From Bleak House to Marilyn Monroe – Miriam Bianco writes:

On 16th April 2016, Yorkshire Translators’ Network held its third legal workshop in York run by solicitor, David Hutchins on the topic of Company and Intellectual Property Law. A multitude of translators and newbies had gathered from across the region, and many interesting discussions – sparked by a motley range of questions and answers (and a few raised eyebrows) – were had, both during the workshop and in the café-bar afterwards.

Have you ever wondered about the differences between ‘void’ and ‘voidable contracts’? Or why the courts now talk of ‘claimants’ and not ‘plaintiffs’? Are a ‘sole trader’ and a ‘sole practitioner’ the same thing? Who was Right Honourable Lord Wolff … (and does he matter?) Heard of the Plain English campaign – thought you knew all about it…? How many types of ‘equity’ are there? Have you ever thought about the number of prosecutions for insider trading in the UK? (Well, why would you?)

If you’d like to know the answer to these and many other legal questions, this training was your chance. Alternatively or additionally, the anecdotes and stories sprinkled throughout the workshop were both funny and enlightening, giving much food for thought: from references to Enron to Dicken’s Bleak House, from Marilyn Monroe to Michael Douglas, from Ted Heath to Michael Gove.

The day provided a whirlwind tour of many of the important legal concepts and their applications in England. Legal terms were presented: there were affidavits and debentures, for example, injunctions and restraining orders, damages, indemnities and statements of truth, all used in legal English today. The complexities in this field are noteworthy: from apparently simple concepts of corporate personality and company constitutions to agency, floating charges and independent directors in company law to beneficial ownerships and the integrity right. The nuances of language were also plentiful, from disclosure, partnerships, preferences and WAGS, to Latinates: misfeasance.

There were reams of notes, typifying, of course, the Articles of Law, full of explanations and legalese. Documents on The Terminology of Companies, Company Law and other Business Structures, and Articles of Association, Property and Intellectual Property, and Patents were provided, some for reference, since, even at breakneck speed, there simply wasn’t enough time to go through all of them.  David did a brilliant job of navigating through them for the participants, with examples and translating the meaning of legal language into layman’s terms. Such insights prove invaluable for the legal translator seeking equivalence when there isn’t much and then finding solutions, the actual terms that will be used in the translation of different legal systems (from common law to civil codes) whether in Germany, Italy, France or elsewhere. A few faux amis were mentioned: magistrate, tribunal and jurisprudence.

For anyone new to this specialism, the workshop provided a fascinating introduction to law and business, and their current permutations in today’s political environment. For the experienced, the clarification on terminology and detailed explanations of what things mean and why, would have been undoubtedly useful too. For those avidly curious in-betweeners – explorers trying to find out and understand more about the language, wealth and power of the legal profession – this provided through a superb and entertaining introduction to the politics of law and business, or the law of politics and business. Suffice it to say that, for aspiring and established legal translators, this will remain a serious training option for their CPD.

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