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Article

Access_open The Common Law Remedy of Habeas Corpus Through the Prism of a Twelve-Point Construct

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2021
Keywords Habeas corpus, common law, detainee, consitution, liberty
Authors Chuks Okpaluba and Anthony Nwafor
AbstractAuthor's information

    Long before the coming of the Bill of Rights in written Constitutions, the common law has had the greatest regard for the personal liberty of the individual. In order to safeguard that liberty, the remedy of habeas corpus was always available to persons deprived of their liberty unlawfully. This ancient writ has been incorporated into the modern Constitution as a fundamental right and enforceable as other rights protected by virtue of their entrenchment in those Constitutions. This article aims to bring together the various understanding of habeas corpus at common law and the principles governing the writ in common law jurisdictions. The discussion is approached through a twelve-point construct thus providing a brief conspectus of the subject matter, such that one could have a better understanding of the subject as applied in most common law jurisdictions.


Chuks Okpaluba
Chuks Okpaluba, LLB LLM (London), PhD (West Indies), is a Research Fellow at the Free State Centre for Human Rights, University of the Free State, South Africa. Email: okpaluba@mweb.co.za.

Anthony Nwafor
Anthony O. Nwafor, LLB, LLM, (Nigeria), PhD (UniJos), BL, is Professor at the School of Law, University of Venda, South Africa. Email: Anthony.Nwafor@univen.ac.za.
Article

Access_open Mechanisms for Correcting Judicial Errors in Germany

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords criminal proceedings, retrial in favour of the convicted, retrial to the disadvantage of the defendant, Germany, judicial errors
Authors Michael Lindemann and Fabienne Lienau
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article presents the status quo of the law of retrial in Germany and gives an overview of the law and practice of the latter in favour of the convicted and to the disadvantage of the defendant. Particularly, the formal and material prerequisites for a successful petition to retry the criminal case are subject to a detailed presentation and evaluation. Because no official statistics are kept regarding successful retrial processes in Germany, the actual number of judicial errors is primarily the subject of more or less well-founded estimates by legal practitioners and journalists. However, there are a few newer empirical studies devoted to different facets of the subject. These studies will be discussed in this article in order to outline the state of empirical research on the legal reality of the retrial procedure. Against this background, the article will ultimately highlight currently discussed reforms and subject these to a critical evaluation as well. The aim of the recent reform efforts is to add a ground for retrial to the disadvantage of the defendant for cases in which new facts or evidence indicate that the acquitted person was guilty. After detailed discussion, the proposal in question is rejected, inter alia for constitutional reasons.


Michael Lindemann
Michael Lindemann is Professor for Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Criminology at the Faculty of Law of Bielefeld University, Germany.

Fabienne Lienau
Fabienne Lienau is Research Assistant at the Chair held by Michael Lindemann.
Article

Access_open The Challenges for England’s Post-Conviction Review Body

Deference to Juries, the Principle of Finality and the Court of Appeal

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords wrongful conviction, criminal justice, Criminal Cases Review Commission, Court of Appeal, discretion
Authors Carolyn Hoyle
AbstractAuthor's information

    Since 1997, the Criminal Cases Review Commission of England, Wales and Northern Ireland has served as a state-funded post-conviction body to consider claims of wrongful conviction for those who have exhausted their rights to appeal. A meticulous organisation that has over its lifetime referred over 700 cases back to the Court of Appeal, resulting in over 60% of those applicants having their convictions quashed, it is nonetheless restricted in its response to cases by its own legislation. This shapes its decision-making in reviewing cases, causing it to be somewhat deferential to the original jury, to the principle of finality and, most importantly, to the Court of Appeal, the only institution that can overturn a wrongful conviction. In mandating such deference, the legislation causes the Commission to have one eye on the Court’s evolving jurisprudence but leaves room for institutional and individual discretion, evidenced in some variability in responses across the Commission. While considerable variability would be difficult to defend, some inconsistency raises the prospects for a shift towards a less deferential referral culture. This article draws on original research by the author to consider the impact of institutional deference on the work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission and argues for a slightly bolder approach in its work


Carolyn Hoyle
Carolyn Hoyle is Professor of Criminology at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, UK.
Article

