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Sledgehead

Logic / English Language Grads & Lawyers

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Just wading through a little European legislation - like you do - , and continue to be struck by the language used. I wonder whether somebody with a law / linguist background might be able to throw a little light on something that is frustrating me. Take the following:

2. This Directive shall apply to biocidal products as

defined in Article 2(1)(a) but shall exclude products that

are defined or within the scope of the following

instruments for the purposes of these Directives:

source : Directive 98/8/EC

My science / software engineering background tells me that this conditional expression can be broken in two, thus:

This Directive excludes products that are defined AND / OR

This Directive excludes products within the scope of the following instruments

My point here is that, despite the excessively contorted language used in such "instruments", they appear to allow exemption from the laws set out within them by a vague act of definition (my bold bit) in an un-named instrument, by anybody or anything.

Can anyone tell me why my interpretation of this paragraph is technically wrong?

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I think the expertise you really need is in the language in which that clause was originally written. Poor translation would be my guess as to the root of this problem. FWIW, my interpretation is as follows:

This Directive shall apply to biocidal products as defined in Article 2(1)(a)

UNLESS

those products are explicitly defined by, or fall within the scope of instruments A, B, C etc.

AND

they are only explicitly defined by or fall within the scope of instruments A, B, C etc. for the purposes of directives D, E, F etc.

But you're right: the wording is sloppy and ambiguous. I suspect they need to sack the translator and get someone else to start again. Given that the EU operates an unofficial but official ban on employing native English speakers (i.e. most EU documents in English are translated by someone for whom the source language is their native one and English is learnt), this doesn't surprise me at all.

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... FWIW, my interpretation is as follows:

This Directive shall apply to biocidal products as defined in Article 2(1)(a)

UNLESS

those products are explicitly defined by, or fall within the scope of instruments A, B, C etc.

AND

they are only explicitly defined by or fall within the scope of instruments A, B, C etc. for the purposes of directives D, E, F etc.

Quite. All they needed was that tiny little word.

But you're right: the wording is sloppy and ambiguous.

Seriously, I am so glad to hear you say that. Reading EU legislation has at times made me wonder whether I need a prion test. I've even taken a couple of mins to check whether my sudoku times have gone up! :blink::(

I suspect they need to sack the translator and get someone else to start again. Given that the EU operates an unofficial but official ban on employing native English speakers (i.e. most EU documents in English are translated by someone for whom the source language is their native one and English is learnt), this doesn't surprise me at all.

That explains a good deal of what I have encountered. Must say that at first I suspected some kind of sinister conspiracy. Now I'm leaning towards a theory of institutionalised anarchy! :D

Cheers again.

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Google produces this webpage, which I think contains the original documents. Among other things, you can ask for it to show you versions in two languages at once.

In French you get

La présente directive s'applique aux produits biocides définis à l'article 2, paragraphe 1, point a), mais exclut les produits qui sont définis ou entrent dans le champ d'application des directives suivantes aux fins desdites directives

which I think is pretty much identical to the English version (and similarly meaningless).

The German version (and I'm on really shaky ground here) says

Diese Richtlinie gilt für Biozid-Produkte gemäß Artikel 2 Absatz 1 Buchstabe a), jedoch nicht für Produkte, die in den folgenden Richtlinien definiert sind oder für die Zwecke dieser Richtlinien in den Anwendungsbereich dieser Richtlinien fallen

and I think that means "These guidelines hold for biocidal products in accordance with Article blah blah blah, but not for products which are defined in the following guidelines, or which, for the purposes of these guidelines, fall into the areas of application of these guidelines: ..." (Maybe replace "guidelines" with "directive" or "standards" or something.)

Looks like there are some words missing in the English and French versions.

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When I meet an English major, I am usually reminding them that I wanted regular, and not diet coke in my cocktail, or that they should be double bagging my heavy items at the checkout. An engineers view...

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The German version (and I'm on really shaky ground here) says

and I think that means "These guidelines hold for biocidal products in accordance with Article blah blah blah, but not for products which are defined in the following guidelines, or which, for the purposes of these guidelines, fall into the areas of application of these guidelines: ..." (Maybe replace "guidelines" with "directive" or "standards" or something.)

Looks like there are some words missing in the English and French versions.

