Translating barristers’ language

The Secret Barrister tries to help a work experience student understand criminal court proceedings at Translating barrister-speak: A beginner’s guide.

For example, ‘My client has had the benefit of robust advice’ translates as ‘I have told the stupid dildo REPEATEDLY how utterly rubber ducked he is’.

Legal cheek decodes what a supervisor says to a supervisee.

For example, the supervisor says ‘I hear what you say’, the supervisee understands ‘He accepts my point of view’, but the supervisor means ‘I entirely disagree and do not want to discuss it further’.

This does ring very true.

Lord Chancellor’s Breakfast 2015

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Who goes to the Lord Chancellor’s Breakfast?

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I did not spot Michael Gove. The justices of the Supreme Court OK, then the High Court judges in partly red dress, the circuit judges in partly lavender. Then come some in black. I suppose some are recorders. Opinions are put forward in the crowd – for example, one man said ‘if they have the long wigs, they are judges, if not, they aren’t yet’. Or do not all judges buy the full-bottomed ones, or recorders not wear them? And who are those in long red robes? and are there mere barristers? Some of the people are what are known as wives.

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At Stanley Ley’s site you can see the full-bottomed wig, the judge’s bench wig, and the barrister’s wig.

Joshua Rozenberg wrote that though 1,000 go to the service, only about half are invited to the breakfast. This explains the more plainly clad persons heading off to the right.

Who are these?

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And these?

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I think there must have been academics there in academic gowns, and also clerics.

LATER NOTE: At gettyimages are some pictures of judges in new robes in October 2008.
Here is a description in words.

The ones with blue bits are district judges – they would not be wearing wigs in open court.

And Wikipedia says:

On special ceremonial occasions (such as the opening of the legal year), QCs wear (in addition to their court coat, waistcoat and silk gown) a long wig, black breeches, silk stockings and buckled shoes, lace cuffs and a lace jabot instead of bands.

I didn’t realize QCs wear long-bottomed wigs. So the ones in the top pictures are QCs.

EVEN LATER NOTE:

There is something about the service on the Westminster Abbey site. They also have a series of photos including one of Michael Gove reading a lesson. But some of the Supreme Court justices weren’t wearing wigs either (they don’t when they’re sitting).

Lang & Rahmann Rechtsanwälte Newsletter

I recently received a newsletter from Lang & Rahmann Rechtsanwälte in Düsseldorf. I don’t know how you can get it, but I suspect you write to newsletter@lang-rahmann.de, which is given as the email address to unsubscribe. But in fact the newsletter consists of links to texts on the firm’s website, so if you go straight to the website you can read summaries of a number of recent cases in German, French and English. One of the lawyers at the firm is Dr. Stephan Kettler, who has published bilingual legal dictionaries and is a certified translator and interpreter for English and French. I use his Wörterbuch Gewerblicher Rechtsschutz und Urheberrecht: Englisch-Deutsch / Deutsch-Englisch, 2011 alongside Uexküll (Wörterbuch der Patent- und Markenpraxis). It’s great to have both.
There must have been more than one person working on the English texts. I did wonder about the translation of Schwarzarbeit as black labour, but then I read recently that consideration has been given to having James Bond played by a black actor, so it must be OK.

I see they use Federal Supreme Court for Bundesgerichtshof, which I’ve commented on before. But they always give the German name the first time around, so that is good. They have, I think, an American touch (Sect., docket) and they capitalize Plaintiff, which is not usual in this kind of text. I was also intrigued by the reference to the preponement of a flight – this is apparently well established in Indian English though. I intend to use it myself whenever I can from now on.

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.

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.

Amal Clooney fashion disasters

Oh Amal! Mrs. Clooneys 5 Worst Fashion Disasters

(tweeted by John Flood, from Louise Mensch).

Perhaps this follows on from what she is alleged to have said when asked if she would be wearing Versace to the European Court of Human Rights and replied ‘I’m wearing Ede & Ravenscroft’.

Disaster 1:

1) Oh dear! We can’t begin to tell Amal just how much is wrong with this outfit, which she wore this week to the European Court of Human Rights during a trial against a Turkish politician who denied the existence of an Armenian genocide 100 years ago. The solid black colouring of the material, combined with the baggy shapelessness of the whole ensemble… to make matters worse, her gorgeous Lebanese skin tones are washed out by that ghastly white collar and bow. It’s clear that Mrs. Clooney hasn’t got the hang of dressing for the press just yet! Sort your wife out, George!

But I am shocked to discover there is actually a blog about what she wears: Amal Clooney Style.

Meanwhile your blogger has been admiring fleshy buttocks and meaty arms at the Rubens exhibition.

German lawyers fighting in Munich?

Under the heading Exclusive: Two Linklaters partners resign after office party fight
Roll on Friday reports that two partners at Linklaters in Munich have resigned after a fight at an Oktoberfest party.

