is a new entry this year
The role of a translator, even one at the European Court of
Justice, is surely administrative, organisational and
secretarial. A typical translation service involves taking the
words put together by one person, organisation or body, and
using language skills to make them accessible to a wider
The meaning of those words does not change; the people they
can reach does.
But this was not the case this year after the
ECJ's judgement in Skandia, published in
September, concerning the VAT treatment of cross-border
supplies of services from a company headquarters to a branch,
and how this differs when VAT groups come into play.
Confusion and concern about the implications of the ruling
for various EU member states arose when it became clear there
were slight discrepancies in the meaning of different
translations of the verdict, which was originally given in
The question that led to such
controversy was whether the Swedish judgement should be
translated to read "as" or "insofar as". The seemingly
minor difference in terms would lead to drastically different
outcomes. An "as" interpretation would suggest that countries
with different grouping rules from Sweden would have to change
their legislation, which would broaden the scope of the
judgement's impact on national tax regimes dramatically.
It should be pointed out that the translators at the ECJ do
a stellar job providing a service that largely goes
unrecognised and is taken for granted. Unfortunately, it takes
an instance like this to bring those efforts to the fore.