Hmmm, now you've got me in conspiracy theory mode again :D

Joking aside, these are pretty interesting points you raise. Maybe a note to Daniel Hannan is in order?

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Hmmm, now you've got me in conspiracy theory mode again :D

Joking aside, these are pretty interesting points you raise. Maybe a note to Daniel Hannan is in order?

There's a choice of 22 languages. If we can get enough people together we can work out which countries get the real legislation and which ones get the misleading version.

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The master of the rolls gave a speech recently about open justice.

He criticised some judgments coming out of Luxembourg and Strasbourg for their opacity, blandness, inconsistency. But I think he hit home with a criticism of Westminster - too much legislation, incompetently drafted.

Link here, if you're interested:

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/media/speeches/2011/mr-speech-jsb-annual-lecture-16032011

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The German version makes significantly more sense. The 'and' in the English and French versions becomes an 'or' in the German one, which means we then have something like:

This Directive [Richtlinie] shall apply to biocidal products as defined in Article 2(1)(a)

BUT

not products that are explicitly defined by, or fall within the scope of instruments [Anwendungsbereich] blah blah blah

UNLESS

they [the biocidal products] only fall within the scope of instruments [Anwendungsbereich] blah blah blah in order to conform with these directives [Richtlinien] blah blah.

Have the Eurocrats cloned Franz Kafka (possiby by using products defined in Article 2(1)(a)?!) many times over to write this stuff?

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Oh my life; what the hell is one to do if one actually wants to perform some science and develop a new product??

I read recently that gaining marketing approval for a new pesticide would cost one in excess of £100k, just to cover the EU's costs of approval. And although they make it clear that they will, whatever it takes, make sure all their costs are covered, they will then charge you 0.75% of sales per annum, just to keep you legally approved. This is in addition to all your development costs, design costs, marketing costs, trials costs, materials costs, manufacturing costs, legal costs ... and by the time you've paid all that lot, there's another cost you're sure to need: financing costs.

The fact is whatever you want to make, if that product has a real benefit, and you want to market it as such, you are going to get royally screwed for your efforts. Best just liquidise some food with a quart of bog-standard moisturiser and flog the jollop in Boots - like every other f@cker and her auntie.

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I read recently that gaining marketing approval for a new pesticide would cost one in excess of £100k, just to cover the EU's costs of approval. And although they make it clear that they will, whatever it takes, make sure all their costs are covered, they will then charge you 0.75% of sales per annum, just to keep you legally approved. This is in addition to all your development costs, design costs, marketing costs, trials costs, materials costs, manufacturing costs, legal costs ... and by the time you've paid all that lot, there's another cost you're sure to need: financing costs.

Which presumably explains, at least in part, why last year, I bought a load of LED light bulbs to kit out my entire flat direct from China via Ebay for £40, whereas to buy bulbs from a similar spec from UK suppliers would leave you with not much change from £200.

I ended up fighting with Euro-stupidity too, specfifically the 2001 European Union Copyright Directive, a couple of years ago. I and a couple of colleagues got a small amount of funding to put together a website containing a multimedia resource (digitised film footage, audio recordings, photographs and scanned documents with translations viewable side-by-side) on Danish politics and neutrality during World War I (i.e. how the Danish government sought to avoid being dragged into the war, and life in southern Denmark during the conflict, especially around the Schleswig-Holstein border). The 2001 EU Copyright Directive introduced a duration of copyright principle whereby for moving images it's 70 years after the first public screening or the filmmaker dies, whatever is later. The definition of 'filmmaker' is often problematic, too, say the least (being based on job titles that didn't really exist until the late 1920s). So, you guessed it, someone making a film in 1914 who is in his 20s at the time and doesn't die until, say, the 1980s ... the footage will remain in copyright until the 2050s. For audio recordings and broadcasts they tried to introduce the same thing, but some member states, us included, refused to enact that bit (we're still 50 years from the date of broadcast or publication, despite fierce lobbying from the record industry). In the end the legal costs of covering ourselves against action resulting from the use of orphan works would have been so fearsome that we had to publish it as a DVD-ROM, not a website, and by an American university press. Believe it or not, even their copyright law is saner than the EU's where dealing with orphan works is concerned, and the UP's lawyer was of the opinion that the EU directive is so poorly and ambiguously designed that any attempt to enforce its orphan works provisions through an American court using the Berne Convention would be doomed to failure.