Access_open Exoneration in Sweden

Is It Not about Time to Reform the Swedish Model?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords wrongful convictions, extraordinary legal remedy, exoneration, exoneration in Sweden
Authors Dennis Martinsson
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article reviews exoneration in Sweden, with a focus on the procedure of applying for exoneration. First, it highlights some core features of Swedish criminal procedural law, necessary to understand exoneration in the Swedish context. Secondly, it outlines the possibilities in Swedish law to apply for exoneration, both in favour of a convicted person and to the disadvantage of a previously acquitted defendant. Thirdly, it identifies some challenges with the current Swedish model of administering applications for exoneration. Fourthly, it argues that the current system should be reformed by introducing into Swedish law a review committee that administers applications for exoneration.


Dennis Martinsson
Dennis Martinsson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Law of Stockholm University in Sweden.
Article

Access_open A European Approach to Revision in Criminal Matters?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Authors Joost Nan, Nina Holvast and Sjarai Lestrade
Author's information

Joost Nan
Joost Nan is Associate Professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Nina Holvast
Nina Holvast is Assistant Professor at the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Sjarai Lestrade
Sjarai Lestrade is Assistant Professor at the Radboud University Nijmegen.
Article

Access_open Between Legal Certainty and Doubt

The Developments in the Procedure to Overturn Wrongful Convictions in the Netherlands

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords revision law, post-conviction review, wrongful convictions, miscarriages of justice, criminal law, empirical research
Authors Nina Holvast, Joost Nan and Sjarai Lestrade
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Dutch legislature has recently (2012) altered the legislation for post-conviction revision of criminal cases. The legislature aimed to improve the balance between the competing interests of individual justice and the finality of verdicts, by making post-conviction revision more accessible. In this article we describe the current legal framework for revising cases. We also study how the revision procedure functions in practice, by looking at the types and numbers of (successful) requests for further investigations and applications for revision. We observe three challenges in finding the right balance in the revision process in the Netherlands. These challenges concern: 1) the scope of the novum criterion (which is strict), 2) the appropriate role of an advisory committee (the ACAS) in revision cases (functioning too much as a pre-filter for the Supreme Court) and, 3) the difficulties that arise due to requiring a defence council when requesting a revision (e.g., financial burdens).


Nina Holvast
Nina Holvast is Assistant Professor at the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Joost Nan
Joost Nan is Associate Professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Sjarai Lestrade
Sjarai Lestrade is Assistant Professor at the Radboud University Nijmegen.

    States apply different material conditions to attract or restrict residence of certain types of migrants. But states can also make use of time as an instrument to design more welcoming or more restrictive policies. States can apply faster application procedures for desired migrants. Furthermore, time can be used in a more favourable way to attract desired migrants in regard to duration of residence, access to a form of permanent residence and protection against loss of residence. This contribution makes an analysis of how time is used as an instrument in shaping migration policy by the European Union (EU) legislator in the context of making migration more or less attractive. This analysis shows that two groups are treated more favourably in regard to the use of time in several aspects: EU citizens and economic- and knowledge-related third-country nationals. However, when it comes to the acquisition of permanent residence after a certain period of time, the welcoming policy towards economic- and knowledge-related migrants is no longer obvious.


Gerrie Lodder
Gerrie Lodder is lecturer and researcher at the Europa Institute of Leiden University.
Article

Access_open Can Non-discrimination Law Change Hearts and Minds?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords law and society, social change, discrimination, non-discrimination law, positive action
Authors Anita Böcker
AbstractAuthor's information

    A question that has preoccupied sociolegal scholars for ages is whether law can change ‘hearts and minds’. This article explores whether non-discrimination law can create social change, and, more particularly, whether it can change attitudes and beliefs as well as external behaviour. The first part examines how sociolegal scholars have theorised about the possibility and desirability of using law as an instrument of social change. The second part discusses the findings of empirical research on the social working of various types of non-discrimination law. What conclusions can be drawn about the ability of non-discrimination law to create social change? What factors influence this ability? And can non-discrimination law change people’s hearts and minds as well as their behaviour? The research literature does not provide an unequivocal answer to the latter question. However, the overall picture emerging from the sociolegal literature is that law is generally more likely to bring about changes in external behaviour and that it can influence attitudes and beliefs only indirectly, by altering the situations in which attitudes and opinions are formed.


