Our Approach

Our Approach

Why a Trilingual Civil Code?
The Translation

Why a Trilingual Civil Code?

A trilingual edition of the French Civil Code is unprecedented. For the first time, this universal reference for continental law is accessible in both English and Arabic. This publication also serves as a gateway to the civil law for common law practitioners, thanks to its selected terminology and its introductory notes .

Current as of 1 July 2019, this edition of the trilingual Civil Code provides legal experts from around the world with the latest advances in the French Civil Code, such as the reforms in contract law.

The very first French-English-Arabic edition of the French Civil Code is the result of a twofold approach that we have taken to improve exchanges between English-speaking, Arab-speaking and French-speaking jurists.

First, it results from an academic choice. Core branches of civil law are presented in the form of introductory notes written by leading specialists. The provisions of the Civil Code and accompanying comments are up to date as of 1 July 2019. juillet 2019.

Secondly, this volume is the product of an editorial policy shaped by the terms chosen to represent French law. In accordance with the technique adopted in an increasing number of translations of French law, this Civil Code uses continental law terminology that relays the spirit of civil law and allows common law practitioners to master its specificities.

The trilingual Civil Code is:

  • The first book to give access to the entire French Civil Code in English and Arabic.
  • A guide including 10 introductory notes in both English and Arabic distributed between provisions of the Civil Code.
  • Conceived and produced by academics, whose aim is to introduce the French Civil Code to non-French-speaking readers with no prior background in the continental legal tradition.

The Translation

When there were two possible English translations of a French civil law notion, the term that any civil lawyer would recognise most easily, whether visually or aurally, and whether he speaks Italian, Spanish or Portuguese, was chosen.

For example:

  • The translation of “obligation solidaire” by "joint and several obligations" has been dismissed, in favour of "solidary obligation" considered closer to the Italian "obbligazione solidale", the Spanish "obligación solidaria", and the Portuguese "obrigação solidária".
  • The translators chose not to translate “fiducie” by "trust", opting instead for "fiducia", familiar to legal historians.
  • For the same reasons, the choice of the English translation of “compensation” fell on "compensation" rather than "set-off" .

However, this visual and aural choice did not always result in favouring Louisianan terminology over words familiar to a common lawyer .

For example, the translators considered the French “hypothèque” to be a "hypothec" and not a "mortgage". Whereas the term "hypothec" is preferred in Jersey and Scotland, “hypothèque” translates as "mortgage" in Louisiana (Art. 3278 Louisiana Civil Code).

The English translation strategy applied to this work should therefore be clearly explained. This approach is essential for any legal translator who is used to the idea that « le mot juste n’est pas juste un mot » (the right word is not just a word).

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