Martina Künnecke, English as Common Legal Language: Its Expansion and the Effects on Civil Law and Common Law Lawyers

Martina Künnecke, ‘English as Common Legal Language: Its Expansion and the Effects on Civil Law and Common Law Lawyers’ (2016) 24 European Review of Private Law, Issue 5, pp. 733–757

Abstract

English has become the common language in a globalized legal world. However, the far-reaching consequences of the domination of key areas of the international practice of law by legal English are not yet fully understood and analysed. This article is concerned with an analysis of the expansion of legal English in global legal practice. This area has also been described as the ‘Law Market’, i.e. the area of activities of global lawyers in coping with the regulatory and legal frameworks in which international businesses function.’2 Much of the existing research into legal English as a common language is concerned with the development of legal English as a vehicle language for non-native English speakers in the sense of a lingua franca.3 The discussion is divided into either promoting the use of legal English as global language4 or pointing to its limitations ‘in that its legal terminology is premised on the tools of the (minority) common law system’5. This article aims to assess the interface and dynamics between lawyers using legal English as a common language as well as foreign languages in their legal work. This includes lawyers trained in the common law and/or civil law. Its aim is to gain a better understanding of global lawyering and communication in law and business relationships and to develop strategies for the internationalization of legal education and training in the UK.

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