Weekly terminology roundup / Terminologiefragen der Woche

This isn’t a weekly terminology roundup at all, it’s a test to see if I want to do something like this.

What I wonder is, if I read various mailing lists and forums, how far I should acknowledge them. I imagine some want a link, but others want privacy protected. I think I’ll make a list of regular sources, and keep that separate from the list, which would mainly contain my remarks.

The first example is a term that was hard to solve online:

verantwortliche Vernehmung: this term came up on one list in March, but context was lacking and there were no useful replies. Questions on legal terminology should contain context, and even a list of words is a context – there is no such thing as ‘no context’! And they should say if the term is German, Austrian or Swiss, and if the target is the USA, Britain or elsewhere.
This time, on an ITI list, there was a suggestion from someone who knows the police: interview under caution.
Problems here: someone suggested responsible, because there are plenty of ghits on reponsible interrogation. But without knowing what the German means, that is not conclusive. Googling the German term did not produce a specific definition, nor did my public prosecutor’s book by Heghmanns. But there was plenty of indirect evidence. I found a reference that said you can’t have an erste verantwortliche Vernehmung of a child because the child could not be convicted – which sounds like ‘you can’t caution a child because a child cannot incriminate itself’.

I didn’t pursue it further, but I think it may be a term used in police practice to refer to something defined under a different term in the Code of Criminal Procedure.

AZR: no, this does not stand for Allgemeines Zivilrecht in Revision, but it does refer to Revisionen at the BAG: if it is part of a file number like 2 AZR 754/97 there’s no need to expand it, let alone explain it in a footnote.
(For correction see comments: all these file no. abbreviations are listed in the back of Dieter Meyer, Juristische Fremdwörter, Fachausdrücke und Abkürzungen, which is a small guide to abbreviations for students and very useful – for statutes use Kirchner / Butz, Abkürzungsverzeichnis der Rechtssprache, and in Austria AZR (!), Abkürzungs- und Zitierregeln der österreichischen Rechtssprache und europarechtlicher Rechtsquellen)

legal eagle: a discussion on ProZ came up with: Topjurist, Spitzenjurist, Spitzenanwalt, Rechtsguru and Starjurist

public law can mean öffentliches Recht, but in the context queried it meant a statute that had been passed but had not yet been incorporated into a code – it has the abbreviation PL as a reference. It comes up in the middle of a Wikipedia entry:

A Public Law, or P.L., is designated by the number of the Congress, a hyphen and the order in which the law is enacted. P.L. are later signed into law by the U.S. President.

I wonder if this is another reason why I associate the word law meaning a statute particularly with the USA (see earlier entry).

LATER NOTE (see comments) A public law remains so named even after it is in the Code. Black’s says (inter alia):

Federal public laws are first published in Statutes at Large and are eventually collected by subject in the U.S. Code.

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law says:

bq. an enactment of a legislature that affects the public at large throughout the entire territory (as a state or nation) which is subject to the jurisdiction of the legislature or within a particular subdivision of its jurisdiction.

Kaufmann: In connection with a query on the word Kaufmann, I gather (I should have known this) that the new Austrian Commercial Code has replaced Kaufmann by entrepreneur. The definition is not the same, though. Anyway, here’s a nice English-language reference on the topic from legalweek.com: Central and Eastern Europe: a universal code

The term kaufmann (merchant) has been replaced by unternehmer (entrepreneur) as the main subject of the code. This is more than merely cosmetics. In accordance with the Austrian Consumer Protection Act, the new commercial code defines an entrepreneur broadly as any economic enterprise being performed permanently and independently in an organised manner, even if not aimed at making a profit. This results in the long-overdue harmonisation of the definition of entrepreneur in both the consumer protection and commercial laws. As a consequence, small enterprises now generally fall under the new commercial regime


Of course, this doesn’t mean that even in Austria you can now translate Kaufmann as entrepreneur. It still needs to be merchant.

LATER NOTE: the Yahoo group finanztrans is now having a poll as to how to translate the new Austrian Unternehmensgesetz. The choice is as follows: Austrian Companies Act, Austrian Commercial Code, Austrian Enterprise Act, Austrian Business Code, Austrian Corporation Code, or Austrian Firm Code.

I would prefer Enterprise Code (one’s allowed to suggest one’s own alternative) or (new) Commercial Code.

6 thoughts on “Weekly terminology roundup / Terminologiefragen der Woche

  1. “AZR: yes, this does stand for Allgemeines Zivilrecht in Revision”

    Actually, it doesn’t. Most of these short references german courts use are *not* abbrieviations (at least none that are identifiable). ‘Ns’ e.g. means an appeal in a criminal case, ‘L’ is sequestration.

    ‘AZR’ indeed is a “Revision” – but before the German Federal _Labour_ Court.

  2. But a US federal public law does not cease to be one (a public law) when the president signs it and it is incorporated into the US code. For example, Sarbanes-Oxley will forever be P.L. 107-204; see the text at http://www.sec.gov/about/laws/soa2002.pdf.

    For whatever reason, one public law of 1954 has always been better known by its number, “PL 480”, than by the feel-good name it was given (“Food for Peace”).

  3. So what do they mean? It starts as a bill, it then becomes a law and is registered (for ever) as P.L. XXX, and when the President signs it it becomes an Act? Here’s Wikipedia on the subject, where it looks as if P.L. remains its reference. Or does it mean that Acts that enter Codes lose their P.L.?

    >>The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107-204, 116 Stat. 745, also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 and commonly called SOX or Sarbox; is a United States federal law was signed into law on July 30, 2002 in response to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals including those affecting Enron, Tyco International, Peregrine Systems and WorldCom.

  4. Margaret,

    ich sage meinen neuen Referendaren immer, dass sie sich nicht auf einen Namen festlegen duerfen, denn ein Gesetz kann 5 verschiedene Bezeichnungen tragen, und sie duerfen sich nicht frustrieren lassen.

    Hier erst einmal beispielsweise der Weg von der Bill zum Public Law, welches auch Competes Act (oder besser gesagt: enthaelt) heisst:


    Welcher Namen sich durchsetzt, wird sich im Laufe der Zeit heraussstellen. Die meisten Fundstellen, in Urteilen beispielsweise, verweisen auf (Band) U.S.C. (Paragraph) (Jahr)(Jahr Nachlieferung).

    Im Kartell-, Marken- oder Urheberrecht wird meist der Common Name genannt, also Section 41 Lanham Act, mit dem die USC-Fundstelle genannt wird – wobei der eine Paragraph mit dem anderen nicht uebereinstimmen muss.

    Damit der amerikanische Jurist nicht in Verzweiflung geraet, muss er im ersten Uni-Jahr vier Wochenstunden Legal Research and Writing durchexerzieren. Anschliessend weiss er nicht unbedingt Bescheid, aber er verzeifelt nicht mehr.

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.