Español jurídico: Distinguishing Jurisdictional Disputes

Legal Synonyms,Confusing Terms(what's the difference between..._)

conflicto de jurisdicción; conflicto de competencia; cuestión de competencia

The principal difficulty in finding a suitable translation for each of these expressions lies in the fact that all three may perhaps be described in English simply as “jurisdictional disputes,” since in this context both jurisdicción and competencia are “jurisdiction” in English. In effect, in most contexts “jurisdictional dispute” may suffice for all three, but if further clarification is necessary a “descriptive translation” may be warranted.

In that regard and as used in Spain, a conflicto de jurisdicción may be described as a “jurisdictional dispute between the courts and the public administration” (conflicto entre los tribunales y la administración). In this case it must be determined whether a given decision should be adopted by a court or by a governmental agency.

 Conflicto de competencia might be translated as a “dispute between courts of different jurisdictions” (conflicto entre tribunales de distintos órdenes jurisdiccionales), such as a dispute as to whether a case should be heard in the civil or the administrative courts (tribunales civiles o contencioso-administrativos).

And cuestión de competencia might be rendered as “dispute between different courts within the same jurisdiction” (conflicto entre tribunales dentro del mismo órden jurisdiccional), such as, for example, a dispute as to whether a civil case should be heard by a lower or higher court within the civil court hierarchy.

In general, the above may sometimes categorized as either positiva or negativa, depending on whether the entities in question seek to claim or decline jurisdiction. In that regard, in a conflicto de jurisdicción positiva both the court and the governmental agency involved in the dispute claim jurisdiction (se declaran competentes) over the matter. In a conflicto de jurisdicción negativa, the two entities claim that they lack jurisdiction (se declaran incompetentes) to decide the case.

Terminology of Criminal Procedure in English: 20 Verbs (and their Prepositions)

legal english crimpro terms

In our unit on the Criminal Law and Procedure, my students of Legal English often express surprise at the number of seemingly simple verbs used in describing criminal proceedings, many of which are collocations that must be coupled with the right preposition. In the event that they may be of interest to readers of this blog, here are what perhaps may be considered the Top 20 Legal English Crimpro Verbs:

  • to suspect (someone) OF having committed a crime
  • to commit a crime
  • to accuse (someone) OF a crime
  • to be charged WITH a crime
  • to bring charges AGAINST (someone)
  • to arrest (someone) ON a charge OF (X)
  • to be arrested FOR an offense
  • to be brought BEFORE a judge
  • to plead guilty/not guilty TO a crime
  • to confess TO a crime
  • to be released ON bail
  • to prosecute (someone) FOR an offense
  • to be tried FOR an offense
  • to defend the accused AGAINST the charges
  • to pass verdict ON the accused
  • to find the accused guilty AS charged
  • to convict/acquit the accused
  • to sentence the accused TO 10 years in prison
  • to serve a 10-year sentence
  • to be released FROM incarceration

Multiple meanings of “board” (and how they translate into Spanish)

Legal Terms with Multiple Meanings

When “board” denotes a group of persons exercising managerial or supervisory powers the term can have several different Spanish renderings. For example, in business law contexts “board of directors” is consejo de administración, while the “board of trustees” of a foundation is its patronato.

“Board” is also used in the context of alternative dispute resolution (resolución extrajudicial de conflictos), in which arbitration (arbitraje) may be conducted by a single arbitrator (árbitro) or by a panel of arbitrators commonly known as an “arbitration board” (tribunal arbitral).

In the US, a state or local entity that governs and manages the public school system is commonly know as the “board of education,” while persons appointed to supervise institutions of higher education such as colleges and universities are often known as the “board of regents.”

And “board” may likewise designate a type of governmental body or entity. In that regard, what in Spain are collectively termed organismos administrativos (generically, “governmental agencies”) receive several different names within the US Government. One of these is “board” (Federal Reserve Board; National Labor Relations Board), but also include “agencies” (Central Intelligence Agency—CIA; Environmental Protection Agency—EPA), “bureaus” (Federal Bureau of Investigation—FBI) and “commissions” (Securities and Exchange Commission—SEC; International Trade Commission—ITC).

Anglicismos in Spanish Legislation?

