Accordingly, mutatis mutandis, entsprechend, sinngemäß

Vorbemerkung auf Deutsch: kennt jemand ein Wörterbuch (nur deutsch) oder Buch über das Aufsetzen von Gesetzesentwürfen, wo die Bedeutung von entsprechend und sinngemäß besprochen wird?

How to translate entsprechend or sinngemäß in German statutes.
I will approach this in a number of stages:
1 The short answer (my current opinion)
2. Background of the problem
3. The problem with accordingly
4. The meaning of entsprechend and sinngemäß in German legislation
5. The Eichmann trial
6. Bilingual legal dictionaries

1. The short answer
In BE, use with the necessary modifications
In AmE, possibly analogously.

|entsprechend, sinngemäß|with the necessary modifications BE|
||mutatis mutandis (archaic)|
||analogously AmE|

For support for this, read on!

Does anyone know any dictionary or book on drafting or reading statutes that discusses any of these terms in German or English? The opinion of a German draftsman would be welcome.

2. Background
This question has come up for the third time in the past year or so. The latest question was: can we use accordingly, which is common in BE statutes? I am very grateful to two anonymous Parliamentary draftsmen contacted via the Forensic Linguistics list and someone else who has been involved with drafting in the past.

Here are the main words/phrases involved in the discussion:
mutatis mutandis
with the necessary modifications
with the necessary changes

3. The problem with accordingly

Entsprechend can often be translated in general texts using accordingly or correspondingly. But its meaning is different in legal texts (mutatis mutandis – see below for more details) and accordingly doesn’t have that meaning.

However, accordingly is frequently used in British statutes. So I tried to find parliamentary draftsmen. I was lucky in that I had help and received three replies (forwarded on anonymously).Here’s the first reply from a parliamentary draftsman:

“Accordingly” is used to indicate one or more consequences of a general proposition already enunciated. Strictly it is never necessary but if the particular consequence is particularly important it may be helpful to spell it out. The “accordingly” is intended to prevent the argument that if it was necessary to spell out this consequence the general proposition must be narrower.

If the effect of the general proposition is that a regime applying to X is to apply also to Y you may also find “with the necessary modifications”. This is a different thought. This form of words is used where the regime does not fit the new case precisely but it is pretty obvious what the adaptations are (and it would be tiresome to set them all out). The reader is invited to do the job himself. The expression “mutatis mutandis” is hardly ever used in UK legislation (one occurrence in the last 30 years), but the meaning is the same.

and here the second:

I suppose if you were trying to render the (rather superfluous) “accordingly” into German, it might be better to use a term with a meaning closer to “therefore”.

The third (as reported to me by a third party!) was vaguer:

He … said “shall apply accordingly” is OK in certain circumstances, particularly if the thing to be applied is very general (or large, e.g. an entire part of an Act). For the more specific usage of e.g. “subsections (2) and (3) above”, he was quite taken by “with the necessary changes where applicable”, which he said had the virtue of being absolutely understandable. He went on to say, though, that it sounded too much like “plain English” to be actually usable in legislation (!).

(I’’m not sure that where applicable adds anything to with the necessary changes.)

4. What do entsprechend and sinngemäß mean in German legislation?

This is the first problem in discussions on this point: many people have no idea that the words have a different meaning in statutes from their meaning in everyday general use.

We have to look at examples. Here are a few Google results for
entsprechend Gesetz

Artikel I … 141 Satz 1 des Patentgesetzes ist entsprechend anzuwenden.
2 bis 5 der Bundesrechtsanwaltsordnung gilt entsprechend.
Das Gesetz über Gebühren und Beiträge vom 22. Mai 1957 (GVB1. S.
516) gilt in der jeweils geltenden Fassung entsprechend.
§ 19 findet entsprechend Anwendung.

An example with more context:

Gesetz zur digitalen Signatur

§ 5
Vergabe von qualifizierten Zertifikaten

§ 9
Qualifizierte Zeitstempel
Stellt ein Zertifizierungsdiensteanbieter qualifizierte Zeitstempel aus, so gilt § 5 Abs. 5 entsprechend.

