Trending term: Justiciable

Trending term: Justiciable


Trending term: Justiciable

Barbara McClintock, MA, Certified Translator*

At McGill’s Institute of Jurilinguistics in March, I heard “justiciable” used by several French-speaking attendees. I have also noticed lately that the term is used quite frequently in the media. You might think that justiciable is being used like “jurist,” but be careful because it has a very different meaning.

Justiciable, noun and adjective in French: “Le ou la justiciable est la personne qui risque d’être poursuivie en justice ou d’être traduite devant un juge… Considéré par rapport aux pouvoirs publics, l’individu est un particulier; sujet de droit, il devient justiciable quand il est susceptible de paraître en justice.”

  • Juridictionnaire, Translation Bureau

Judiciariser, verb: “Soumettre au processus judiciaire.”

  • Le grand dictionnaire terminologique, Office québécois de la langue française

I recently discovered that SOQUI publishes blog posts and linguistic capsules on its website. The capsules cover three main areas: anglicisms, grammar and improprieties. Under Impropriétés, we can read that the past participle of the verb judiciariser should not be used as an adjective to refer to people facing legal problems. You can say, for example, judiciariser un débat, un grief.

Black’s Law Dictionary (2014) is silent about “judiciarize,” which is the English verb found under the above-mentioned OQLF entry. Judicialize, on the other hand, means

  1. To pattern (procedures, etc.) after a court of law. 2. To bring (something not traditionally within the judicial system) into the judicial system (Black’s Law Dictionary 2014, p. 975).

The term justiciable exists in English, but it is mainly used as an adjective rather than as a noun (Black’s Law Dictionary 2014, p. 997):

Justiciable, adj. (of a case or dispute) properly brought before a court of justice; capable of being disposed of judicially; a justiciable controversy.

On the Justice Canada site, I found the expression “gravité des problèmes justiciables” translated as “seriousness of justiciable problems.”(1) Therefore, it is not a problem to translate the adjective, only the noun and the verb. By googling, I found “litigant” or a party to a lawsuit, plaintiff and defendant as possible English equivalents for justiciable. And, as we have seen, “judicialize” is your best bet for the verb. As sometimes happens – think of présentiel and distanciel – French speakers have adopted a new expression and English translators must adapt to this change.

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*The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.