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Which presumably explains, at least in part, why last year, I bought a load of LED light bulbs to kit out my entire flat direct from China via Ebay for £40, whereas to buy bulbs from a similar spec from UK suppliers would leave you with not much change from £200.

...

it would not surprise me if legislation has a sizeable impact. People forget that although labour here is much cheaper, capital equipment means costs can be comparable. Of course, you will need a loan to buy the plant & equipment, so it ain't just the bureaucrats and lawyers, it's the bankers too. Indeed I am fast coming to the conclusion that legislation is the tool used to inflate fixed costs to such an extent that one needs always to employ scale to compensate. And that means investment and consequent debt. The law makers look afer the bankers and the bankers return the favour with lucrative jobs.

I ended up fighting with Euro-stupidity too, .... the UP's lawyer was of the opinion that the EU directive is so poorly and ambiguously designed that any attempt to enforce its orphan works provisions through an American court using the Berne Convention would be doomed to failure.

I guessed you must have had the odd run-in, and what a remarkable assertion from the lawyer. Still, I see in today's Telegraph that we will all be required to stump up a further £400 towards the euro odyssey. Money well spent, I'm sure. <_<

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On the LED lightbulbs issue, I probably didn't express my point as I'd meant to. The bulbs probably would have come from the same factory in China whoever I'd actually bought them from. However, buying them direct from the factory through Ebay (plus the quid or two Paypal charged for the money transfer and the postage) circumvented all the extra costs of running a business out of an EU country - of which regulatory costs such as the one you discovered in relation to pesticides are one. My LED light bulbs are not approved under any EU directive, and unless the EU decides to intercept each and every item of post from a non-EU country into one, I can't see how they're ever going to prevent people like me from circumventing their regulations by simpy buying from outside - at least if the item is small and light enough not to attract prohibitive shipping charges.

On the EU law issue, my point is that the courts in at least one US state take the view that the 2001 Copyright Directive is so sloppily worded as to negate an international agreement (the Berne Convention) and thus be invalid there. And the Americans are well known to have the most draconian intellectual property laws in the world!

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Which presumably explains, at least in part, why last year, I bought a load of LED light bulbs to kit out my entire flat direct from China via Ebay for £40, whereas to buy bulbs from a similar spec from UK suppliers would leave you with not much change from £200.

I ended up fighting with Euro-stupidity too, specfifically the 2001 European Union Copyright Directive, a couple of years ago. I and a couple of colleagues got a small amount of funding to put together a website containing a multimedia resource (digitised film footage, audio recordings, photographs and scanned documents with translations viewable side-by-side) on Danish politics and neutrality during World War I (i.e. how the Danish government sought to avoid being dragged into the war, and life in southern Denmark during the conflict, especially around the Schleswig-Holstein border). The 2001 EU Copyright Directive introduced a duration of copyright principle whereby for moving images it's 70 years after the first public screening or the filmmaker dies, whatever is later. The definition of 'filmmaker' is often problematic, too, say the least (being based on job titles that didn't really exist until the late 1920s). So, you guessed it, someone making a film in 1914 who is in his 20s at the time and doesn't die until, say, the 1980s ... the footage will remain in copyright until the 2050s. For audio recordings and broadcasts they tried to introduce the same thing, but some member states, us included, refused to enact that bit (we're still 50 years from the date of broadcast or publication, despite fierce lobbying from the record industry). In the end the legal costs of covering ourselves against action resulting from the use of orphan works would have been so fearsome that we had to publish it as a DVD-ROM, not a website, and by an American university press. Believe it or not, even their copyright law is saner than the EU's where dealing with orphan works is concerned, and the UP's lawyer was of the opinion that the EU directive is so poorly and ambiguously designed that any attempt to enforce its orphan works provisions through an American court using the Berne Convention would be doomed to failure.

I don't want to hijack, but I can't access the PM system. The Ayatollah Buggeri - Can I have a chat with you via E-mail?. I can mail you or you can send me a message.

My address is MOD EDIT EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED

Thank you :)

A.

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  • 311 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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