Laws and Acts / Gesetze

It’s puzzled me for many years why so many legal dictionaries translate Gesetz (later addition: in the sense of ‘statute’) as law. The term Act (capital A required) is OK for Britain and the USA both. We use law as a superordinate term for both statutes and delegated legislation. One theory a colleague of mine had was that German lawyers simply think Gesetz means law and so that must be the translation. Another theory is that the procedure for passing a Gesetz in Germany and an Act in the UK are so radically different that never the twain shall meet.

Working Languages reports that we have been saved from a change in EU law terminology that was intended in the constitutional treaty. The intention was to change regulation (Verordnung) and directive (Richtlinie) into law and framework law respectively.

I’m glad I didn’t hear of this earlier. Working Languages discusses the problems of these terms and also the term European law. There is also an excellent link to a House of Lords select committee report on the matter.

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