Law in Belgium

Leuven Travel Blog

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I have often wondered how law works in bilingual countries. In Belgium, all laws are legal in both French and Dutch. For example, the law allowing same sex marriage is paragraph one of article 143 of the Belgian Civil Code (Book I, Title V, Chapter I). It is both Een huwelijk kan worden aangegaan door twee personen van verschillend of van hetzelfde geslacht (Dutch) and Deux personnes de sexe différent ou de même sexe peuvent contracter mariage (French). It is obviously highly desirable for the law to be legal in both languages, but I don't understand how they overcome the practical difficulties. Surely there are many words in French and Dutch for which there is an approximate translation but no exact translation. It is hard enough when law is in a single language and every word and comma gets parsed endlessly, exactly what "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" means is unclear. So surely if the law is legal in two languages sometimes cases will come up in the gray area where an action appears to be legal under one version of the law but not under another?

seraphimkarlien says:
You know I never even considered that problem, it's always been so natural to me to live in a bilingual country. But I think it must rarely cause any problems anyway, otherway it certainly would have been discussed in the media.
Posted on: Apr 26, 2010
Adrian_Liston says:
I did the same thing when writing my thesis :D
Posted on: Apr 05, 2009
lamadude says:
Haha thanks :-) I've been reading a lot of blogs lately in an attempt to avoid writing my thesis ;-)
Posted on: Apr 05, 2009
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This article from Nature interested me:

"One of Germany's largest research centres was wrong to dismiss without notice one of its institute directors, a court in Munich has ruled. The German Research Centre for Environmental Health in Munich had claimed that the dismissed scientist, immunologist Jean-Marie Buerstedde, was aggressive with colleagues and failed to nurture "relationships based on trust and respect" with students in his charge.

The centre provided the court with a long list of incidents involving Buerstedde, which describe him shouting insults, displaying insensitivity to students' personal difficulties, and forcing colleagues to work long hours and weekends. Doctoral students who complained about Buerstedde say that they were sometimes reduced to tears. Buerstedde says that his style of working was needed to remain at the forefront of the competitive field of antibody hypermutation. He brought a case of unfair dismissal against the centre after he was sacked without warning on 4 June 2008."

They must have a very different research culture to the States if "displaying insensitivity to students' personal difficulties and forcing colleagues to work long hours and weekends" is considered to be a bad thing. Most of the places I have worked in would easily accept his explanation that "his style of working was needed to remain at the forefront of the competitive field".

photo by: Chokk