"I realise that some of my criticisms may be mistaken; but to refuse to criticize judgements for fear of being mistaken is to abandon criticism altogether... If any of my criticisms are found to be correct, the cause is served; and if any are found to be incorrect the very process of finding out my mistakes must lead to the discovery of the right reasons, or better reasons than I have been able to give, and the cause is served just as well."

-Mr. HM Seervai, Preface to the 1st ed., Constitutional Law of India.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

100 Translation Errors in Institutional Arbitration Rules

In our latest roundup of Social Science Research Network articles on arbitration, we had stated that the abstract of the article by Isabelle Liger titled "100 Translation Errors in Institutional Arbitration Rules" looked promising. This post is a short review of the article.

The 57-page article is an analysis of errors and inconsistencies in translations of the different institutional arbitration rules. Arbitration rules (Rules) in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, English and French  have been compared and  following errors/ inconsistencies have been noted:
  • Lack of declaration of official version of the Rules
  • Omissions in one or a few versions of the Rules
  • Mistranslations that modify the content of the Rules
  • Differences in interpretations of translation of the Rules
  • Errors in translations that turn an obligation into option and an option into obligation
  • Mistranslations that turn cumulative conditions into alternative conditions
  • Usage of general terms in one version and specific terms in the other
  • Grammatical errors
  • Typos
As a consequence of the discrepancies in the various versions of the Rules, the author apprehends:
"Lawyers in an arbitration case may try to use this situation to the advantage of their clients, by relying on the official version of the rules that would benefit them most. Such leaks in the arbitration system may be favorable to the participants in some arbitration cases, but they could also damage the reputation of arbitration as a valuable dispute resolution mean, by making its proceedings unreliable and confusing."
Articles on this issue of translation errors in arbitration rules are rare. So take note of this.

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