Anita Böcker
Anita Böcker is associate professor of Sociology of Law at Radboud University, Nijmegen.
Article

Access_open The Potential of Positive Obligations Against Romaphobic Attitudes and in the Development of ‘Roma Pride’

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Roma, Travellers, positive obligations, segregation, culturally adequate accommodation
Authors Lilla Farkas and Theodoros Alexandridis
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article analyses the jurisprudence of international tribunals on the education and housing of Roma and Travellers to understand whether positive obligations can change the hearts and minds of the majority and promote minority identities. Case law on education deals with integration rather than cultural specificities, while in the context of housing it accommodates minority needs. Positive obligations have achieved a higher level of compliance in the latter context by requiring majorities to tolerate the minority way of life in overwhelmingly segregated settings. Conversely, little seems to have changed in education, where legal and institutional reform, as well as a shift in both majority and minority attitudes, would be necessary to dismantle social distance and generate mutual trust. The interlocking factors of accessibility, judicial activism, European politics, expectations of political allegiance and community resources explain jurisprudential developments. The weak justiciability of minority rights, the lack of resources internal to the community and dual identities among the Eastern Roma impede legal claims for culture-specific accommodation in education. Conversely, the protection of minority identity and community ties is of paramount importance in the housing context, subsumed under the right to private and family life.


Lilla Farkas
Lilla Farkas is a practising lawyer in Hungary and recently earned a PhD from the European University Institute entitled ‘Mobilising for racial equality in Europe: Roma rights and transnational justice’. She is the race ground coordinator of the European Union’s Network of Legal Experts in Gender Equality and Non-discrimination.

Theodoros Alexandridis
Theodoros Alexandridis is a practicing lawyer in Greece.

    The entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) pushed state obligations to counter prejudice and stereotypes concerning people with disabilities to the forefront of international human rights law. The CRPD is underpinned by a model of inclusive equality, which views disability as a social construct that results from the interaction between persons with impairments and barriers, including attitudinal barriers, that hinder their participation in society. The recognition dimension of inclusive equality, together with the CRPD’s provisions on awareness raising, mandates that states parties target prejudice and stereotypes about the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities to society. Certain human rights treaty bodies, including the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and, to a much lesser extent, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, require states to eradicate harmful stereotypes and prejudice about people with disabilities in various forms of interpersonal relationships. This trend is also reflected, to a certain extent, in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. This article assesses the extent to which the aforementioned human rights bodies have elaborated positive obligations requiring states to endeavour to change ‘hearts and minds’ about the inherent capabilities and contributions of people with disabilities. It analyses whether these bodies have struck the right balance in elaborating positive obligations to eliminate prejudice and stereotypes in interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, it highlights the convergences or divergences that are evident in the bodies’ approaches to those obligations.


Andrea Broderick
Andrea Broderick is Assistant Professor at the Universiteit Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open South African Mandatory Offers Regime: Assessing Minorities’ Leverage to Seek Recourse and Equal Treatment in Takeover Bids

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2020
Keywords company takeovers, mandatory offers, minority shareholders, equal treatment, acquisition procedure
Authors Paul Nkoane
AbstractAuthor's information

    A firm intention announcement must be made when the offeror is able and willing to acquire securities, and when a mandatory offer must be made. When the firm intention announcement is implemented, some sort of a contract is created. This rule has helped to determine the particular time the offeror should be liable to minorities. The question of when the offeror should bear the obligation to implement mandatory offers in aborted takeovers is thus no more problematic. Previously, the courts wrestled with this issue, but delivered what appears to be unsatisfactory decisions. This article will discuss the effect of a firm intention announcement and the responsibility that attends the making of that announcement. It intends to illustrate the extent of liability the offeror must bear in the event of a lapsed takeover, before and after the making of the firm intention announcement. The article examines the manner in which takeover rules can be enforced, and whether the current measures afford minorities proper protection. This brings to light the issue of equal treatment in takeovers and the fallacy thereof. A minor appraisal of the takeover rules in two jurisdictions in Europe (the United Kingdom and the Netherlands) is conducted to assess how equal treatment for minorities is promoted. Due to the difficulty minorities may experience in enforcing equal treatment in company takeovers, the article advocates for the alteration of the current South African takeover procedure for the promotion of minorities’ interests and for establishing rules that provide the offeror adequate information.