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The Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Empresa recently asked for public comment (consulta pública) before preparing the text of a legislative bill (anteproyecto de ley) to be presented to the Spanish parliament entitled Ley de Fomento del Ecosistema de Startups. Yes, that’s right “startups” are the subject of this new legislation, with no attempt to render or even define this corporate form in Spanish. In fact, in its call for comments the government is still seeking a delimitación conceptual de las “startups” para centrar el objeto de aplicacion de las particularidades y excepciones normativas que se creen para estas.

When I first read this news, I asked myself whether it’s true that there really is no appropriate Spanish translation of “startup,” and whether Spanish entrepreneurs have simply adopted the English startup-related terminology or, to the contrary, have developed Spanish “equivalents” when discussing this subject.

In my research I found many definitions of “startup” (such as empresa de nueva creación que implementa nuevos modelos de negocio, a menudo apoyada en tecnología digital) and translations such as empresa incipiente; empresa emergente; microempresa de nueva creación or empresa innovadora de nueva creación. And I have to admit that none of these renderings seems to capture the essence of “startup” as reflected in the definition shown above.

It turns out that many startup business concepts do indeed have Spanish translations (see the list below), but will there never be a Spanish rendering of the term “startup” itself? Will “startup” be the first anglicismo (that I am aware of) to actually be used in a piece of Spanish legislation?

As Spanish-English translators, do you (as readers of this blog or my Tweets) have an appropriate Spanish rendering for “startup” to suggest to the Spanish government? The deadline for submitting comments is January 25, 2019 and can be sent to this address: leystartups@mineco.es.

For background, here is the call for public comment (consulta pública): https://avancedigital.gob.es/es-es/Participacion/Paginas/anteproyecto-ley-ecosistema-Startups.aspx

And this is the texto de la consulta pública outlining the areas on which the Spanish government is seeking input: https://avancedigital.gob.es/es-es/Participacion/Documents/anteproyecto-ley-startups.pdf

o-o-o-o-o

Here are some of the startup-related terms and concepts that I found in my readings do indeed have possible Spanish renderings (or at least definitional translations):

  • behavior economics—economía conductual
  • bootstrapping—autofinanciación; financiación propia/con los recursos del emprendedor
  • break-even point—punto de equilibrio (entre ingresos y gastos)
  • bridge loan—préstamo puente
  • burning—consumo de caja
  • business ecosystem—ecosistema empresarial
  • business incubator—incubadora/vivero de empresas
  • cap table (capitalization table)—lista de aportaciones de los inversores
  • churn rate—tasa/ratio de abandono
  • coworking—trabajo cooperativo
  • crowdfunding—financiación colectiva/participativa; micromecenazgo
  • due diligence—auditoría preinversión
  • elevator pitch—presentación rápida/sucinta/resumida del proyecto empresarial
  • fundraising—captación de recursos/inversiones/aportaciones/capital
  • How might we (HMW)? method—método de instrospección
  • key performance indicator (KPI)—indicador clave de rendimiento/desempeño
  • mockup—prototipo
  • non-disclosure agreement—acuerdo de confidencialidad
  • phantom shares—acciones fantasma; bonos multianuales
  • pitch—presentación del proyecto empresarial
  • postmoney valuation—valoración posinversión
  • premoney valuation—valoración preinversión
  • roll-out of business plan—ejecución/implementación del plan empresarial
  • seed capital—capital semilla; capital inicial; aportación económica inicial
  • seed investor—inversor inicial
  • sharing economy—economía colaborativa
  • startup aid—ayuda a la creación de empresas
  • stock option—opción sobre acciones
  • term-sheet—hoja de condiciones (de la inversión)
  • venture capital—capital riesgo
  • venture capitalist—inversor de capital riesgo
  • waterfall development—desarrollo en cascadas
  • wireframe—esquema/prototipo de página web

What is Derecho de la persona?

