i.V., i.A., ppa.

The German abbreviations i.V., i.A. and ppa. often cause translators problems. There is no real English equivalent. But even if the terms can’t be translated without a footnote, and a footnote would be overkill, still, the translator may sometimes need to explain what the abbreviations mean, and in some rare cases this will be important.

Robin Stocks has a recent entry quoting a book on the subject.

I wanted this to be the solution to all my problems, but I’m not sure that it is. It’s the first time I’ve seen the use of two signatures at once discussed. I note i.V. is explained as in Vollmacht. It is usually given as in Vertretung, but the meaning of the two phrases is similar.

I have a feeling that no-one will be helped if I publish my latest notes on the subject, but here they are. Has anyone got examples, by the way? A few scans of ends of letters – real ones or from German books on commercial correspondence – would be very helpful.

Some abbreviations used by people in Germany signing letters
i.V. in Vertretung (as agent for)
i.A. im Auftrag (on the instructions of)
ppa. per procura (as a Prokurist)
(gezeichnet)

These abbreviations have legal meanings. They have no equivalent in international correspondence

Normally their legal meaning is not important in a translation
pp.
by
for

Someone suggested on a mailing list:
ppa. Power of attorney (ppa. = per Prokura the signatory is a Prokurist) [this is too weak though]
i.A. Power of representation
i.V. Authorized signatory

So i.A. could be (but never is!) written:
pp. [name] (authorized representative)

and i.V.
pp. [name] (authorized to sign)

9 thoughts on “i.V., i.A., ppa.

  1. Being a Bear of Very Little Brain, I don’t see a salient distinction between “authorized representative” and “authorized to sign”. Am I missing something?

    Yes, I know, useless criticism without any suggestions. *sigh* If I had any ideas, I’d spit ’em out, believe me.

  2. As a German lawyer studying at a US law school I would propose “NAME (as agent)” for both, i.A. and i.V. Reason: The common law (at least the US version) uses the term “agency” for both, the question of transfer of legal power to bind the principal (authorization) and the underlying (contractual) relationship allowing the actual use of the power (often but not always an “Auftrag”). These two concepts are kept strictly seperate in German legal terminology, but as far as the translation of business letters is concerned, I do not see why they should not both be captured by their common law equivalent.

    Same problem with i.V., even though the practice sometimes seems to be a little confused in this respect …

    Procura is a different ballgame. It is a form of legal power that comes with the appointment as a “Prokurist”, the extent of which is standardized by statute (HGB) to protect business partners / third parties. It most closely resembles the concept of “inherent agency powers”. Proposed translation: “Name (as Prokurist, i.e. agent with inherent agency powers [defined by statute])”.as indicated above, the name following the i.V. or i.A. is supposed to be the name of the agent, not the name of the principal (or the agent next higher up in the corporate food chain). So the translation “on the instructions OF” is misleading. Literally i.A. translates as: “[acting] on instructions: Name”.

  3. German lawyer: Point taken, but I did say in the entry that this is not a question of translation, but of sometimes needing to explain the difference to a client. Please note the first paragraph.

    How it is actually translated is normally, as you quite correctly say, not a big issue.

  4. Funny when I read this I don’t have a better understanding of PPA as this was my reason for looking however I am an i.V. and needed to do a course on what it meant to have this in my title.

    In short, I have been empowered by the company to act on their behalf to sign contracts and enter into agreements. I am able to make financial decisions on matters. This is in place in my signature so that the person receiving the correspondence knows he is talking to the correct person with the ability to approve.

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