Legalese, International Banking, Knights Templar, and Admiralty Law
1. informal: the formal and technical language of legal documents that is often hard to understand.
Dealing With The Law
When we deal with the police, lawyers and courts, we must be aware that they are not speaking the same language we are. They use “legalese”—the formal and technical language of legal documents that is often hard to understand. For example, if a police officer asks, “Do you understand?”, you are not being asked if you comprehend. You are actually being asked, “Do you stand under my authority?”, or in other words, “Do you relinquish your authority to me?” Depending on the situation at hand, answering in the affirmative may have dire consequences.
Legal English is the type of English as used in legal writing.
It has been referred to as a “sublanguage”, as legal English differs from ordinary language in vocabulary, morphology, syntax, and semantics, as well as other linguistic features. A specialized use of certain terms and linguistic patterns governs the teaching of legal language. Thus, “we study legal language as a kind of second language, a specialized use of vocabulary, phrases, and syntax that helps us to communicate more easily with each other”.
The term legalese, on the other hand, is a pejorative term associated with a traditional style of legal writing that is part of this specialized discourse of lawyers: communication that “lay readers cannot readily comprehend”. This term describes poor legal writing that is cluttered, wordy, indirect, and that includes unnecessary technical words or phrases. Historically, legalese is language a lawyer might use in drafting a contract or a pleading but would not use in ordinary conversation. For this reason, the traditional style of legal writing has been labeled reader-unfriendly. Proponents of plain language argue that legal “writing style should not vary from task to task or audience to audience…; whatever lawyers write must be Clear, Correct, Concise, and Complete”. These 4 Cs describe “characteristics of good legal writing style” in the United States.
There are different kinds (genres) of legal writing: for example, (a) academic legal writing as in law journals, (b) juridical legal writing as in court judgments, and (c) legislative legal writing as in laws, regulations, contracts, and treaties. Another variety is the language used by lawyers to communicate with clients requiring a more “reader-friendly” style of written communication than that used with law professionals.
For lawyers operating internationally, communicating with clients and other professionals across cultures requires a need for transnational legal awareness and trans-cultural linguistic awareness. Whatever the form of legal writing, legal skills and language skills form a vital part of higher education and professional training.’
Legal English has particular relevance when applied to legal writing and the drafting of written material, including:
* legal documents: contracts, licences, etc.
* court pleadings: summonses, briefs, judgments, etc.
* laws: Acts of Parliament and subordinate legislation, case reports
* legal correspondence
Legal English has traditionally been the preserve of lawyers from English-speaking countries (especially the U.S., the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, and South Africa) which have shared common law traditions. However, due to the spread of Legal English as the predominant language of international business, as well as its role as a legal language within the European Union, legal English is now a global phenomenon. It may informally be referred to as lawspeak.
Importance of studying International Business
The international business standards focus on the following:
* raising awareness of the inter-relatedness of one country’s political policies and economic practices on another;
* learning to improve international business relations through appropriate communication strategies;
* understanding the global business environment—that is, the inter-connectedness of cultural, political, legal, economic, and ethical systems;
* exploring basic concepts underlying international finance, management, marketing, and trade relations; and
* identifying forms of business ownership and international business opportunities.
By focusing on these, students will gain a better understanding of Political economy. These are tools that would help future business people bridge the economic and political gap between countries.
There is an increasing amount of demand for business people with an education in international business. A survey conducted by Thomas Patrick from University of Notre Dame concluded that bachelor’s degree and master’s degree holders felt that the training received through education were very practical in the working environment. Business people with an education in international business also had a significantly higher chance of being sent abroad to work under the international operations of a firm.
International finance (also referred to as international monetary economics or international macroeconomics) is the branch of financial economics broadly concerned with monetary and macroeconomic interrelations between two or more countries. International finance examines the dynamics of the global financial system, international monetary systems, balance of payments, exchange rates, foreign direct investment, and how these topics relate to international trade. Sometimes referred to as multinational finance, international finance is additionally concerned with matters of international financial management. Investors and multinational corporations must assess and manage international risks such as political risk and foreign exchange risk, including transaction exposure, economic exposure, and translation exposure.
