interdicción de la arbitrariedad

18:20 Mar 9, 2018
Spanish to English translations [PRO]
Law/Patents - Law (general) / Spanish Constitution
Spanish term or phrase: interdicción de la arbitrariedad
Artículo 9 (Spanish Constitution)

1. Los ciudadanos y los poderes públicos están sujetos a la Constitución y al resto del ordenamiento jurídico.

2. Corresponde a los poderes públicos promover las condiciones para que la libertad y la igualdad del individuo y de los grupos en que se integra sean reales y efectivas; remover los obstáculos que impidan o dificulten su plenitud y facilitar la participación de todos los ciudadanos en la vida política, económica, cultural y social.

3. La Constitución garantiza el principio de legalidad, la jerarquía normativa, la publicidad de las normas, la irretroactividad de las disposiciones sancionadoras no favorables o restrictivas de derechos individuales, la seguridad jurídica, la responsabilidad y la ***interdicción de la arbitrariedad*** de los poderes públicos.

Prohibición de que los poderes públicos actúen conforme a la mera voluntad de sus titulares, sin ajustarse a las normas. En el Estado de Derecho rige el imperio de la ley, a la que están sujetos todos los poderes. La arbitrariedad, la actuación sin fundamento jurídico, es propia de la tiranía. La Constitución Española (art. 9.3) garantiza la interdicción de la arbitrariedad de los poderes públicos, que están, al igual que los ciudadanos, sujetos a la Constitución y al resto del ordenamiento jurídico (art. 9.1) (V. principios constitucionales; Estado de Derecho; seguridad jurídica).

How would you characterise this in English? As I understand it, it basically means "protection against the abuse of discretion", but I'm not sure whether this term is too narrow in English, as, from what I can tell, "abuse of discretion" seems to refer only to the judiciary, not the other branches of government.

Perhaps I could get around it by using "abuse of discretion by the branches of government", but my source document actually only mentions the term "interdicción de la arbitrariedad".

In any case, I've a feeling I may be missing some broader term, so I'd be grateful for some pointers.

Incidentally, Alcaraz/Hughes/Campos define "arbitrariedad" as "arbitrariness" or "abuse of negligence", but I don't think those terms are in any way helpful, particularly "abuse of negligence", whatever that might mean (I imagine it's actually a mistake).

Thanks in advance!
Robert Carter
Local time: 06:46

Summary of answers provided
4protection from administrative arbitrariness
Francois Boye
3protection against arbitrary (and discriminatory) measures
Summary of reference entries provided
liz askew
To get the ball rolling
Helena Chavarria
The official translation
Charles Davis

Discussion entries: 16



3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
protection against arbitrary (and discriminatory) measures

Protection against Arbitrary or Discriminatory Measures

the pretext of a decision based on law was the decisive criterion for the application of this standard. Lauder v. The Czech Republic16 concerned the same set of facts. The BIT between the Czech Republic and the United States provides protection against “arbitrary and discriminatory measures.” The tribunal pointed out that ...

Arbitrary and Capricious Law and Legal Definition | USLegal, Inc.

In U.S this is one of the basic standards for review of appeals. Under the "arbitrary and capricious" standard, the finding of a lower court will not be disturbed unless it has no reasonable basis. When a judge makes a decision without reasonable grounds or adequate consideration of the circumstances, it is said to be arbitrary ...

ule Of Law Offers Protection For Citizens - Law Teacher

Rule of law is a general legal maxim [4] according to which decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws, without the intervention of discretion in their application. [5] This maxim is intended to be a safeguard against arbitrary governance. The word "arbitrary" signifies a judgment made at the discretion of ...
[PDF]The exceptions to Articles 8-11 of the European Convention on ...

others, and the protection of health, morals or public order/ordre public (or the prevention of disorder) can justify .... stances of the legal rules applicable to a given case”.18 For example, in. Silver the Court held that the Standing Orders .... ual adequate protection against arbitrary interference.33. The Strasbourg organs have ...

Note added at 5 hrs (2018-03-09 23:25:28 GMT)

My problem with "prohibition" is that arbitrary decisions simply happen and cannot be "prohibited". I think in English we would say that the law provides for protection from such decisions by means of the appeal system.

United Kingdom
Local time: 12:46
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 1373

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Robin Levey: The constitution states that arbitrariness is "prohibited" (La constitición garantiza ... la interdicción ...") The means to secure "protection" are to be found elsewhere in the legal system.
1 hr
  -> I capitulate. The cosnstitution says what the constitution says. You are correct,
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5 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
protection from administrative arbitrariness


Note added at 9 hrs (2018-03-10 03:29:48 GMT)

'administration' has a US meaning. It means the executive branch of government, i.e., what non Americans call the government

Francois Boye
United States
Local time: 07:46
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in category: 129
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Reference comments

43 mins
Reference: see

Reference information:
Kylie Stephen, ‎Fiona Beveridge, ‎Susan Nott - 2018 - ‎Social Science
Several articles of the Spanish Constitution (SC) deal with gender equality, establishing it as a superior value to be pursued and protected. Article 9. 2 SC sets out ... authorities and is directly related to the ****prohibition on arbitrary action**** by public authorities set out elsewhere in the Constitution.23 The second part of Article 14.

Note added at 50 mins (2018-03-09 19:11:31 GMT)
Jarrod Hepburn - 2017 - ‎Law
... protects investors against arbitrary host state conduct.133 As well as the ubiquitous FET clause, some BITs also contain a ***prohibition on 'arbitrary or discriminatory measures'*** or 'unreasonable or discriminatory measures'.134 There is debate over the effectiveness of this prohibition when placed alongside an FET clause.

liz askew
United Kingdom
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 256
Note to reference poster
Asker: Thank you, Liz.

