[License-review] CeCILL license V2.1 for Approval

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Mon Apr 2 22:16:35 UTC 2012

Karl Fogel scripsit:

>   "The Agreement is drafted in both French and English and both
>   versions are deemed authentic."
>   I've seen this kind of clause before, but am unclear on what it
>   means if there is a disagreement between the two versions.

Such a case is in principle no different from a single-language text
that is ambiguous.  The court must use whatever mechanisms it normally
uses to resolve ambiguity: it may not discard the French text simply
because it prefers to use English, nor vice versa, but must take them
both into account.

If there is no way to reconcile the two (in one Hong Kong case, the
English version of a law made it an offense to do something that *may*
cause damage of a particular kind, whereas the Chinese version omitted
"may"), the court will look to such factors as the intent of the drafters,
which language(s) were used during the original drafting as working
languages and which were added later by translation, and so on.

This sort of thing goes on all the time in bilingual countries such as
Canada, and in all national courts that have to interpret treaties
and U.N. conventions.

John Cowan   cowan at ccil.org    http://ccil.org/~cowan
I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them
alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag
went over me.  I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am
Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider.  --Bilbo to Smaug

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