Some examples of key concepts within international finance are the Mundell–Fleming model, the optimum currency area theory, purchasing power parity, interest rate parity, and the international Fisher effect. Whereas the study of international trade makes use of mostly microeconomic concepts, international finance research investigates predominantly macroeconomic concepts.
The three major components setting international finance apart from its purely domestic counterpart are as follows:
- Foreign exchange and political risks.
- Market imperfections.
- Expanded opportunity sets.
These major dimensions of international finance largely stem from the fact that sovereign nations have the right and power to issue currencies, formulate their own economic policies, impose taxes, and regulate movement of people, goods, and capital across their borders.
A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates credit. Lending activities can be performed either directly or indirectly through capital markets. Due to their importance in the financial stability of a country, banks are highly regulated in most countries. Most nations have institutionalized a system known as fractional reserve banking under which banks hold liquid assets equal to only a portion of their current liabilities. In addition to other regulations intended to ensure liquidity, banks are generally subject to minimum capital requirements based on an international set of capital standards, known as the Basel Accords.
Banking in its modern sense evolved in the 14th century in the prosperous cities of Renaissance Italy but in many ways was a continuation of ideas and concepts of credit and lending that had their roots in the ancient world. In the history of banking, a number of banking dynasties – notably, the Medicis, the Fuggers, the Welsers, the Berenbergs and the Rothschilds – have played a central role over many centuries. The oldest existing retail bank is Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, while the oldest existing merchant bank is Berenberg Bank.
The history of banking refers to the development of banks and banking throughout history, with banking defined by contemporary sources as an organization which provides facilities for acceptance of deposits and provision of loans.
The first prototype banks were the merchants of the world, who made grain loans to farmers and traders who carried goods between cities. This began around 2000 BC in Assyria and Sumeria. Later, in ancient Greece and during the Roman Empire, lenders based in temples made loans, while accepting deposits and performing the change of money. Archaeology from this period in ancient China and India also shows evidence of money lending activity.
Many histories position the crucial historical development of a banking system to medieval and Renaissance Italy and particularly the affluent cities of Florence, Venice and Genoa. The Bardi and Peruzzi Families dominated banking in 14th century Florence, establishing branches in many other parts of Europe. The most famous Italian bank was the Medici bank, established by Giovanni Medici in 1397. The oldest bank still in existence is Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, headquartered in Siena, Italy, which has been operating continuously since 1472.
The development of banking spread from northern Italy throughout the Holy Roman Empire, and in the 15th and 16th century to northern Europe. This was followed by a number of important innovations that took place in Amsterdam during the Dutch Republic in the 17th century, and in London since the 18th century. During the 20th century, developments in telecommunications and computing caused major changes to banks’ operations and let banks dramatically increase in size and geographic spread. The financial crisis of 2007–2008 caused many bank failures, including some of the world’s largest banks, and provoked much debate about bank regulation.
The Knight Templar and the Vatican
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici), also known as the Order of Solomon’s Temple (French: Ordre du Temple or Templiers), the Knights Templar or simply as Templars, was a Catholic military order recognised in 1139 by papal bull Omne Datum Optimum of the Holy See. The order was founded in 1119 and active from about 1129 to 1312.
The order, which was among the wealthiest and most powerful, became a favored charity throughout Christendom and grew rapidly in membership and power. They were prominent in Christian finance. Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, developing innovative financial techniques that were an early form of banking, and building fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land.
The Templars were closely tied to the Crusades; when the Holy Land was lost, support for the order faded. Rumors about the Templars’ secret initiation ceremony created distrust, and King Philip IV of France – deeply in debt to the order – took advantage of the situation to gain control over them. In 1307, he had many of the order’s members in France arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and burned at the stake. Pope Clement V disbanded the order in 1312 under pressure from King Philip.
The abrupt reduction in power of a significant group in European society gave rise to speculation, legend, and legacy through the ages. The appropriation of their name by later organizations has kept the name “Templar” alive to the present day, while helping to obscure its origin.
