For anyone interested in Legal English, Peter Tiersma’s book on “Legal Language” (University of Chicago Press, 2000) is an absolute must. After tracing the origins and development of Legal English (providing sample texts in Anglo-Saxon and Law French), he then examines the nature of legal language as used by both lawyers and in the courtroom. Another remarkable source of information on legal language is the late Professor Tiersma’s webpage, part of which is still maintained and made accessible to the general public by the Loyola Law School of Los Angeles (http://www.languageandlaw.org/).
For anyone interested in Legal Spanish (and Spanish language in general), Fundéu (Fundación del Español Urgente) is a must. Since 2005, in this collaborative effort of the Agencia EFE news agency, BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) and the Real Academia Española, Fundéu’s team of journalists, linguists, lexicographers, translators and other language professionals have provided a forum for promoting the correct usage of Spanish in the communications media and everywhere else. As their mission statement indicates, “mediante recomendaciones diarias y respuestas a las consultas que recibimos, pretendemos ser una herramienta que ayude a todos aquellos que utilizan el idioma en su actividad diaria en los medios de comunicación, las redes sociales, las nuevas plataformas digitales…”
- Daily usage Recomendaciones are available here: http://www.fundeu.es/dudas/ (subscribe and get them daily in your inbox)
- They will answer any question about Spanish usage on their Consultas page, or read the latest questions posed here: http://www.fundeu.es/consultas/
- And Categorías features thematic glosaries, including one on “Asuntos jurídicos, políticos and administrativos:” http://www.fundeu.es/categorias/
Spanish-to-English translators are often called upon to translate a variety of notarial documents. An excellent source for understanding the terminology of notarially-recorded instruments and lots of basic Civil Law concepts is the Glosario de Términos Notariales available on the website of Spain’s Consejo General del Notariado at http://glosario.notariado.org/ .
The site also offers a series of folletos informativos covering many of the areas of private law in which notaries intervene: http://www.notariado.org/liferay/web/notariado/folletos-informativos .
And, finally, the Consejo publishes a searchable online magazine Escritura Pública featuring a variety of articles that seek to serve as a punto de encuentro entre este colectivo y el resto de la sociedad: http://www.notariado.org/liferay/web/notariado/publicaciones/publicaciones-periodicas/escritura-publica .
Housed at the Cornell University Law School, the Legal Information Institute has provided open-access legal information from a variety of sources since 1992. Its “Get the Law” section includes the complete texts of the principal US legal documents. including the US Code (compendium of all permanent federal statutes), all of the Federal Rules of Procedure (civil, criminal, appellate, evidence and bankruptcy) and the Uniform Commercial Code, among others. The LII’s “Legal Encyclopedia” features hundreds of entries on business law, constitutional law, criminal law, family law, employment law, money and finances, and many other areas of law. The “Articles” section likewise has hundreds of summaries on a broad variety of legal topics. And under “Español” many of the aspects of US law are presented in Spanish. At the end of the article in Spanish there is a link to the same or similar article in English for those who may want to compare the concepts and terminology presented there in both languages.
Here is a short bibliography on the basic features of civil law systems and civil law-common law terminology:
Apple, James G. and Robert P. Deyling. A Primer on the Civil-Law System. Washington, D.C.: Federal Judicial Center, 1995. http://www.fjc.gov/public/pdf.nsf/lookup/CivilLaw.pdf/$file/CivilLaw.pdf
Glendon, Mary Ann, et. al. Comparative Legal Traditions in a Nutshell. St. Paul: West Academic Publishing, 2015.
Kinsella, Stephan. “A Civil Law to Common Law Dictionary.” Louisiana Law Review, Vol. 54, No. 5 (May 1994). as published
Kinsella, Stephan. “Civil-Law Terminology and its Relation to Common-Law Terminology” Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Division Newsletter, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Spring 1995), pp. 12-14. Civil-Law Terminology and its Relation to Common-Law Terminology
Lawson, F.H. A Common Lawyer Looks at the Civil Law. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Law School, 1953; Praeger, 1977. (Available from HeinOnLine)
Lundmark, Thomas. Charting the Divide between Common and Civil Law. NY: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Malavet, Pedro A. “Seminar: An Introduction to the Civil Code.” http://nersp.nerdc.ufl.edu/~malavet/seminar/ccmain.htm
Merryman, John Henry. The Civil Law Tradition: An Introduction to the Legal Systems of Western Europe and Latin America. Stanford: Stanford University Press (3rd ed.), 2007.
Tetley, William, “Mixed Jurisdictions: Common Law vs. Civil Law (Codified and Uncodified)” Parts I and II. 4 Uniform Law Review 1999-3, 591-619 and 1999-4, 877-907. Mixed Jurisdictions: Common Law v. Civil Law – DigitalCommons …
International Accounting Standards (IAS)
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)
For translators who often have to translate texts dealing with International Accounting Standards (IAS) or the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) into Spanish (or vice versa), here are the full English texts side-by-side with their Spanish counterparts, Normas Internacionales de Contabilidad (NIC) and Normas Internacionales de Información Financiera (NIIF) (courtesy of the Official Journal of the EU):
A useful source of ES-EN legal terminology are the Guía de negocios en España and its English versión “Guide to Business in Spain.” An initiative of ICEX (the former Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior, now called ICEX España Exportación e Inversiones), the guides are written by the lawyers at Garrigues and translated by the law firm’s team of in-house translators. They are updated yearly, are available for downloading in pdf format* and cover many aspects of the Spanish legal system including:
- Sistema fiscal (Tax System)
- Legislación laboral y de seguridad social (Labor and Social Security Regulations)
- Propiedad industrial e intellectual (Intellectual Property Law)
- Legislación en material de sociedades (Company and Commercial Law
- Sistema financiero español (The Spanish Financial System)
- Aspectos contables y de auditoria (Accounting and Audit Issues)