In this case, gilt entsprechend means that if there is a qualifizierte Zeitstempel, § 5 shall apply with the necessary changes, that is, read § 5 but instead of qualifiziertes Zertifikat read qualifizierte Zeitstempel.

§ 5 (1) Der Zertifizierungsdiensteanbieter hat Personen, die ein qualifiziertes Zertifikat beantragen, zuverlässig zu identifizieren. Er hat die Zuordnung eines Signaturprüfschlüssels zu einer identifizierten Person durch ein qualifiziertes Zertifikat zu bestätigen und dieses jederzeit für jeden über öffentlich erreichbare Kommunikationsverbindungen nachprüfbar und abrufbar zu halten. Ein qualifiziertes Zertifikat darf nur mit Zustimmung des Signaturschlüssel-Inhabers abrufbar gehalten werden.


§ 5 (1) Der Zertifizierungsdiensteanbieter hat Personen, die eine qualifizierte Zeitstempel beantragen, zuverlässig zu identifizieren. Er hat die Zuordnung eines Signaturprüfschlüssels zu einer identifizierten Person durch eine qualifizierte Zeitstempel zu bestätigen und dieses jederzeit für jeden über öffentlich erreichbare Kommunikationsverbindungen nachprüfbar und abrufbar zu halten. Eine qualifizierte Zeitstempel darf nur mit Zustimmung des Signaturschlüssel-Inhabers abrufbar gehalten werden.

I hope I made the changes correctly, but you get the general idea.

Google search for
sinngemäß Gesetz

(1) Für das Bußgeldverfahren gelten, soweit dieses Gesetz nichts anderes bestimmt, sinngemäß die Vorschriften der allgemeinen Gesetze über das Strafverfahren, namentlich der Strafprozeßordnung, des Gerichtsverfassungsgesetzes und des Jugendgerichtsgesetzes.

Bestimmungen der §§ 9 und 12 sind sinngemäß anzuwenden
121 der Abgabenordnung gilt sinngemäß.

This is the same as entsprechend. The idea behind sinngemäß is ‚when applying § X to a new situation, follow the meaning and not the letter of the statute.

(It’s possible that sinngemäß is wider and looser than entsprechend, but I haven’t been able to confirm this).

5. The Eichmann trial
The question of entsprechend, sinngemäß and accordingly came up in the Eichmann trial, but the discussion is not conclusive.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I now submit pages 2107-2109 of the Reichgesetzblatt of 30 October 1939. This is an order introducing special jurisdiction in criminal matters for members of the SS and for members of police units on special duty (Verordnung ueber eine Sondergerichtsbarkeit in Strafsachen fuer Angehoerige der SS und fuer die Angehoerigen der Polizeiverbaende bei besonderem Einsatz) dated 17 October 1939. I draw the attention of the Court in particular to paragraph 3 on the first page, which says: “For the special jurisdiction, the provisions of the Militaerstrafgesetzbuch (Military Criminal Law Book) and the Militaerstrafgerichtsordnung (Military Criminal Procedure Regulations) are to be applied.”

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, may I point to one word which the interpreter omitted, but this may cause confusion: It says here: “sinngemaess Anwendung finden” (be applied mutatis mutandis), and this is in contrast to the ordinary usage in the laws, where it says: “es ist entsprechend anzuwenden” (it is to be applied accordingly). “Entsprechend” means “exactly,” according to the stipulations of the other laws. Here, however, it says only “sinngemaess,” and the intention may be different in this case.

Presiding Judge: Mutatis mutandis would be a correct translation, or does mutatis mutandis mean “entsprechend”?

Dr. Servatius: Yes, this is a technical usage in German legal language. “Entsprechend” is the usual expression. “Entsprechend” is to be found both in the civil code and in the criminal code. Here, however, this expression is avoided, and it says “sinngemaess.” Hence, there is wide scope for a different application.

Presiding Judge: More flexible. Have these laws been translated, Mr. Bar-Or?

