Sat, Nov. 05, 2011

English in German Courts

CK - Washington.   A German contract in English often reflects nothing of the parties' intent and purpose: A high-schooler or LL.M.-graduate may have prepared the translation, and a shipment of pipe fittings turns into the supply of pipelines while a provision on independent contractors morphs into terms of employment.

Instead of legal terms well defined in German law and the foreign law that haphazardly may end up being the governing law, the unprofessional translation employs terms a teenager learned from rap music, the boss's buddy from Facebook video games and or an LL.M. student from chick flicks.

This horror scenario may soon reach the administration of justice in German courts. On November 11, 2011, the German carnival season begins. On November 9, 2011, the Berlin diet will hear from experts suggestions for a major change in the federal law on the judiciary. The experts are to explain an amendment to permit the use of English as the official language of select commercial courts in Germany.

Transblawg summarizes their arguments in favor of the change in a November 5, 2011 note, in English, Bundestag Hearing on English as Court Language. Major global concerns from Germany use these scary contracts, as does the famed small and medium corporate sector. International practitioners know the type of semi-English business and legal correspondence emanating from Germany. It is hard, respectively difficult, to see the benefit of employing a similar English in courts where precision and clarity should rule. See also Gerglish in German Courts, Jan. 2010.

Frequently, English native speakers note that English is difficult. Germans consider English easy unless they have lived in an English-speaking environment for a long time. Alas, the prevailing German perception is likely to win.


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