In the areas of Justice and Home Affairs of the European Union (EU), the use of a precise terminology is extremely important. The relevant competent authorities of the Member States (law enforcement authorities, judges and prosecutors, interpreters and translators, lawyers) and of the European institutions and bodies (European Commission, European Parliament, Council of the EU, Court of Justice of the EU, European External Action Service, Eurojust, Europol, OLAF) carry out their activities in a multilingual context and are compelled to use equivalent legal terms to refer to the same reality. The languages to be used and their combinations vary constantly depending on the audience, the participants to a meeting, or the recipients of a document.

In the past few years, the setting up of new systems for managing information has become a great challenge for most of the EU agencies and units, including Europol, Eurojust and OLAF. In the near future, the European Public ProsecutorĀ“s Office is expected to face a similar challenge. The processing of intelligence and/or information related to on-going investigations and criminal proceedings must be carried out in accordance with common standards, including those related to the use of a precise and detailed terminology. Only under such requirements, indirect access to information systems on the basis of a hit/ no hit mechanism and cross-referencing searches would result in matches and further sharing of relevant information.

The mastering of a precise terminology is a complex matter. There are, at least, as many legal systems as Member States in the EU, with notable differences among them. In practice, this circumstance makes quite difficult the identification of equivalent legal terms, whilst in certain cases the equivalent term does not exist and a brief explanation must be provided instead.

The differences are even more visible when national competent authorities and EU agencies cooperate with international organisationes (as United Nations) and third States, including Arabic countries of the Middle East. The cultural environment and the legal traditions of both the EU and the Middle East are very different. Despite this, in on-going investigations and criminal proceedings the communication must be clear and fluent, both in oral and written form. All the authorities involved in the case need to have a clear understanding of the legal concepts, and make use of the correct and appropriate legal terminology.

Another relevant element is the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings. This fundamental right is enshrined in Art. 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, developed by the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, and facilitated in practice by EU Directive 2010/64/EU of 20 October 2010. It implies that suspected and accused persons who do not speak or understand the language of the proceedings are entitled to receive the assistance of an interpreter before any investigative and judicial authorities. Suspected and accused persons must be also provided with a written translation of all documents that are essential to ensure their right of defence and a fair trial. Interpretation and translation must be provided in suspected or accused personĀ“s native language and without delay.


For the first time, the Toledo School of Translators offers a Specialised Course in Multilingual Legal Terminology. It is a Higher Education Certificate awarded by the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM). UCLM is a Spanish University integrated in the European Higher Education Area (also called Bologna Process) since 2010.

The main goal of this Course is to deliver specialised theoretical-practical training on legal terminology of the EU (Justice and Home Affairs matters), and of the United Kingdom, France and Spain (Criminal law and Criminal proceedings). A module on Islamic legal tradition and its terminology, and a module on comparative law between the legal systems of the European Union and of Middle Eastern and North African countries are also offered.

This Course is especially designed for judges, prosecutors, law enforcement authorities, public officials, interpreters and translators with accredited legal background and high level of English. At least a medium level of French and/or Spanish is required.

With this Course, the Toledo School of Translators aims to contribute to a Europe of Knowledge by strengthening the talents and capacities of judges, prosecutors, law enforcement authorities, public officials, interpreters and translators of the European Union and of Middle Eastern and North African countries.