I’m not sure if this is right because I can still find Laurenz Schmitt on the Linklaters site, but not thomas Elser.

LATER NOTE: Here’s a German report from November. It looks as if just Thomas Elser left, and Linklaters weren’t saying why.

Ian McEwan: The Children Act

Charles Dickens: Bleak House

CHAPTER I
In Chancery

London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes—gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.

Ian McEwan: The Children Act

ONE
London. Trinity term one week old. Implacable June weather. Fiona Maye, a High Court judge, at home on Sunday evening, supine on a chaise longue, staring past her stockinged feet towards the end of the room, towards a partial view of recessed bookshelves by the fireplace and, to one side, by a tall window, a tiny Renoir lithograph of a bather, bought by her thirty years ago for fifty pounds. Probably a fake.

The parallels between Bleak House and The Children Act, Ian McEwan’s new novel, are limited, although the weather theme is pursued, fog in Bleak House being replaced by a long damp spell in the summer of 2012 in The Children Act.

It’s a short novel less about the law than about balancing the judge’s involvement in her work with her personal life. To write it, McEwan had to do a lot of research into law and lawyers. Indeed, one of his advisers was James Wood of Doughty Street Chambers, the second mention of those chambers here in a couple of weeks.

There is an introductory quote from the Children Act of 1989:

When a court determines any question with respect to … the upbringing of a child … the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration.

There’s a good summary and review by Carl Gardner at Head of Legal. As he writes, one can criticize it from the legal point of view, but that, as he says, is from a lawyer’s point of view – on the other hand, it’s only because this is a legal blog that I’m mentioning it. For instance, there is a lot of discussion as to whether a boy three months short of his 18th birthday can decide his own medical treatment, and that (referred to as Gillick competence) is scarcely a controversial matter – maybe if he were 15, the opposing sides would exploit the age factor. There’s also the point that a child over 16 and under 18 who refuses medical treatment may be overruled by the courts, but only subject to the child’s paramount interest.

(Gillick competence refers to Mrs Victoria Gillick, who had five sons and five daughters, and in 1983 failed to get a court declaration that the daughters would not get contraceptive advice until they were over 16.)

Another lawyer’s review, by Sarah E Green, in Family Law Week, links to some of the decisions used by McEwan in the novel. The bits I found most interesting in showing how a family law judge has to think were based on Re G, a case concerning the schooling of Jewish children after a divorce:

Application for permission to appeal the making of (1) a specific issue order in relation to the education of five children from the Chareidi community of ultra orthodox Jews; (2) a residence order in favour of the mother. Permission refused in relation to the residence order. Permission granted in relation to the education specific issue order but the appeal dismissed.

Green concludes:

This book has been received by the legal community with much aplomb, although with somewhat less enthusiasm from a handful of critics outside of the legal sphere. It is a must-read for any family lawyer with a passion for literature.

Paragraph 84 of Lord Justice Munby’s judgment is the source of McEwan’s character’s remark that all three barristers, the two solicitors and the CAFCASS officer in the case were women – and yet the father’s religious community would have prevented his daughters from educational opportunities:

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4. The first focused on educational opportunity. Here the evidence was clear and the choice stark. Whatever may be the practice in relation to education down to the point when children takes GCSEs, it is clear that, even for boys, the educational options narrow drastically thereafter in the Chareidi system and that tertiary education as generally understood hardly features at all. Career opportunities for boys in professions such as medicine and the law are very limited indeed, for girls virtually non-existent. The contrast with the wider community could hardly be greater. It is hard to imagine how either law or medicine could operate today without the women who at every level and in such large numbers enjoy careers which they find fulfilling and from which society as a whole derives so much benefit. Take the law: when I was called to the Bar in 1971 there were 2,714 barristers in practice at the independent bar of whom only 167 (some 6%) were women; by 2011 there were 12,673 of whom 4,106 (some 32%) were women. That is a measure of just how far society has moved in the last 40 years. And that, in my judgment, is the kind of societal reality to which a family judge must have regard in a case such as this. It is, after all, the reality which is daily on display in our family courts. The present case, as it happens, is typical of many: all three counsel who appeared before us were women, so too were the two solicitors, and so too was the CAFCASS officer. Judge Copley, in my judgment, was plainly entitled to conclude, as he did, that:

“the schools to which she wishes to send them will provide infinitely superior opportunities for these children to gain a much fuller and wider education, not only at secondary level but also at tertiary level should they choose that – the father’s own evidence and that of his witnesses bears this out – and thereafter they will have much greater job opportunities”,

just as he was entitled to accept Mrs Adams’ view that it was:

“more likely that the children will achieve greater economic success if they are given aspirations in relation to careers that exist outside the Jewish community.”

The musical recital at the end of the novel reminded me of Alan Rusbridger’s Play It Again, where you also get the contrast between playing the piano and dealing with a hectic work life.