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as the case may be
legalese
Topic Rating: 0 (0 votes) 
2014/02/20
8:19am
Brussels, Belgium
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I translate a lot of legal texts into English (from French or Dutch) and am often stymied by when to use "as the case may be". Most importantly, I wonder whether it can be used where there are more than two different situations/ccircumstances involved.

The Shorter Oxford defines it as "according to the situation". I find it often used in legal language when there are two or more different options, or conditions, or articles being cited, and then there are several possible situations where the one to apply will need to be selected dpeending on what the situation is.

There is a good entry in Collins online dictionary (defines it as "according to the circumstances"), but all the examples there contain only two alternatives, e.g. "Rather than trying to welcome or oppose their inclusion or exclusion, as the case may be, India must draw up a position on each of them." Can there be three or more possibilities, linked by "or"?
(Another problem is that it is often used to translate either "selon le cas" in French (which is its literal equivalent) or "s'il y a lieu" which means the phrase in question may or may not apply at all, so I tend to translate that by "where applicable" or "where appropriate" depending if it is a law or another type of action that is involved.)

2014/02/20
10:52am
Robert
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sandorm said
…e.g. "Rather than trying to welcome or oppose their inclusion or exclusion, as the case may be, India must draw up a position on each of them." 

In that example, there is a weird but palpable sense that the purpose of that phrase was only to tell the reader to pair up correctly the 4 words (welcome, oppose, inclusion, exclusion), in other words, please don't mess up the order to make out that India welcomes its exclusion or opposes its inclusion.  A version of 'respectively.'

The sentence is clear enough, but the English is poor.

As to your point about the number of possibilities, it can be just to point out the existence of any 1 possibility:

Instead of being overly reactive towards the prospect of its being excluded, though the case may be, India must build up a case for its inclusion.

 

2014/02/20
3:16pm
polistra
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I'm not sure that 'as the case may be' has any real meaning.  In the sentence about India, 'as the case may be' can be omitted entirely, and the sentence is actually clearer without it.

 

For the situation where two consequences are paired with two causes, I don't think 'as the case may be' creates the needed switch function. 

 

Some Euro languages seem to use the abbreviation 'resp' for that situation.   It would be nice to write "For positive or negative grounds, use red resp. blue wires."   Unfortunately resp isn't available in English.  

 

It's usually best to separate the pieces entirely.  "For positive grounds, use red wires.  For negative grounds, use blue wires."

2014/03/11
9:10am
Brussels, Belgium
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polistra said

I'm not sure that 'as the case may be' has any real meaning.  In the sentence about India, 'as the case may be' can be omitted entirely, and the sentence is actually clearer without it.

 

For the situation where two consequences are paired with two causes, I don't think 'as the case may be' creates the needed switch function. 

 

Some Euro languages seem to use the abbreviation 'resp' for that situation.   It would be nice to write "For positive or negative grounds, use red resp. blue wires."   Unfortunately resp isn't available in English.  

 

It's usually best to separate the pieces entirely.  "For positive grounds, use red wires.  For negative grounds, use blue wires."

Yes, thanks, that is very sensible advice. I do frequently have to find a way to translate that resp. as well. Putting respectively at the end, written out in full, can sometimes do the trick.

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