German Civil Code in English/BGB auf Englisch online

The Bundesjustizministerium has put an English translation of the German Civil Code online. It was done by Langenscheidt ├ťbersetzungsservice.

The same provisos apply as in the last entry with reference to translations of the Criminal Code!

I wonder if I can agree with Prof. Dr. Ulrich Noacks description of this translation as ‘official’. People are always asking for official or standard translations of statutes. But I prefer to avoid the term.

There is already a translation online at the German Law Archive of the new parts, mainly Book Two. That has the great advantage of having the German and English on the same page.

4 thoughts on “German Civil Code in English/BGB auf Englisch online

  1. I would have thought that the translation would only be “official” if liability for its accuracy were to be accepted by by the rightsholder, i.e. the translation could be relied on by a court of law.

    Perhaps this has something to do with the widespread belief in Germany that if something is published by a public-sector agency it’s “official”, and specifically that any translations published by public-sector agencies are also “official” (and somehow automatically “correct”).

    I’ll have a look at the translation when I have some time to spare and see how it compares with the HGB Book III translation in Deutsches Bilanzrecht/German Accounting Legislation.

  2. Looking at the index, my eye was irresistibly drawn to Section 46: ‘Devolution {of association assets} on the treasury’.

    I reckon every part of it is wrong:
    1. the term devolution instead of forfeiture
    2. the prep: on instead of to
    3. treasury with a small ‘t’, absurdly suggesting that a co.’s assets reverts back to its treasury e.g. ord. shares are redeemed to become treasury shares and are not forfeit to the Revenue.

    Yes, this is a fine example of an ‘official’ translation.

  3. This is most certainly not an official translation, so be careful what you say. I’ll take you up on this one, but on the whole I think everyone has to make up their own mind. I would not be inclined to rely on any translation of a statute.One of your problems is how far terminology is required to be standardized. The BGB is a late 19th-century text with an extremely stylized use of vocabulary and actually I think impossible to translate satisfactorily in the ‘normal’ way – it needs footnotes, and the English vocabulary should be more varied, but perhaps with hyperlinks or German terms in brackets indicating the parallels (after all, all these terms relating to Vereine have a wider application, and of course the whole of Book 1 has to match the later Books).

    1. Anfallen is close to ‘accrue’ in syntactic function, whereas forfeit requires a person as subject. Thus, even if it seemed appropriate, which is moot, it doesn’t work well here. You also mention ‘are forfeit to’, which might be used, if you like it, but doesn’t work in all instances of Anfall in the BGB, hence the problem: should one standardize terminology or not, and if so, how far?

    2. Incorrect: ‘devolve’ as an intransitive verb takes ‘on’, but as a transitive verb ‘to’. It’s intransitive here.

    3. There are arguments for and against capitalizing treasury here. But either way, I don’t think there’s a chance of confusion with treasury shares, and that not only because a Verein doesn’t have shares of that kind.

  4. Official translation was Prof. Noack’s tag – not mine.

    Though you, Margaret, have refuted my points well, I will leave it to other contributors to decide whether ‘Devolution on the treasury’ as a free-standing heading and with a clumsy preposition – Google hits show devolve as an intranstive verb can take ‘to’ – makes any sense.

    Believing in a creative and not standardised approach, I suggest that ‘Revenue taking bona vacantia’, albeit a Latin phrase, would immediately make more sense e.g. to an Anglo-Am. lawyer.

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