Strange Laws / Merkwürdige Gesetze

It’s Spiegel again, getting its knickers in a twist about ‘strange British laws’, a book by Nigel Cawthorne that’s actually been around for a while.

bq. Cawthorne ist Großbritanniens Experte, wenn es um die merkwürdigsten Gesetze des Landes geht. Im November vergangenen Jahres veröffentlichte er sein 266 Seiten starkes Werk “The Strange Laws of Old England”, in dem er auf süffisante Weise die Possen der britischen Gesetzgebung beschreibt.

Make that ‘September vorvergangenen Jahres’. And as for Cawthorne being an expert on Britain’s laws, he is also an expert on:
the world’s greatest serial killers
sex lives of Hollywood goddesses (whatever they are)
the curious cures of old England
sex lives of the kings and queens of England
sex lives of the great dictators
sex lives of the popes (watch out, Benedict)
history of pirates: blood and thunder on the high seas
and that probably isn’t all

For example, it’s presented as an exciting new find that people aren’t allowed to die in the Palace of Westminster.

bq. “Soweit ich weiß, ist dort bisher noch niemand gestorben, aber, wenn doch, wurde vielleicht der Fall auch gar nicht erfasst. Schließlich gibt es im Parlament theoretisch diesen Fall gar nicht.”

I think people most certainly have died there, and the street outside has been recorded as the place of death.

bq. In den vergangenen 40 Jahren wurden bereits 2000 Gesetze gestrichen, aber es gibt immer noch 4000 nationale, 11.000 lokale und 13.000 private Rechtsprechungen, die gültig sind.


bq. Kevin Martin, Vorsitzender der britischen Rechtsgesellschaft, ärgert das schon lange. Er fordert, dass sich endlich etwas tut.

Die britische Rechtsgesellschaft? That sounds impressive. Could they mean the Law Society? If to be translated, perhaps another term might suggest itself, like Anwaltsverein (and yes, keen commenters, I am aware that barristers have their own).

Thanks to Herbert on an ITI list.

3 thoughts on “Strange Laws / Merkwürdige Gesetze

  1. This story was also carried in the Wiener Zeitung on Wed. the 8th March. How students at the Juridicum in Vienna are reacting is puzzling me. One asked me: surely pre-1800 Eng. laws are unenforceable and unratifiable by Brit. Parliament? How do judges make these anachronistic laws square with the case law doctrine of stare decisis – are they allowed to cite them in their judgments?

  2. I wonder what they think of the alterations made to German and Austrian law in the Third Reich that are still on the statute book. Do they think they’re unenforceable?

  3. Possibly, though few in Au would have come across what insurance translators must come across all the time – the 1911 Reichsversicherungsgesetz für Angestellte (Reich Insurance Act for White-Collar Workers) from Germany and pre-dating the First World War.

    I can’t see a German/Austrian/Swiss tradition of laws falling into ‘desuetude’ either. My understanding of ‘positivistic’ codified laws runs quite contrary to such an angle.

    This website makes clear the Eng. Common Law’s dislike of such a doctrine, except when it comes to scrapping pre-1707 Scottish Parliament statutes.

    In law, desuetude (from the French word désuet, outdated) is a doctrine that … The doctrine of desuetude is not favoured in the common law tradition. …

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