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viernes, 13 de marzo de 2015

English Tips for Spanish Lawyers (iv) “to the extent”

Por Nick Potter


In this series we look at real-life examples of the most common mistakes in English by native Spanish lawyers. These and a whole host of other invaluable tips are available in a new ebook/paperback, here: 50 English Tips for Spanish Professionals.

to the extent

Never again will you mistranslate en la medida en que. Well, to the extent you take on board the following...

Question: Which TWO (yes, two this time) of A – E below are correct?

A To the extent the deadline does not seem feasible, let’s wait for confirmation
B This posed no problem from the competition point of view to the extent that the markets were not open in any case
C The company reserves the right, to the extent permitted under applicable law, to monitor electronic communications
D The company is also active to a lesser extent in Portugal and Germany
E Once the annual accounts are drawn up (and, to the extent applicable, audited), they will be submitted to the shareholders for approval

Before you read the answer, remember:


Extent means the degree to which or proportion in which.
“To an extent” means hasta (un) cierto punto. We use “extent” to describe areas, levels and degrees of things that can vary e.g. situations where some things are possible and permitted while others are not.

Translating from Spanish, en la medida de lo posible means to the extent possible (or where possible). En la misma medida means to the same extent. En mayor o menor medida means to a greater or lesser extent.

According to the RAE, en la medida en que means ‘en la proporción en que’. But it also means ‘en correspondencia con el hecho de que’. This does not translate as “to the extent” as it refers to a black-and-white fact, not something variable.

How to translate en la medida en que in this case?


Easy. It means as / because / since. So:

A does not refer to ‘la proporción en que’. It refers to a fact – either the deadline is feasible or it isn’t:

A Because / since / as / seeing as To the extent the deadline does not seem feasible, let’s wait for confirmation

In B, the Spanish text was:

Esta situación no planteaba problemas de competencia en la medida en que los mercados no estaban abiertos.

Does en la medida en que here refer to the proportion in which the markets were open or el hecho de que the markets were not open? It is the fact and therefore B is wrong:

B This posed no problem from the competition point of view to the extent since / as / because the markets were not open in any case

C and D are the correct answers because they refer to “proportion”. Electronic communications can be monitored – up to a point. The company is active in the countries mentioned – but less active compared to its activity elsewhere.

C The company reserves the right, to the extent permitted under applicable law, to monitor electronic communications [CORRECT]
D The company is also active to a lesser extent in Portugal and Germany [CORRECT]

Finally, E is wrong because if the annual accounts have to be audited, they will be audited in whole, not just a proportion:

E Once the annual accounts are drawn up (and, to the extent as applicable, audited), they will be submitted to the shareholders for approval

Note the difference between as applicable (the rule will apply or won’t apply; it will apply to one thing, but not another) and to the extent applicable or where applicable (the rule may apply in part i.e. to an extent).

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