German courts holding commercial cases in English

The subject of German judges holding cases in English has raised its ugly head again and is not likely to go away. I’ve mentioned it several times, from 2010 on.

Courts in Paris and Amsterdam as well as Frankfurt would like to take over the international commercial cases so often held in London. Apparently after Brexit UK decisions won’t be automatically effective in the EU and this will slow things down.

Frankfurt am Main Landgericht (Regional Court) has announced this week that from January it will have an English-speaking commercial chamber. From Legal Tribune Online (in German!):

Gerichtsstandort Frankfurt Eng­lisch­spra­chige Kammer für Han­dels­sa­chen ab 2018

Das Landgericht (LG) Frankfurt am Main will ab Januar 2018 eine englischsprachige Kammer für Handelssachen einrichten. Wie das LG am Donnerstag mitteilte, soll Frankfurt damit als Gerichtsstandort gestärkt werden. “Unternehmen sollen die Möglichkeit erhalten, nach ihrer Wahl die Verhandlung auf Englisch durchzuführen”, sagte der Gerichtspräsident Wilhelm Wolf.

I’m not going to analyse this at length, but it is fun reading some of the comments on articles quoted here.

Here is something in English from Bloomberg:

Paris, Frankfurt Try to Grab Lucrative Legal Action From London

“London is stepping into the shadows,” says Roman Poseck, president of the appeals court in Frankfurt, where officials plan to have an English-language panel in place by January. “Frankfurt wants a piece of the pie.”

(Is this what’s known as a mixed metaphor?)

This is all early November 2017 stuff. It was being discussed in March though.

Here is my earlier report on a colleague’s description of the first court hearing in English:

First German court hearing in English

I remember coming to the conclusion that the judges understood each other despite using English, not because of it.

The problem for me, of course, is the language, and above all the gulf between what some judges think is fluent English and what some translators and interpreters think. Especially when it comes to talking about one’s own or a different legal system in a foreign language.

13th INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FORUM

Another legal translation and interpreting conference on the horizon:

13th INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FORUM

Legal Translation and Interpreting in a Changing World: Technology – Outsourcing – Shifts

This one is in Bonn in September 2018 and is organized by Aticom and the FIT.

and is pleased to invite

translators, interpreters, academics, researchers, students and practitioners

to attend the Forum

at Gustav-Stresemann-Institut (www.gsi-bonn.de)
in Bonn, Germany, from 6th to 8th September 2018

The languages used at the Forum will be English, French and German and the topics will range from LTI standards and best practices via international cooperation to videoconferencing and machine translation.

 I am not sure what ‘shifts’ are – presumably not petticoats.
LTI apparently stands for Legal Translation and Interpreting. I’m not sure where the abbreviation originates from and how long it’s been around. However, this is called the thirteenth international forum so there must have been twelve already. It appears the twelfth was in Peru, but the others were in Europe. More info from the FIT newsletter perhaps:

Aldi in the kitchen

While I’m on the subject of food, I saw that Aldi is currently advertising a stand mixer somewhat similar to KitchenAid and somewhat cheaper too. This is all in connection with the Great British Bake-Off on TV (which is preceded by ads for Lyle’s golden syrup and Dr. Oetker – when I was studying in Berlin from 1967-68 I found Dr. Oetker so irritating – I couldn’t understand how baking powder could be branded – and did not anticipate Dr. Oetker being on TV in the UK fifty years later – I spent less time thinking about Axel Springer).

Apparently Lidl has something similar.

Aldi Ambiano Premium. This model has what are described as attachments for mincing, sausage making, pasta making and cookie making. From what I read it sounds like these elements are devilishly complex to put together. I am struck by the ‘cookie attachment’:

It looks rather repulsive here. It is a typical German thing, surely? Ihat is, all German meat mincers come with a device for extruding a particular kind of biscuit dough, but can non-Germans use such a thing? – I’ve just been reminded by SistaRay on Twitter that it’s called Spritzgebäck. There are quite a few English-language recipes online. I think they may be sold here as Viennese biscuits. Certainly worth trying.

I must say I probably no longer need a mixer. I did buy a Bosch one, which was a Which? best buy, but it turned out to have exactly the problems the Aldi mincer attachment is said to have: you virtually had to be a qualified engineer to work out how to operate it. Maybe OK if you used it every day.

Another thing that strikes me in the Aldi brochure is the wooden toy kitchen.

This fabulous Wooden Premium Kitchen is ideal for your little one to explore and engage with imaginative role play. Your child could be an extravagant chef in the kitchen making the most amazing meals on the hob, in the oven or using the microwave. Afterwards they can wash up the dishes in the Belfast sink, put ingredients away in the fridge and prepare an ice cold drink using the drink and ice dispenser.

This shocked me, because I gradually realized that this kitchen doesn’t do anything. It’s all ‘imaginative role play’. But I actually had a toy stove as a child, and I could really cook things on it – I can still picture the little slices of carrot I boiled (had not yet read Elizabeth David). This Japanese toy kitchen must be similar to it. I can’t remember candles or what fuel source it had, but it was one of my favourite toys. Nowadays, it wouldn’t be allowed.