Paul Nkoane
Paul Nkoane is lecturer at the College of Law of the University of South Africa in Pretoria.
Article

Access_open Putting the Dutch Child Labour Due Diligence Act into Perspective

An Assessment of the CLDD Act’s Legal and Policy Relevance in the Netherlands and Beyond

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords Mandatory Due Diligence, Responsible Business Conduct, Child Labour Due Diligence Act
Authors Liesbeth Enneking
AbstractAuthor's information

    In May 2019, the Dutch senate adopted a private member’s bill introducing a due diligence obligation for companies bringing goods or services onto the Dutch market with respect to the use of child labour in their supply chains. The aim of this article is to place this Child Labour Due Diligence (CLDD) Act in the national and international legal context and to discuss its relevance for the broader debate on international responsible business conduct (IRBC) in global value chains. The article shows that the CLDD Act introduces a due diligence obligation in this context that is new to Dutch law, as is the public law supervisor that is to be tasked with its enforcement. However, it does nothing to broaden the possibilities for access to remedies for victims of child labour beyond those already in existence. The article also shows that when compared with 2017 the French Duty of Vigilance Law, which is the only other mandatory due diligence law to have been adopted so far, the CLDD Act stands out in several respects. It is overshadowed, however, by the European parliament’s recent adoption of an ambitious outline for a future EU due diligence directive. Nonetheless, in view of the fact that it remains unclear for now whether the future EU directive on this topic will display the same level of ambition as the current proposal, the CLDD Act will remain relevant from an international perspective also for some time to come.


Liesbeth Enneking
Liesbeth Enneking is Professor of Legal Aspects of International Corporate Social Responsibility at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Article

Access_open The Dutch International Responsible Business Conduct Agreements

Effective Initiatives?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords IRBC Agreements, effectiveness, OECD due diligence, access to remedy
Authors Martijn Scheltema
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution analyses the effectiveness of the Dutch International Responsible Business Conduct (IRBC) agreements and suggests some avenues for improvement. Several challenges in connection with effectiveness have been identified in evaluations of the IRBC agreements, and these are used as a starting point for the analysis. The focus is on three themes: (i) uptake, leverage and collaboration; (ii) implementation of OECD due diligence including monitoring and (iii) access to remedy. This contribution shows that low uptake may not be a sign of ineffectiveness per se, although in terms of leverage a sufficient number of participants or collaboration between agreements seems important. In connection with due diligence, it is recommended to align the implementation of OECD due diligence. Furthermore, an effective monitoring mechanism by a secretariat, as is currently implemented in the Textile agreement only, is most likely to bring about material changes in business behaviour. Other types of supervision seem less effective. Access to remedy poses a challenge in all IRBC agreements. It is recommended that the expectations the agreements have on access to remedy be clarified, also in connection with the role of signatories to the agreements in cases where they are directly linked to human rights abuse. Furthermore, it is recommended that a dispute resolution mechanism be introduced that enables complaints for external stakeholders against business signatories, comparable to that of the Textile agreement. However, rather than implementing separate mechanisms in all agreements, an overarching mechanism for all agreements should be introduced.


Martijn Scheltema
Martijn Scheltema is Professor of Private law at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Introduction

Access_open Towards Responsible Business Conduct in Global Value Chains

Relevant Legal Developments in the Netherlands

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords responsible business conduct, business and human rights, corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, the Netherlands
Authors Liesbeth Enneking and Jeroen Veldman
AbstractAuthor's information

    The past few decades have seen an increasing scrutiny of the impacts – both positive and negative – that companies have on the societies in which they operate. The search for adequate responses to such scrutiny is reflected in developments in the societal, political and academic debate on three separate but interrelated concepts: corporate social responsibility, business and human rights and responsible business conduct. The focus in this Special Issue will be on law and policy relating to responsible business conduct in global value chains. The contributions in this Special Issue identify relevant developments and institutions in the Netherlands, including rules and regulations related to trade, investment and corporate governance as well as cases related to corporate and consumer responsibilities, and assess their role in relation to the potential to provide a positive response to the concern about the human and environmental impacts of business activities. Together, they provide a multi-perspective view of relevant gaps and/or best practices with regard to regulatory governance in the Netherlands while at the same time enabling a comparative debate on the extent to which these diverse developments and institutions are in line with stated policy goals in this context both at national and EU levels. In doing so, this Special Issue aims to contribute to further coherence between national and EU policies with regard to RBC in global value chains and sustainable development.


