Terminology of Civil Procedure: What is “standing” (and how is it expressed in Spanish?)

One of the major news items this weekend was the US Supreme Court’s order denying Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s motion to file a bill of complaint with the Court challenging the 2020 election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Supreme Court’s ruling was short and sweet: “The State of Texas’ motion to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing.”

But few reporting on this matter in Spain appeared to understand the concept of “standing:”

  • Using the terminology of criminal procedure, TV1 called the motion a denuncia and said that the Supreme Court had ruled that Tejas no está en posición de pedir que se anulen votos en otros Estados… .
  • Calling the motion a demanda, Antena 3 claimed that the Supreme Court declared that the plaintiff’s petition carece de fundamentos, despite the fact that the Court made no ruling on the merits;
  • Tele5 said that the Supreme Court desestimó la querella, likewise insinuating that there was a ruling on the merits, while also mixing the terminology of civil and criminal procedure;
  • LaSexta noted that the Supreme Court tumbó la demanda del Fiscal General de Tejas.
  • El País reported that the Court rechazó la demanda…,
  • while El Mundo indicated that it rechazó el recurso de Texas.
  • Both ABC and Público chose to translate the sole argument in the Supreme Court’s order, noting that Texas no ha demostrado un interés reconocible judicialmente sobre la manera en que otro Estado celebre sus elecciones.*
  • Europapress, like others, used the expression rechazó la demanda, and
  • once again, confusing this with a criminal proceeding, Agencia EFE said that the Supreme Court desestimó la querella.

As noted above, the State of Texas’ motion was denied for “lack of standing,” a concept that wasn’t accurately reflected in any of the Spanish news reports shown above. So what is “standing”? And more importantly for legal translators, how can the expression be rendered in Spanish?

In this context, “standing” (most often expressed in British English with the Latin phrase locus standi) is simply the “right to bring an action or challenge a decision” (Oxford Dictionary of Law). The corresponding concept in Spanish is legitimación, defined as la facultad de actuar en el proceso que tiene el titular de un derecho material concreto para ejercitarlo o defenderlo (Diccionario Jurídico Colex). So the US Supreme Court’s denial of plaintiffs’ motion for “lack of standing” means that it was rejected based on their falta de legitimación.

Related vocabulary that may be of interest to legal translators:

  • legitimación—standing to sue or be sued**
  • legitimación activa—plaintiff’s/claimant’s (E&W) standing; standing to sue
  • legitimación pasiva—defendant’s standing; standing to be sued
  • legitimación extraordinaria/indirecta—third-party standing
  • legitimación por sucesión procesal—standing acquired upon party substitution

View the State of Texas’ motion for leave to file a bill of complaint here

View the Supreme Court’s order denying the motion here

*“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”

**A distinction is often made between legitimación ad processum, general standing in the sense of having the capacity to sue or be sued (adults of sound mind, not under a disability, etc.) and legitimación ad causam or standing to sue or be sued in a specific proceeding brought before the court.

Spanish-English Legal Terminology: Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure

This week I’m teaching our final unit for the semester on Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. For followers of this blog and, particularly, for my students of Legal English, here are links to previous posts for those interested in exploring the terminology of these legal disciplines:

1) General Terminology of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure

2) Confusing Terms, Strange Expressions and False Friends in Spanish-English Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure (and suggestions as to how to translate them)

3) Specific Offenses

Now in eBook! Thematic Lexicon of Spanish-English Legal Terminology

9788490862650

I’m pleased to announce that my Léxico temático de terminología jurídica español-inglés is now available in ebook.

More than a few colleagues have asked for a searchable versión, and since the Léxico is admittedly quite extensive (over 1,000 pages), the ebook edition will indeed make finding specific terms and concepts easier.

The work contains over 20,000 legal terms, expressions and concepts from 15 areas of Spanish law with their corresponding English translations, and its thematic approach presents terminology in the context in which it actually appears in Spanish legal texts. I created it as a tool for intensive translator-interpreter terminology training, as well as for lawyers and law professors who require an in-depth knowledge of Spanish and English in the major legal disciplines.