State Attorney Bar-Or: No, we did not translate them. But I must say that I am grateful to the interpreter, who seems to have anticipated what I was going to say. As a matter of fact, I have not yet come to this word “sinngemaess,” and I need not now read out the rest, except to say that, with respect to all other matters, the provisions of the criminal code are applicable to the members of the SS and the police units, too.

6. Bilingual legal dictionaries (not complete extracts):

entsprechend (übereinstimmend, gemäß) in compliance with, in conformity with, corresponding to; accordingly; (sinngemäß) mutatis mutandis; (analog) analogous; (jeweilig) respective(ly); (zugehörig) pertinent
entsprechende Anwendung finden to apply mutatis mutandis
entsprechende Mitteilung notice to that effect; appropriate notice
entsprechende Mittel adequate means
entsprechende Unterlagen pertinent (or appropriate) data
Ihrem Auftrag entsprechend according (or pursuant) to your order
dem Gesetz entsprechend according (or pursuant) to the law
§ 10 gilt entsprechend section 10 shall apply mutatis mutandis (or analogously)

sinngemäß corresponding(ly); analogous(ly)
sinngemäße Anwendung finden to apply mutatis mutandis
§ 10 gilt sinngemäß section 10 shall apply correspondingly

Social Assistance Act (SAA) 110/96 with later amendments
Sect. 4. The income basis, cf. section 3, shall consist of personal income plus positive capital income as used to calculate income tax pursuant to § 7 of the Personal Taxation Act, but before the basic allowance and deduction for basic amount mentioned therein, and share income, which is taxed pursuant to § 8a, section 2, of the Personal Taxation Act. The rules in § 54, sections 3 and 4, shall apply analogously.

entsprechend: adj/adv in accordance with, in conformity with, corresponding, appropriate, analogous, mutatis mutandis; equivalent, akin, as the case may be
sinngemäß: adj/adv according(ly), analogous(ly), mutatis mutandis;

von Beseler/Jacobs-Wüstefeld
entsprechend: 1 adj. corresponding; correspondent; answerable; adequate, appropriate; parallel; similar; equal; equivalent; analogous, analogical; commensurate; respective; relevant, competent; (einander ~) correlative; (Verhältnis) proportional, proportionate;
2. adv. accordingly; correspondingly; suitably; proportionately;
3. prp in accordance with; according to; corresponding to; pursuant to; in pursuance of
~ anwenden/Anwendung finden to apply corresponginly (analogously, (Lat) mutatis mutandis)

Lister/Veth does not have either term, nor does Köbler (1st ed.)

4 thoughts on “Accordingly, mutatis mutandis, entsprechend, sinngemäß

  1. Sorry for the off topic comment, but I was wondering if you welcome comments from English learners.

    I’m an English teacher compiling a list of blogs that would welcome
    comments from adult ESL students. I see that you welcome comments, but does
    that include comments from people who don’t have very accurate English?

    If you want comments from ESL students, I’ll add your site to the directory (you’ll get a free permanent PR 4 link and a temporary PR 5) at “Blogs for learning English + teaching English”.

  2. No problem about off topic – but I wonder if your students would really be interested in this site. It is mainly about legal translation, so sometimes there are entries on German or English. Of course, I don’t mind comments whoever they’re from. But perhaps it would be better not to link me permanently, because I tend to have just a few very specialized comments. There is rarely a real discussion here. You want something where there’s lots of friendly discussion going on.
    You could look at Armin’s list of bloggers abroad – not all native speakers but a lot of discussion of countries people live in:
    (The URLs keep disappearing, although I have tried them with and without html. Armin is Ministry of Propaganda, in the right-hand column under Weblog collections. Shiokadelicious can be found through Google and has a lot of further foodie links).
    Or Shiokadelicious, a Singapore (I think) blogger, Renee Kho, on food.

  3. Note to myself: now I have read a judgment where ‘analog’ is used, and that is obviously ‘analogously’ or ‘by analogy’:

    >>Damit fehlt es an allen sachlichen Voraussetzungen, die einschlägigen für Handelsteilnehmer im Sinne des BörsG entwickelten Rechtsvorschriften analog anzuwenden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.