Liesbeth Enneking
Liesbeth Enneking is Professor of Legal Aspects of International Corporate Social Responsibility at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Jeroen Veldman
Jeroen Veldman is Visiting Associate Professor at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Visiting Associate Professor at Mines Paristech, Interdisciplinary Institute for Innovation, Paris and Section Editor Corporate Governance at the Journal of Business Ethics.
Article

Access_open The New Dutch Model Investment Agreement

On the Road to Sustainability or Keeping up Appearances?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords Dutch model BIT, foreign direct investment, bilateral investment treaties, investor-to-state dispute settlement, sustainable development goals
Authors Alessandra Arcuri and Bart-Jaap Verbeek
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2019, the Dutch government presented a New Model Investment Agreement that seeks to contribute to the sustainability and inclusivity of future Dutch trade and investment policy. This article offers a critical analysis of the most relevant parts of the revised model text in order to appraise to what extent it could promote sustainability and inclusivity. It starts by providing an overview of the Dutch BIT (Bilateral Investment Treaty) programme, where the role of the Netherlands as a favourite conduit country for global FDI is highlighted. In the article, we identify the reasons why the Netherlands became a preferred jurisdiction for foreign investors and the negative implications for governments and their policy space to advance sustainable development. The 2019 model text is expressly set out to achieve a fairer system and to protect ‘sustainable investment in the interest of development’. While displaying a welcome engagement with key values of sustainable development, this article identifies a number of weaknesses of the 2019 model text. Some of the most criticised substantive and procedural provisions are being reproduced in the model text, including the reiteration of investors’ legitimate expectation as an enforceable right, the inclusion of an umbrella clause, and the unaltered broad coverage of investments. Most notably, the model text continues to marginalise the interests of investment-affected communities and stakeholders, while bestowing exclusive rights and privileges on foreign investors. The article concludes by hinting at possible reforms to better align existing and future Dutch investment treaties with the sustainable development goals.


Alessandra Arcuri
Alessandra Arcuri is Professor at Erasmus School of Law and Erasmus Initiative Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Bart-Jaap Verbeek
Bart-Jaap Verbeek is Researcher at Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen (SOMO) and PhD Candidate Political Science at the Radboud University.
Article

Access_open Due Diligence and Supply Chain Responsibilities in Specific Instances

The Compatibility of the Dutch National Contact Point’s Decisions With the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in the Light of Decisions Made by the UK, German, Danish and Norwegian National Contact Points

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords due diligence, supply chain, OECD, NCP, specific instance
Authors Sander van ’t Foort
AbstractAuthor's information

    Since the introduction of a human rights chapter in the 2011 OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, National Contact Points (NCPs) have been increasingly dealing with specific instances referring to human rights violations by companies. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the human rights provisions are the most cited provisions of the Guidelines. Specific instances include allegations such as a company’s failure to implement human rights due diligence, to apply the principles of free, prior and informed consent, to take supply chain responsibility, and/or to comply with the right to cultural heritage. Of all topics, human rights due diligence and human rights supply chain responsibilities are most commonly referred to in complaints based on the Guidelines. This article focuses on how NCPs have handled these topics of human rights due diligence and supply chain responsibility in specific instances. The Dutch NCP has been selected because it is celebrated in literature as the ‘gold standard’ because of its composition including independent members, its forward-looking approach, and because it is one of the most active NCPs in the world. All decisions of the Dutch NCP concerning these two topics are analysed in the light of the decisions of four other NCPs (UK, Denmark, Germany and Norway). A doctrinal methodology is used to analyse similarities and differences between the argumentations of the five NCPs.


