By Nick Potter

In this series we look at real-life examples of the most common mistakes in English by native Spanish lawyers.

These and lots more invaluable tips are compiled in two e-books/paperbacks, here: 50 English Tips for Spanish Professionals and More English Tips for Spanish Professionals.

abusive

Donald Trump’s campaign has been memorably described as “the first time an internet comments section has run for president”.

Internet comments sections have a bad reputation for abusive language.

Perhaps comments posters don’t mean to be abusive… The question is, do you?

We’ve looked at lots of false friends in this series. Many false friends between English and Spanish emerged in the 20th century, as English became more international.

However, today’s false friend is of more recent and official origin (not to mention topical at the moment, for Spanish banks!).

Question: In which ONE of A – D below is “abusive” used correctly?

A This Regulation should provide measures regarding market manipulation that are capable of being adapted to new forms of trading or new strategies that may be abusive
B A review of the application of abusive terms to loans between professionals
C Mechanisms to avoid abusive clauses in mortgage contracts
D Court control of abusive clauses is only envisaged for those contracts in which one of the parties have the legal condition of consumer

A is correct. It is from the EU’s Market Abuse Regulation (MAR).

Why are B-D all wrong?

To find out, we need to look at another European statute, Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts. In the official Spanish translation, this directive was “sobre las cláusulas abusivas en los contratos celebrados con consumidores” (my underlining).

This questionable translation of unfair terms as abusivas persists to this day and can be found in Spanish consumer protection laws transposing EU rules. Unsurprisingly, when those consumer laws are translated into English, many opt for the literal “abusive” without realising their mistake.

For example, under Article 81 of Spain’s Consumer Protection Act, cláusulas abusivas are “todas aquellas estipulaciones no negociadas individualmente y todas aquéllas prácticas no consentidas expresamente que, en contra de las exigencias de la buena fe causen, en perjuicio del consumidor y usuario, un desequilibrio importante de los derechos y obligaciones de las partes que se deriven del contrato”. This clearly illustrates that we are talking about unfairness, more than abuse.

A This Regulation should provide measures regarding market manipulation that are capable of being adapted to new forms of trading or new strategies that may be abusive [CORRECT]
B A review of the application of abusive unfair terms to loans between professionals
C Mechanisms to avoid abusive clauses unfair terms in mortgage contracts
D Court control oversight of abusive clauses unfair terms is only envisaged for those contracts in which one of the parties have has the legal condition status of consumer*

* The author of this sentence managed to cram another couple of false friends in, ”control” and “condition”!

As for abusive, in everyday language it means to say things that are insultante/ofensivo.

Feel free to leave comments below!

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