Here is a general overview of the Léxico’s content:

  • Law and the Judiciary (Derecho y sistema judicial)
  • Civil Procedure (Derecho procesal civil)
  • Criminal Law (Derecho penal)
  • Criminal Procedure (Derecho procesal penal)
  • Corrections Law (Derecho penitenciario)
  • Labor Law, Social Security Law and Labor Procedure (Derecho del trabajo, Derecho de la Seguridad Social y Derecho procesal Laboral)
  • Tax Law (Derecho tributario)
  • Law of Persons (Derecho de la persona)
  • Contracts (Derecho de los contratos)
  • Law of Torts (Derecho de daños)
  • Family Law (Derecho de familia)
  • Property Law and Property Registration (Derecho de cosas y Derecho hipotecario)
  • Law of Succession (Derecho de sucesiones)
  • Business Law (Derecho mercantil)

Download the full (32 page) table of contents: Léxico–Full table of contents.

Available from the Tirant lo Blanch legal publishers here.

 

Pitfalls of Spanish-English Legal Translation (II) (Non-linguistic and Cultural Aspects)

Pitfalls of Spanish-English Legal Translation(2)

As noted in previous blog entries, in March I was invited by the European Commission’s Spanish translators at the Directorate General for Translation (DGT) to give a conference on Spanish-English legal translation in Brussels and in Luxembourg. The conference has been published in three issues of puntoycoma, Boletín de los traductores españoles de las instituciones de la Unión Europea, and in the event it may prove of interest, the third installment in the latest issue of puntoycoma entitled “‘Trampas’ en la traducción del español jurídico (II) (Aspectos extralingüísticos y culturales)” is available here:

http://ec.europa.eu/translation/spanish/magazine/documents/pyc_154_es.pdf

In this issue I look at some of the non-linguistic pitfalls of legal translation, including the ellipses, cryptic expressions and general legalese used by Spanish legal professionals that rarely appear in bilingual dictionaries, as well as changes in legal terminology derived from legislative reform. In addition, I examine how a translator’s own legal culture may prompt translation mistakes, with examples from Spanish criminal law and criminal procedure that could easily be misinterpreted from a common law perspective.

A previous (second) installment of this article entitled “‘Trampas’ en la traducción del español jurídico (II) (Aspectos lingüísticos) reviewed some of the most common language-based pitfalls that Spanish-English translators encounter when rendering legal concepts, including different levels of “false friends,” polysemy in legal language, the problem of legal synonyms that appear to be the “same thing with a different name,” whether to translate expressions in Latin, and differences between legal language in the US and the UK:

http://ec.europa.eu/translation/spanish/magazine/documents/pyc_153_es.pdf

And the first installment of this article “Aciertos y desafíos en la traducción jurídica español-inglés” focused on four specific aspects of Spanish-English legal translation: “Traducciones que sí ‘encajan’” (concepts of Spanish law that fortunately have a close “functional equivalent” in Anglo-American law); “Traducciones (dudosas) generalmente aceptadas” (a controversial topic concerning generally-accepted renderings that are actually mistranslations in certain contexts); “Traducciones inventadas” (a look at a couple of invented translations that, nevertheless, appear in Internet publications and elsewhere; and “Traducciones imposibles” (which addresses the problem of translating legal terms that have no corresponding concept in Common Law):

http://ec.europa.eu/translation/spanish/magazine/documents/pyc_152_es.pdf

“Pitfalls in Spanish-English Legal Translation (I) (Linguistic Aspects)”

Pitfalls of Spanish-English Legal Translation(2)

In March I was invited by the European Commission’s Spanish translators at the Directorate General for Translation (DGT) to give a conference on Spanish-English legal translation in Brussels and in Luxembourg. The conference is being published in three issues of puntoycoma, Boletín de los traductores españoles de las instituciones de la Unión Europea, and in the event it may prove of interest, the second installment published yesterday and entitled “‘Trampas’ en la traducción del español jurídico (I) (Aspectos lingüísticos)” is available here:

Click to access pyc_153_es.pdf

In this installment I review some of the most common pitfalls that Spanish-English legal translators encounter when rendering legal concepts, including different levels of “false friends,” polysemy in legal language, the problem of legal synonyms that appear to be the “same thing with a different name,” whether to translate expressions in Latin, and differences between the legal language of the US and the UK.

