strafrechtsblogger (Konstantin Stern) has been continuing its series on Englisch für Strafverteidiger – English for criminal defence lawyers. I am sorry to appear to be picking on this, and I did like the post on Der Beschuldigte. There have been 19 posts on English so far – I may have missed some. But when it comes to Beschwerde, I feel my fingers reaching for the keyboard.

Die Beschwerde lässt sich mit complaint sowie grievance übersetzen.

Für das Einlegen der Beschwerde gibt es mehrere Möglichkeiten. Entweder wird es simpel mit to complain übersetzt, oder es wird aus den Verben to lodge, to file oder to make a und dem Substantiv complaint zusammengesetzt. Beispiel: to make a complaint.

One nice thing about these entries is that they are down-to-earth and simple. As soon as I start taking it apart, it will appear complex and confusing – possibly a reason I should never have been a teacher.

But this will not stop me. Still, at the outset, here’s my summary: I would translate Beschwerde as appeal, and if necessary add some more description. The word appeal is used fairly widely in English and will cover Berufung, Revision, Beschwerde and more, although if their specific meaning is important, more detail will be needed.

Now down to brass tacks:

1. Grievance is not appropriate, because it is part of general English, not legal terminology.

2. Here’s a definition of Beschwerde in German.

There are various kinds of Beschwerde, but they are never directed against judgments.

Robbers, Introduction to German Law, has: ‘request for relief from an administraive act; interlocutory appeal in civil proceedings’.

Dietl: Beschwerde 1. (als Rechtsmittel)ë appeal (gegen from)
auf Grund der Beschwerde des (als Rechtsmittel) … on an appeal by …
Das Rechtsmittel der Beschwerde findet gegen solche Entscheidungen statt, durch die ein das Verfahren betreffendes Gesuch zurückgewiesen ist.
“Beschwerde” is an appeal to the higher court from the dismissal of a motion (or application) concerning a procedural issue.

Romain: complaint (injustice, grievance to superior, etc), grievance, request for relief; remonstrance, appeal against an administrative act; interlocutory appeal, appeal from a court order (from interlocutory or final decisions in the form of an order and not judgment)

3. Finally, what is a complaint, in legal terms? The Oxford Dictionary of Law defines it as follows:

1. The document used to start certain types of criminal proceedings in a magistrates’ court, or the process of using such a document to start proceedings. 2. A formal allegation of a crime.

That rules complaint out as a translation of Beschwerde in England and Wales.
In the USA, according to Black’s Ninth, it can also mean ‘the initial pleading that starts a civil action’.