Although the primary mission of the order was militaristic, relatively few members were combatants. The others acted in support positions to assist the knights and to manage the financial infrastructure. The Templar Order, though its members were sworn to individual poverty, was given control of wealth beyond direct donations. A nobleman who was interested in participating in the Crusades might place all his assets under Templar management while he was away. Accumulating wealth in this manner throughout Christendom and the Outremer, the order in 1150 began generating letters of credit for pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land: pilgrims deposited their valuables with a local Templar preceptory before embarking, received a document indicating the value of their deposit, then used that document upon arrival in the Holy Land to retrieve their funds in an amount of treasure of equal value. This innovative arrangement was an early form of banking and may have been the first formal system to support the use of cheques; it improved the safety of pilgrims by making them less attractive targets for thieves, and also contributed to the Templar coffers.
Based on this mix of donations and business dealing, the Templars established financial networks across the whole of Christendom. They acquired large tracts of land, both in Europe and the Middle East; they bought and managed farms and vineyards; they built massive stone cathedrals and castles; they were involved in manufacturing, import and export; they had their own fleet of ships; and at one point they even owned the entire island of Cyprus. The Order of the Knights Templar arguably qualifies as the world’s first multinational corporation.
It was between the Knight Templar and the Vatican that the princlples of Maritime Admiraty Law and International banking was established.
In 1305, the new Pope Clement V, based in Avignon, France, sent letters to both the Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay and the Hospitaller Grand Master Fulk de Villaret to discuss the possibility of merging the two orders. Neither was amenable to the idea, but Pope Clement persisted, and in 1306 he invited both Grand Masters to France to discuss the matter. De Molay arrived first in early 1307, but de Villaret was delayed for several months. While waiting, De Molay and Clement discussed criminal charges that had been made two years earlier by an ousted Templar and were being discussed by King Philip IV of France and his ministers. It was generally agreed that the charges were false, but Clement sent the king a written request for assistance in the investigation. According to some historians, King Philip, who was already deeply in debt to the Templars from his war with the English, decided to seize upon the rumours for his own purposes. He began pressuring the church to take action against the order, as a way of freeing himself from his debts.
Admiralty law or maritime law is a distinct body of law that governs maritime questions and offences.
It is a body of both domestic law governing maritime activities, and private international law governing the relationships between private entities that operate vessels on the oceans. It deals with matters including marine commerce, marine navigation, marine salvaging, shipping, sailors, and the transportation of passengers and goods by sea. Admiralty law also covers many commercial activities, although land based or occurring wholly on land, that are maritime in character.
Admiralty law is distinguished from the Law of the Sea, which is a body of public international law dealing with navigational rights, mineral rights, jurisdiction over coastal waters and international law governing relationships between nations.
Although each legal jurisdiction usually has its own enacted legislation governing maritime matters, admiralty law is characterized by a significant amount of international law developed in recent decades, including numerous multilateral treaties.
Seaborne transport was one of the earliest channels of commerce, and rules for resolving disputes involving maritime trade were developed early in recorded history. Early historical records of these laws include the Rhodian law (Nomos Rhodion Nautikos), of which no primary written specimen has survived, but which is alluded to in other legal texts (Roman and Byzantine legal codes), and later the customs of the Consulate of the Sea or the Hanseatic League. In southern Italy the Ordinamenta et consuetudo maris (1063) at Trani and the Amalfian Laws were in effect from an early date.
Bracton noted further that admiralty law was also used as an alternative to the common law in Norman England, which previously required voluntary submission to it by entering a plea seeking judgment from the court.