 

  • Oven – with opening & shutting door, shelf inside, and clicking dials

  • Washing machine – with opening & shutting door and clicking dials

 

Clicking dials! That’s all it does.

I have already in this blog mourned the loss of Mr. Potato Head to be used with real raw potatoes. Just as well I am older now.

Twin Peaks on the Wrekin

Poundland’s Toblerone rip-off seems to have been a peak too far. from The Guardian:

Poundland reaches deal with Toblerone makers over copycat bar

There is hope, however:

Poundland said that 500,000 of the bars, which are currently in production, would go on sale in December in “distinctive packaging” different from the light-gold wrapper it originally planned. …

 

Poundland said it would relaunch Twin Peaks in the new year “with a modified shape that still offers customers 180g of British-made chocolate inspired by the Wrekin and Ercall hills in Shropshire”.

It appears that Toblerone preferred making this settlement to risking a full court dispute.

This was quite an eye-opener for me. Whenever I listened to the Vaughan Williams setting of On Wenlock Edge, I stupidly assumed the Wrekin was a river, but that wouldn’t explain ‘his forest fleece’:

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
      His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
      And thick on Severn snow the leaves.
I think some of the cakes I have baked have a Wrekin touch.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages

I mentioned recently a tweet from Prof Jo Delahunty QC:

Twitter help plz?HoL session nxt wk on legal interpreting:can u think of legal terms/turn of speech that r unintelligible even 2 lawyers?

 

I couldn’t work out what House of Lords session this might be, but a colleague has told me it was a closed meeting of the All Party parliamentary Group on Modern Languages. This group was started by Baroness Coussins and is now chaired by Baroness Nia Griffith. I am not even sure whether the House of Lords committee meeting was today or yesterday. It has concerned itself a lot with the farming out of interpreting and translation services. It was started because Jean Coussins was concerned about the decline in modern language teaching in schools. The committee has branched out into all areas where modern languages are an issue.

To quote the British Council Site:

The APPG’s stated purpose is to:

  • explore the educational, skills-related, employment, competitive and cultural benefits of learning and using languages throughout the UK

  • provide a parliamentary forum for information exchange and consultation

  • encourage and support policies and action improving the take-up of languages in schools, further and higher education, in the workplace and in the community.

.

Donoghue v. Stevenson (almost) rides again

Legal Cheek reports that a case called Donoghue v. Stevens was heard in Manchester today:

EXCLUSIVE: There was stifled laughter all round at Manchester County Court this morning when the case of Donoghue v Stevens appeared on the hearing list.

Unfortunately, the case — which is of course very similar in name to the 1932 tort law classic, Donoghue v Stevenson — has nothing to do with a snail or ginger beer, and actually involves a road traffic accident.

Manchester County Court’s hearing list shows that Donoghue v Stevens was heard at 10am this morning before District Judge Davies.

I notice that Otago University anticipated the change of name.

Language that even judges don’t understand, sought on Twitter

A tweet yesterday from Prof Jo Delahunty QC:

Twitter help plz?HoL session nxt wk on legal interpreting:can u think of legal terms/turn of speech that r unintelligible even 2 lawyers?

Suggestions posted there:

Scottish law reports and odd use of Latin.
Any use of Latin
‘We are sitting on x day’ – do clients think we distinguish between standing up or not

‘Conference’ instead of meeting.

‘Shall remain in place until after c has left the jurisdiction’ but c can’t leave the jurisdiction if it’s still in place

Ex tempore, de minimis cd. esily be expressed in English.

Subtle judicial putdowns.

‘Miss X’s ambitious submission…’

‘Bold’. ambitious slightly more bitchy than bold.

Notwithstanding

In the alternative

Home Office unable to understand that ‘within 14 days’ means a fortnight – they think it means 3 months or so.

‘Proportionality’ in costs: mine are proportionate, yours are extortionate.

Double negatives and putting stuff in the passive – done to communicate nuance, but hardly plain English.

‘Forthwith’ – if you mean RIGHT NOW say so!

‘I listened to smultran of a ECJ hearing and the interpreter gave the exact opposite meaning for one word.’

Frequently words that have specific legal meaning or use but are in daily palance that cause bother, e.g. ‘robbing’.

Assault – conversion – occasioning – blackmail. I ‘submit’

And our insistence on using fancy words like ‘vernacular’ or ‘particularise’ or ‘traverse’.

Disguised compliance.

Mutatis mutandis

I don’t know if these examples are meant to be things difficult for interpreters, or for readers who aren’t lawyers.They are presumably what barristers think are confusing.

This kind of language is used by German lawyers too. I don’t find it particularly difficult to undestand becasue I think I switch my mind to that register. But I am not sure about ‘language that even judges don’t understand’.

 

LATER NOTE

I am told that the House of Lords meeting referred to in the tweet was the All Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages, of which a bit more in a later post.

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”.