A good day for husbands and wives

wills and trusts

What happens to your money when you die without a Will?

For the past nine decades the answer, at least in the UK, hasn’t varied significantly. But today that changes.

Today, the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Bill comes into force, the first major change to British inheritance law since 1925. From now on, if a married person with no children dies without a Will, their surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit everything. When someone dies without a Will and leaves a spouse and children, their surviving partner will receive a Statutory Legacy of £250,000 and half of their estate, with the children sharing the rest in a trust until they turn eighteen.

I doubt that too many people saying “I do” in recent weeks had this thought uppermost in their minds, but any change in the law affecting how our loved ones are provided for is bound to impact on our lives.

It emphasises the importance of clear communication in legal matters, and in a multicultural Britain where 49 languages have at least 15,000 speakers each, it also emphasises the importance of accurate legal translation.

Legal translators and interpreters need to demonstrate just as much aptitude as the solicitors and barristers they support. They need competence in legal writing style and verbal communication, thorough grounding in the terminology of their specialism and a working knowledge of the legal systems of both source and target languages. This isn’t simply a question of translating words on a page. It’s a question of conveying meaning with pinpoint precision. It takes someone very talented indeed to work with a source text designed to follow one legal system and convert it into a target text suitable for another.

The right translation partner will tick all of these boxes and more, and before doing anything else they will establish exactly what the final translation will be used for and why. Tone, sentence construction, terminology and phraseology will then be balanced to your exact needs.

At Language Connect we work with professionals whose understanding of legal language is sophisticated, specialised and constantly refreshed. When the smallest mistake can have measureless consequences, you can hardly settle for less. Two summers ago a single translation phrasing error almost threw Sri Lanka into chaos. A certified English translation of the constitution of the Tamil National Alliance mistakenly called for Sri Lanka to be divided into two separate sovereign countries, one Tamil and one Muslim. Sri Lanka’s Constitution bans political parties from seeking the establishment of a separate State. Until the mistake was retracted, there was a genuine danger of conflict and bloodshed.

Whatever problems may arise between husbands and wives, we hope civil war won’t be among the consequences. But unnecessary conflict and unnecessary confusion can be sidestepped when you choose your partners wisely. It’s a good day for everyone when they put their trust in a professional translation service.

David Jones

The perils of being a nonentity


The rapid growth in China’s economy and its propensity to trade in the 21st century has brought teething problems along with opportunities. Not least among the issues has been the navigation of a legal framework geared up for regulation, not commercial activity. China’s commercial law and indeed its legal system as a whole have traditionally been viewed as part of the apparatus of government.

While China’s lawmakers have shown signs of flexibility by adopting certain Western practices and concepts, non-compliant companies have faced severe sanctions. And those who’ve chosen to set up shop in China without even securing their status as legal entities can hardly complain when their hosts throw the book at them.

Better by far to get the right advice and play by the rules from day one. What are the options for overseas companies seeking to establish a legally recognised presence in this lucrative market?

A representative office offers a minimal legal presence, an intermediary equipped and entitled to assess market opportunities. Representative offices are low-cost and low-maintenance, but as a rule they won’t be allowed to engage in sales activity, sign binding contracts or issue invoices.

A joint venture between a foreign operation and a Chinese company offers a presence and a degree of local knowledge and credibility, but entering into this type of agreement inevitably means relinquishing a level of control, and differences in working practices can sour a partnership very quickly.

A wholly foreign owned enterprise (WFOE) offers 100 percent ownership to foreign shareholders, allowing them to conduct business in China, enter into contracts, recruit local staff, engage in research, development and marketing, and to issue invoices and accept payment in Chinese currency. A WFOE must be clear about its scope and aims, and will usually be expected to stay within the boundaries set for it.  

Whichever option companies choose, accurate advice is of paramount importance. Not only in matters of law but in matters of language. Some have tried to cut corners by using bilingual lawyers to translate important contracts, and lived to regret it. Whatever their professional strengths, a bilingual lawyer is not a qualified translator any more than a person who owns a microwave oven is a qualified chef. The mistranslation of legal terminology in the courtrooms of Beijing and Shanghai has been a decisive factor in many cases. If you’re taking the trouble to establish yourself as a legal entity in this closely scrutinised market, why risk undoing your good work and good intentions by taking the cheap option?

Taking the decision to set up shop in China, the powerhouse economy of the 21st century, is far sighted and bold. To capitalise on this boldness and fulfil the long term vision, you need specialist help. That means listening to the most suitable legal advice, as well as putting your trust in the most suitable translation service.


David Jones



See the sights. Catch a show. Get a divorce…



Paris – the city of love. 

Rome – the eternal city. 

New York – the city that never sleeps. 

London – divorce capital of the world. 


While the UK’s capital might have hoped for a more romantic association, its lawyers could hardly have asked for a more lucrative one. For a range of reasons, the UK in general and London in particular has become a magnet for the super-rich who are falling out of love.

International visitors value the even-handed approach and discretionary elements of English divorce law. And they will be aware of the eye-catching financial settlements of recent years:

  • In 2006 insurance broker John Charman was ordered to pay his wife Beverly £48m.
  • In 2008 Heather Mills was awarded £24.3m in her highly publicized split from Sir Paul McCartney.
  • In 2011 Russian oligarch Boris Berezowsky is believed to have agreed a payment of £220m to his wife of 20 years, Galina Berashova.

More international and commercial arbitrations take place in London under English law than in any other city in the world. Added to this, the Times has reported that one case in every six that come before courts in England and Wales include an international element. With so much at stake, financially and personally, there’s no room for error in the presentation of evidence. Every word and every nuance matters. When a client’s native language isn’t English, translation and interpreting from a proven legal specialist will convey information precisely, in sense and spirit, giving other professionals the platform to do their jobs equally well. 

Those seeking to end a marriage in the UK will find few jurisdictional barriers in their way. It’s not necessary for either spouse to be British born or British domiciled to file divorce proceedings under English law. Jurisdiction can be established through residence of either party, or sometimes simply by the proof of a commercial connection to the country. And for both parties, there are firm arguments in favour of a London settlement.

English Courts recognise that there should be no discrimination between the contributions of a homemaker and breadwinner in a marriage, so the starting assumption in all cases is an equal division of matrimonial assets. While this has been refined to allow exceptions, it remains a compelling point.

Crucially, Pre-Nuptial and Pre-Marital Agreements have no statutory force in England and Wales. They may be looked at on a case by case basis as part of the tapestry of a marriage, but won’t be given the weight they receive in other territories.

It’s also fair to say that overseas citizens seeking legal representation may be attracted to the UK by the quality of the professionals who practice there. Long standing leaders such as Farrer & Co continue to balance their clients’ emotional and economic interests with consummate skill, while Stowe Family Law have proved for decades that London has no monopoly on quality. The firm has a London presence along with five offices in the north of England, and is home to some of the country’s most respected practitioners. 

Divorce capital of the world may not be the most romantic title, but when it signifies fairness and professional competence it’s nothing to shy away from.


David Jones