ley especial vs. ley ordinaria (Guatemala)

Discussion in 'Legal Terminology' started by Heredianista, Mar 21, 2011.

  1. Heredianista

    Heredianista Senior Member

    Portland, Maine
    English - USA
    Esteemed colleagues,

    I am looking for a definition for "especial" in a particular legal context unfamiliar to me, and I have looked everywhere without luck. Might anyone be able to help?

    My text reads:

    "[el] debido proceso incluye la obligación de... efectuar los procedimientos tal y como lo establece la ley ordinaria –Principio de Imperatividad–.... con el fin de hacer efectivos los fines del proceso consagrados en la ley especial..."

    and again, later:

    "el artículo 230 de la ley especial determina cuales son las resoluciones que tienen carácter de apelables...."

    Any suggestions would be deeply appreciated. Thank you!
  2. cipotarebelde Senior Member

    El Salvador
    USA English
    I have similar questions Heredianista-- Did you ever get an answer?
  3. Hulalessar Senior Member

    English - England
    On Googling, it seems that "leyes generales" are laws that are generally applicable, whereas "leyes especiales" are laws that cover specific situations. So, for example, "the law of contract" sets out the rules that govern all contracts and "the law of building contracts" regulates building contracts only.
  4. cipotarebelde Senior Member

    El Salvador
    USA English
    Thank you Hulalessar. Actually, I was aware of the general differences of meaning but confused by how to translated them. Perhaps I don't know and English-language based legal system well enough to think of an equivalent. Is Special Law and Ordinary/General Law an understandable distinction in English? It wasn't to my knowledge, which is, as I say, limited.
  5. Hulalessar Senior Member

    English - England
    You have of course come up against the classic dilemma of a translator translating a text employing "civil law" terminology into English because, on the whole, English does not have the terminology to cope with the concepts of civil law. It is of course equally the case that Spanish (and probably just about every other language) does not have the terminology to cope with the concepts of the common law. So, even someone with a wide knowledge of the two systems will have often have difficulty in finding an equivalent.

    The common law (at least in England) does not really distinguish regularly between "general laws" and "special laws". English lawyers may use the expression "general law", but only in the sense of saying that a principle applies generally in a given area. So, "the law of building contracts", whilst applying specifically to building contracts, is still part of the general law because it applies to all building contracts. If "general law" is opposed to anything, it would be to something like "local law".

    I think it all comes down to what purpose the translation is being made for. Whilst not mutually exclusive, there are two main possibilities when translating legal texts. One is to make a translation which uses approximations and is not wholly accurate but which is hopefully not misleading and which does no more than provide sufficient information for the person reading it to get a general idea of what the text is saying. The other is to provide footnotes, which may need to be copious, to explain the concepts.
  6. cipotarebelde Senior Member

    El Salvador
    USA English
    Thank you, again Hulalessar. You have stated very clearly what I only had begun to sort through. This gives me the confidence to make some choices all the lines that you mention.

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