The first installment of this article, published in the May/June 2017 issue of puntoycoma is entitled “Aciertos y desafíos en la traducción jurídica español-inglés” and focuses on four aspects of Spanish-English legal translation: “Traducciones que sí ‘encajan’” (concepts of Spanish law that fortunately have a close “functional equivalent” in Anglo-American law); “Traducciones (dudosas) generalmente aceptadas” (a controversial topic concerning generally-accepted renderings that are actually mistranslations in certain contexts); “Traducciones inventadas” (a look at a couple of invented translations that, nevertheless, appear in Internet publications and elsewhere; and “Traducciones imposibles” (which addresses the problem of translating legal terms that have no corresponding concept in Common Law):

http://ec.europa.eu/translation/spanish/magazine/documents/pyc_152_es.pdf

“Stepping Stones and Stumbling Blocks to Spanish-English Legal Translation”

Pitfalls of Spanish-English Legal Translation(2)

In March I was invited by the European Commission’s Spanish translators at the Directorate General for Translation (DGT) to give a conference on Spanish-English legal translation in Brussels and in Luxembourg. The conference is being published in three issues of puntoycoma, Boletín de los traductores españoles de las instituciones de la Unión Europea, and in the event it may prove of interest, the first installment entitled “Aciertos y desafíos en la traducción jurídica español-inglés” is available here:

Click to access pyc_152_es.pdf

In this article I examine four aspects of Spanish-English legal translation: “Traducciones que sí ‘encajan'” (concepts of Spanish law that fortunately have a close “functional equivalent” in Anglo-American law); “Traducciones (dudosas) generalmente aceptadas” (a controversial topic concerning generally accepted renderings that are actually mistranslations in certain contexts); “Traducciones inventadas” (a look at a couple of invented translations that, nevertheless, appear in Internet publications and elsewhere; and “Traducciones imposibles” (which addresses  the problem of translating legal terms that have no corresponding concept in Common Law).

Translating carga de la prueba

Legal Spanish for Translators

carga de la prueba

burden of proof; burden of persuasion; burden of production

Carga de la prueba is easily recognizable as an appropriate rendering for “burden of proof.” But carga de la prueba is also sometimes offered as a translation for “burden of persuasion,” perhaps because there isn’t really a similar Spanish law concept. Indeed, in Anglo-American law the concept of burden of proof entails two different aspects: “burden of persuasion” and “burden of production” (also called “burden of going forward with the evidence”).

This is evident in the definitions provided in Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed.):

 Burden of proof–A party’s duty to prove a disputed assertion or charge. The burden of proof includes both the burden of persuasion and the burden of production.

 Burden of persuasion–A party’s duty to convince the fact-finder to view the facts in a way that favors that party. In civil cases, the plaintiff’s burden is usually “by a preponderance of the evidence,” while in criminal cases the prosecution’s burden is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

 Burden of production–A party’s duty to introduce enough evidence on a issue to have the issue decided by the fact-finder, rather than decided against the party in a peremptory ruling such as a summary judgment or directed verdict.

 The fact that Spanish may not have terminological equivalents for both “burden of persuasion” and “burden of production” was underscored by Professor Fernando Gómez Pomar (professor at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra Law School in Barcelona) in an article published in the InDret law journal in 2001:*

 Las reglas sobre carga de la prueba comprenden, pues, de un lado, la determinación del umbral de certidumbre que requiere el juzgador para satisfacer la pretensión y, de otro, la determinación de cuál de las partes ha de suministrar las pruebas para alcanzar dicho umbral, so pena de recibir una decisión adversa sobre el fondo del asunto si no lo hace.

En el ámbito jurídico norteamericano, ambos aspectos son analizados independientemente dentro de la genérica “burden of proof”: se habla así de “burden of persuasion”, “level of confidence” o “standard of proof” … para referirse al primero, frente a “burden of production” o “burden of proof” en sentido estricto.

En España y, en general, en Europa, no se realiza con nitidez –o no se realiza en absoluto- la distinción entre las dos vertientes de la carga de la prueba. Tal vez ello se deba a que implícitamente se considera que sólo hay un nivel de confianza o convicción jurídicamente admisible en el juzgador acerca del acaecimiento de un cierto suceso.

Thus, the single expression carga de la prueba may have to suffice when rendering either “burden of proof” or “burden of persuasion” in English, unless the context requires clearly distinguishing the two by providing definitional translations. In contrast, I believe that “burden of production” (or “burden of going forward with the evidence”) does have an equivalent concept in Spanish and may be appropriately rendered as carga de aportación de la prueba.

*Fernando Gómez Pomar. Carga de la prueba y responsabilidad objetiva. InDret 1/2001, pp. 1-17. http://www.indret.com/pdf/040_es.pdf