Derecho de la persona

Derecho de la persona has sometimes been misunderstood and mistranslated variously as “personal law,” “rights of the person” and even “civil rights.” But Derecho de la persona (also called Derecho de las personas and Derecho de personas) is actually a major branch of civil law in civil code countries, governing a broad range of personal attributes. This “Law of Persons” has been defined as consisting of “all norms concerning the status of individuals and legal entities which are the subjects of the law.”* As an example, here are some of the main areas regulated in the Spanish Civil Code’s Libro Primero “De las Personas”:

  • Nacimiento—birth, including commencement of legal personality (comienzo de la personalidad) and acquisition of legal capacity (acquisición de la capacidad jurídica), defined as aptitud para ser titular de derechos y obligaciones.
  • Estado civil—civil status(es); often translated as “marital status,” but the expression is actually much broader and the appropriate translation may vary greatly, depending on context (more on on estado civil here).
  • Capacidad—legal capacity as defined above under nacimiento; plus capacidad de obrar, i.e., the ability to exercise legal capacity, that is, to exercise rights and assume obligations.
  • Incapacitación— including grounds for an adjudication of incompetence (causas de incapacitación) and incompetency proceedings (procedimiento de incapacitación).
  • Edad—age, including aspects of minority (minoría); means of emancipation (emancipación) and the legal implications of reaching the age of majority (alcanzar la mayoría de edad).
  • Nacionalidad—nationality and the means for acquiring citizenship (adquisición de la nacionalidad)
  • Domicilio—domicile or main residence (domicilio habitual efectiva)
  • Vecindad civil—regional domicile that determines whether a person is subject to general civil legislation (the Código Civil) or to specific local law (Derecho foral o especial) existing in certain Spanish regions.
  • Ausencia—long-term absence of missing persons (desaparecidos), who may be judicially declared ausentes so that in the interim a representative of their interests (representante del ausente) may be appointed by the court.
  • Declaración de muerte—declaration of the death of a missing person presumed dead

*Glendon, Mary Ann, et. al., Comparative Legal Traditions. St. Paul: West Group, 2015, p. 113.

False Friends: When doctrina isn’t “doctrine”

 

Español Jurídico

Doctrina and “doctrine” may certainly be considered cognates when they denote general tenets or principles such as, for example, la doctrina del fruto del árbol envenenado (the fruit-of-the-poisonous tree doctrine) or the doctrina del levantamiento del velo societario (the veil doctrine [or] the piercing of the corporate veil doctrine).

But when referring to the authoritative writing of jurists, legal scholars and law professors, “doctrine” is not an appropriate translation for doctrina. As used in Spanish legal contexts, doctrina most often denotes the writings of law professors and legal commentators, and may be appropriately translated as “legal scholarship,” “academic opinion,” “legal (or) academic writing,” or “the opinion of legal scholars,” etc. Thus, in this context an expression such as autorizada doctrina is “authoritative academic opinion,” and a principle that is aceptado en doctrina is “accepted by legal scholars.”

In other respects, in the context of court decisions doctrina is often an ellipsis for the expression doctrina jurisprudencial and denotes “caselaw.” Thus, as used in the opinions of the Spanish Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional) or Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo), expressions such as nuestra reiterada doctrina or nuestra doctrina pacífica refer to the courts’ “established (or) settled caselaw,” while recurso de casación para la unificación de doctrina denotes a “Supreme Court appeal to unify conflicting caselaw.” And, in more general contexts, the expression legislación, jurisprudencia y doctrina refers to “laws, caselaw and legal scholarship (or) academic opinion.”

 

Multiple Meanings of paro in Labor Law Contexts

Legal Terms with Multiple Meanings

Paro has several legal meanings, many of them in the context of labor law. In one sense, paro is an informal synonym of desempleo (“unemployment”), as in estar en (el) paro (“to be unemployed,” “to be out of work”—also, estar desempleado), or cobrar el paro (“to receive/to draw unemployment benefits;” “to receive/to collect an unemployment check”). In this sense tasa de paro is tasa de desempleo (“unemployment rate”), and paro is used with this meaning in a number of expressions such as paro estacional (“seasonal unemployment”); paro estructural (“structural unemployment”); paro cíclico (“cyclical unemployment”); paro temporal (“temporary unemployment”); paro coyuntural (“contextual unemployment”) or paro de larga duración (“long-term unemployment”).

Paro is likewise used in two different expressions in the context of labor disputes. In that regard, paro may designate a concerted “work stoppage,” a labor action that may fall short of a formal strike: El comité de empresa convocó un paro de 24 horas (“The workers’ committee called a 24-hour work stoppage”). And, in other respects, paro patronal (more often termed cierre patronal) is the Spanish equivalent of what is known in English as a “lockout” (or less often a “shut out”), an action taken by management, preventing employees from working or even entering workplace premises as means of pressuring them to accept employer demands.