At both conferences we were recommended to look at the EU drafting guidelines: Joint practical guide of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission for persons involved in the drafting of legislation within the Community institutions . As Eleanor Sharpston, the UK Advocate General, said today with a smile, who could possibly object to the following advice?
1.1 The drafting of a legislative act must be: clear, easy to understand and unambiguous; simple, concise, containing no unnecessary elements; precise, leaving no uncertainty in the mind of the reader. ... 1.4.1. The author should attempt to reduce the legislative intention to simple terms, in order to be able to express it simply. In so far as possible, everyday language should be used. Where necessary, clarity of expression should take precedence over felicity of style. For example, the use of synonyms and different expressions to convey the same idea should be avoided ... 6.The terminology used in a given act shall be consistent both internally and with acts already in force, especially in the same field. Identical concepts shall be expressed in the same terms, as far as possible without departing from their meaning in ordinary, legal or technical language.
Some of the German lawyers I translate for might consider that last point. Why define terms when you aren't going to stick to them? In fact EU legislation is first drafted in English nowadays, often by non-lawyers whose native tongue is not English. The 'translations' into the other Community languages count as equal originals, even if the country is one, like Slovenia, which wasn't a Member State at the date of the drafting. There is a nice section on the problems of multilingual drafting, concluding with the following:
5.5. Finally, two essentially practical comments must be made as to the relationship between the original text and translations of it. 5.5.1 ...Zum vollständigen Artikel