Der Rechtsweg ist ausgeschlossen is a phrase that crops up regularly, especially in competition terms and conditions. And it causes problems.
“Why?” I hear you ask, “Doesn’t it translate as ‘the judges’ decision is final’?” Well yes, that is a perfectly acceptable translation, as proven by its inclusion in the rules of Britain’s Got Talent, and on the Illinois Legal Aid website.
You see, the problem doesn’t stem from our inability to find an adequate translation. The issue is “the judges’ decision is final” just doesn’t sound legal enough. Customers can’t believe that it is the equivalent term - it’s almost a case of “The translator’s decision is not final”.
It is true - the German term does have an extremely robust, almost intimidating quality to it. Our little old (but absolutely correct) phrase doesn’t seem to cut the mustard, conjuring up images of the gentle rivalry of the ‘best marmalade’ award at the local village fete. So, as the customer is always right, we needed to find a way to give the term more clout, without alienating the English-speaking reader.
I wanted to keep “The judges’ decision is final”, but find examples where the term had been reinforced with additional information. How about “The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into”? It does return 179,000 hits on Google and it sounds somewhat more authoritative than before. Still seems a bit flimsy when compared to the German though.
The search for an alternative continued long into the night (well… mid-afternoon at least), until I came across this souped-up (sorry) version on a cooker website:
“The judges’ decision is final and legally binding and no correspondence will be entered into.” If we abbreviate this to “The judges’ decision is final and legally binding”, we end up with a concise, legalese term, which will hopefully satisfy our customers and their readers. So, it made it through to the final round of judging, the classic Google check… Almost three thousand hits - a good number for such a specific phrase.
Maybe we should just launch a competition to see who can come up with the best translation of Der Rechtsweg ist ausgeschlossen. Send in your ideas, and we’ll select the best one. And the judges’ decision WILL BE FINAL.