Islamic law also made major contributions to international admiralty law, departing from the previous Roman and Byzantine maritime laws in several ways. These included Muslim sailors being paid a fixed wage “in advance” with an understanding that they would owe money in the event of desertion or malfeasance, in keeping with Islamic conventions in which contracts should specify “a known fee for a known duration.” (In contrast, Roman and Byzantine sailors were “stakeholders in a maritime venture, inasmuch as captain and crew, with few exceptions, were paid proportional divisions of a sea venture’s profit, with shares allotted by rank, only after a voyage’s successful conclusion.”) Muslim jurists also distinguished between “coastal navigation, or cabotage”, and voyages on the “high seas”, and they made shippers “liable for freight in most cases except the seizure of both a ship and its cargo”. Islamic law “departed from Justinian’s Digest and the Nomos Rhodion Nautikos in condemning slave jettison”, and the Islamic Qirad was a precursor to the European commenda limited partnership. The “Islamic influence on the development of an international law of the sea” can thus be discerned alongside that of the Roman influence.
Admiralty law was introduced into England by the French Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine while she was acting as regent for her son, King Richard the Lionheart. She had earlier established admiralty law on the island of Oleron (where it was published as the Rolls of Oleron) in her own lands (although she is often referred to in admiralty law books as “Eleanor of Guyenne”), having learned about it in the eastern Mediterranean while on a Crusade with her first husband, King Louis VII of France. In England, special admiralty courts handle all admiralty cases. These courts do not use the common law of England, but are civil law courts largely based upon the Corpus Juris Civilis of Justinian.
Admiralty courts were a prominent feature in the prelude to the American Revolution. For example, the phrase in the Declaration of Independence “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury” refers to the practice of Parliament giving the Admiralty Courts jurisdiction to enforce The Stamp Act in the American Colonies. Because the Stamp Act was unpopular, a colonial jury was unlikely to convict a colonist of its violation. However, because admiralty courts did not (as is true today) grant trial by jury, a colonist accused of violating the Stamp Act could be more easily convicted by the Crown.
Admiralty law became part of the law of the United States as it was gradually introduced through admiralty cases arising after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1789. Many American lawyers who were prominent in the American Revolution were admiralty and maritime lawyers in their private lives. Those included are Alexander Hamilton in New York and John Adams in Massachusetts.
In 1787 John Adams, who was then ambassador to France, wrote to James Madison proposing that the U.S. Constitution, then under consideration by the States, be amended to include “trial by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land [as opposed the law of admiralty] and not by the laws of Nations [i.e. not by the law of admiralty]”. The result was the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Alexander Hamilton and John Adams were both admiralty lawyers and Adams represented John Hancock in an admiralty case in colonial Boston involving seizure of one of Hancock’s ships for violations of Customs regulations. In the more modern era, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was an admiralty lawyer before ascending to the bench.
In theory, any general jurisdiction court may hear cases involving admiralty law. Courts of limited jurisdiction, for example, small claims courts, may not hear maritime law cases.
A state court hearing an admiralty or maritime case is required to apply the admiralty and maritime law, even if it conflicts with the law of the state, under a doctrine known as the “reverse-Erie doctrine.” The Erie doctrine, derived from Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, directs that federal courts hearing state actions must apply state law. The “reverse-Erie doctrine” directs that state courts hearing admiralty cases must apply federal admiralty law. This distinction is critical in some cases.
For instance, U.S. maritime law recognizes the concept of joint and several liability among tortfeasors, while many states do not. Under joint and several liability, where two or more people create a single injury or loss, all are equally liable, even if they only contributed a small amount. A state court hearing an admiralty case would be required to apply the doctrine of joint and several liability even if state law does not contemplate the concept.
Federal law is the body of law created by the federal government of a country. A federal government is formed when a group of political units, such as states or provinces join together in a federation, delegating their individual sovereignty and many powers to the central government while retaining or reserving other limited powers. As a result, two or more levels of government exist within an established geographic territory. The body of law of the common central government is the federal law.
The United States Constitution provides for a federal government that is superior to state governments with regard to its enumerated powers. These powers include the authority to govern international affairs, interstate commerce, the currency and national defense. After the American Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment applied the Constitution’s Bill of Rights to state governments. Legislation passed by Congress, an Executive Order of the President, or a decision of federal courts pursuant to the Constitution are federal law.
Through the system of checks and balances, it is the Supreme Court makes final decisions regarding federal laws regarding specific cases brought before them. United States federal laws are codified in the United States Code.
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