitor (England & Wales), and admitted to Regional Court of Nuremberg (Landgericht Nürnberg). I have had the pleasure of attending his seminar on translating contracts, but I am sorry to say I did not realize he had a blog, which started in January 2014. So here it is:

Bugg’s Lawspeak

I’ve now added it to my RSS feeds. I’m calling it a legal translation blog because it relates to English and German law and translation too.

Where has the Centre for German Legal Information gone? seems to have vanished from the radar.

Here’s my post introducing it in 2008.

It had links to all sorts of translations of current German statutes and many other documents too.

I hope it is just being updated and has not been removed altogether.

There is a site with links to ‘official’ translations, Gesetze im Internet, but there are many more statutes out there in translation, good or less good, that can be useful to translators and lawyers.

Pease pudding nearly banned from hand luggage


This is perhaps off topic, but I was surprised to read about this EasyJet case:

Geordie passenger stopped by airport security staff after pease pudding mistaken for Semtex

After being told that the consistency of the pudding could see it ‘technically’ classed as Semtex, he offered to let security taste it to prove it wasn’t.

The pease-pudding lover was allowed through with his snacks and simply warned to pack them in hold luggage the next time he travels.

He said: “I was very glad that they allowed me to keep them in the end. It is quite hard to get your hands on pease pudding down south.”

Since when is pease pudding hard to get ‘down south’? We always have boiled ham and pease pudding on Christmas Eve. And when we moved to Romford in about 1952, my mother was at Romford Market one day and went to sit down in the churchyard to have a rest, where she found two women eating saveloys and pease pudding out of newspaper. And now I read that these are a northern delicacy! And what is a ‘tub‘ of pease pudding?

Or does the actor not like the brand Foresight, which is the usual one down here? I think all the big supermarkets sell it. Well, maybe Foresight is too southern. And it appears that in the north east they eat pease pudding on its own in sandwiches, which is certainly strange.

It does elicit discussion.

New Seven Stars cat; You and Archbold

Easter Sunday was a good day to watch the new cat at the Seven Stars in Carey Street taking a stroll, albeit rescued from a dog at the end:

seven stars



He is not as magnificent as Tom Paine.

At Temple Station, the barriers carry an advert for You and Archbold, partners in crime:



The two big illegible ads in the background are for The White Book (as we know from elsewhere, anything else is a pale imitation).