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24 mins peer agreement (net): +1
Reference: To get the ball rolling

Reference information:
3. The Constitution guarantees the principle of legality, the hierarchy of legal provisions, the publicity of legal enactments, the nonretroactivity of punitive measures that are unfavourable to or restrict individual rights, the certainty that the rule of law will prevail, the accountability of the public authorities, and the prohibition against arbitrary action on the part of the latter.

arbitrario, ria
Del lat. arbitrarius.

1. adj. Sujeto a la libre voluntad o al capricho antes que a la ley o a la razón.

1. f. Cualidad o condición de arbitrario.

Del lat. interdicĕre.

Conjug. c. decir, salvo la 2.ª pers. sing. del imper.: interdice; part. irreg. interdicho.

1. tr. p. us. vedar (‖ prohibir).

Del lat. interdictio, -ōnis.

1. f. Acción y efecto de interdecir.

interdicción civil

1. f. Privación de derechos civiles definida por la ley.

Note added at 40 mins (2018-03-09 19:01:16 GMT)

21. For example, when addressing the issue of “the rule of law as part of the core mission of the Council of Europe”, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe quoted a number of documents referring to such concept, but it also noted that “the foregoing overviews are not sufficient to allow the drawing up of a list of key rule of law requirements accepted by the Council of Europe, let alone a definition”.11 This leads the document to state that “the Organisation works pragmatically on a daily basis to promote and strengthen the rule of law in and among its member states”. However, this pragmatic and ad hoc approach appears to be giving way to a consensus on including, in the rule of law, specific reference to requirements such as the prohibition of arbitrariness, the right to seek redress from independent judges in open courts, legal certainty and equality of all before the law.

The necessary six elements, according to the Venice Commission, are the following:

i. Legality, including a transparent, accountable and democratic process for enacting law,

ii. Legal certainty,

iii. Prohibition of arbitrariness,

iv. Access to justice before independent and impartial courts, including judicial review of administrative acts,

v. Respect for human rights,

vi. Non-discrimination and equality before the law.

Those principles include legality, which implies a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws; legal certainty; prohibition of arbitrariness of the executive powers; independent and impartial courts; effective judicial review including respect for fundamental rights; and equality before the law.

I think 'prohibition of the arbitrariness of the executive powers' might work.

Note added at 50 mins (2018-03-09 19:11:40 GMT)

Arbitrariness is the quality of being "determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle".


Arbitrary comes from the Latin arbitrarius, the source of arbiter; someone who is tasked to judge some matter. An arbitrary legal judgment is a decision made at the discretion of the judge, not one that is fixed by law. In some countries, a prohibition of arbitrariness is enshrined into the constitution. Article 9 of the Swiss Federal Constitution theoretically overrides even democratic decisions in prohibiting arbitrary government action. The US Supreme Court has overturned laws for having "no rational basis." A recent study of the U.S. asylum system suggests that arbitrariness in decision-making might be the cause of large disparities in outcomes between different adjudicators, a phenomenon described as refugee roulette.

Note added at 1 hr (2018-03-09 20:00:39 GMT)

Personally, I wouldn't change the original but another way of expressing the idea is 'prevalence of the rule of law'.

Helena Chavarria
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 337
Note to reference poster
Asker: Thanks, Helena. What I'm wondering is whether perhaps an equivalent term already exists for this in English, like the one I mentioned "abuse of discretion", which seems to be the same idea, only with regard to the courts. I was thinking of something like "abuse of power", but that's probably too broad.

Peer comments on this reference comment (and responses from the reference poster)
agree  AllegroTrans
2 hrs
  -> Thank you, AllegroTrans :-) I'm sorry I haven't agreed to your answer but I would keep 'prohibition'.
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1 hr peer agreement (net): +2
Reference: The official translation

Reference information:
"Section 9
1. Citizens and public authorities are bound by the Constitution and all other legal provisions.
2. It is the responsibility of the public authorities to promote conditions ensuring that freedom and equality of individuals and of the groups to which they belong are real and effective, to remove the obstacles preventing or hindering their full enjoyment, and to facilitate the participation of all citizens in political, economic, cultural and social life.
3. The Constitution guarantees the principle of legality, the hierarchy of legal provisions, the publicity of legal statutes, the non-retroactivity of punitive provisions that are not favourable to or restrictive of individual rights, the certainty that the rule of law shall prevail, the accountability of public authorities, and the prohibition of arbitrary action of public authorities."

Note added at 1 hr (2018-03-09 20:09:13 GMT)

I have to see this seems OK to me.

Note added at 1 hr (2018-03-09 20:09:38 GMT)

(I have to say, I mean.)

Charles Davis
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 1299
Note to reference poster
Asker: Thanks, Charles. I'm certainly coming round to "arbitrary action", although my main question was really about whether we have a ready-made phrase for this in English, which I have a vague sense of having seen somewhere, who knows how long ago.

Peer comments on this reference comment (and responses from the reference poster)
agree  AllegroTrans: well yes, but surely protection "from" and "the" arbitrary action // good point but I don't see how arbitrary decisions can be "prohibited" (they happen anyway and hopefully the law provides protection through the appeal system)
1 hr
  -> I don't think "interdicción" can mean "protection". With "of" following, "arbitrary action" would perhaps be better with an article, but I don't think it's essential.
agree  Robin Levey: Yes, I'd say so too. "The Constitution guarantees ... the prohibition of arbitrary action of public authorities" is a perfectly valid translation.
3 hrs
  -> Thanks, Robin
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