A more coherent European wide [sic] legal language, by Viola Heutger, of the University of Utrecht, is an online paper (PDF or html) I found through DORES, whose latest set of new publications relating to language and law has just appeared. It doesn’t concentrate, as one might have expected, on the common law – civil law divide.
bq. The German formalistic Civil Law Codification is largely unreadable as far as a non-German lawyer is concerned. Without any special indication as to the use of terminology this codification can rarely be understood. If we remain with the German language we must realize that with a knowledge of German legal language the other German-speaking legal systems of Switzerland and Austria or not automatically accessible (Grossfeld, 180). Very simple terms have different meanings. When a German speaks of Besitz, he means factual possession. However, an Austrian lawyer understands Besitz as the factual possession including the animus domini. What a German understands under Besitz, is for an Austrian Innehabung. So even German speaking lawyers from Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein and Switzerland will not understand automatically each others concept-based legal terminology. It cannot be expected e.g. that the German knows what is meant by the Austrian terms of a Präsenzdiener or a Landeshauptmann, a Aufsandungsurkunde or a Superädifikat.
I imagine the varying meaning of Besitz is more of a problem than the last four terms.
The article and bibliography contain some useful links.