Sander van ’t Foort
Sander van ’t Foort is Lecturer at Nyenrode Business University.
Article

Access_open The Brussels International Business Court: Initial Overview and Analysis

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2019
Keywords international jurisdiction, English, court language, Belgium, business court
Authors Erik Peetermans and Philippe Lambrecht
AbstractAuthor's information

    In establishing the Brussels International Business Court (BIBC), Belgium is following an international trend to attract international business disputes to English-speaking state courts. The BIBC will be an autonomous business court with the competence to settle, in English, disputes between companies throughout Belgium. This article focuses on the BIBC’s constitutionality, composition, competence, proceedings and funding, providing a brief analysis and critical assessment of each of these points. At the time of writing, the Belgian Federal Parliament has not yet definitively passed the Bill establishing the BIBC, meaning that amendments are still possible.


Erik Peetermans
Erik Peetermans is a legal adviser at the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (FEB).

Philippe Lambrecht
Philippe Lambrecht is the Director-Secretary General at the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (FEB).
Article

Access_open Right to Access Information as a Collective-Based Approach to the GDPR’s Right to Explanation in European Law

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2018
Keywords automated decision-making, right to access information, right to explanation, prohibition on discrimination, public information
Authors Joanna Mazur
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article presents a perspective which focuses on the right to access information as a mean to ensure a non-discriminatory character of algorithms by providing an alternative to the right to explanation implemented in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). I adopt the evidence-based assumption that automated decision-making technologies have an inherent discriminatory potential. The example of a regulatory means which to a certain extent addresses this problem is the approach based on privacy protection in regard to the right to explanation. The Articles 13-15 and 22 of the GDPR provide individual users with certain rights referring to the automated decision-making technologies. However, the right to explanation not only may have a very limited impact, but it also focuses on individuals thus overlooking potentially discriminated groups. Because of this, the article offers an alternative approach on the basis of the right to access information. It explores the possibility of using this right as a tool to receive information on the algorithms determining automated decision-making solutions. Tracking an evolution of the interpretation of Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Right and Fundamental Freedoms in the relevant case law aims to illustrate how the right to access information may become a collective-based approach towards the right to explanation. I consider both, the potential of this approach, such as its more collective character e.g. due to the unique role played by the media and NGOs in enforcing the right to access information, as well as its limitations.


Joanna Mazur
Joanna Mazur, M.A., PhD student, Faculty of Law and Administration, Uniwersytet Warszawski.
Article

Access_open Evidence-Based Regulation and the Translation from Empirical Data to Normative Choices: A Proportionality Test

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2018
Keywords evidence-based, regulation, proportionality, empirical law studies, law and society studies
Authors Rob van Gestel and Peter van Lochem
AbstractAuthor's information

    Studies have shown that the effects of scientific research on law and policy making are often fairly limited. Different reasons can be given for this: scientists are better at falsifying hypothesis than at predicting the future, the outcomes of academic research and empirical evidence can be inconclusive or even contradictory, the timing of the legislative cycle and the production of research show mismatches, there can be clashes between the political rationality and the economic or scientific rationality in the law making process et cetera. There is one ‘wicked’ methodological problem, though, that affects all regulatory policy making, namely: the ‘jump’ from empirical facts (e.g. there are too few organ donors in the Netherlands and the voluntary registration system is not working) to normative recommendations of what the law should regulate (e.g. we need to change the default rule so that everybody in principle becomes an organ donor unless one opts out). We are interested in how this translation process takes place and whether it could make a difference if the empirical research on which legislative drafts are build is more quantitative type of research or more qualitative. That is why we have selected two cases in which either type of research played a role during the drafting phase. We use the lens of the proportionality principle in order to see how empirical data and scientific evidence are used by legislative drafters to justify normative choices in the design of new laws.


Rob van Gestel
Rob van Gestel is professor of theory and methods of regulation at Tilburg University.

Peter van Lochem
Dr. Peter van Lochem is jurist and sociologist and former director of the Academy for Legislation.

    In May 2017, the Ogiek indigenous community of Kenya successfully challenged the denial of their land and associated rights before the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights (‘the Court’). In the first indigenous peoples’ rights case considered the Court, and by far the largest ever case it has had to consider, the Court found violations of Articles 1, 2, 8, 14, 17 (2) and (3), 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘the African Charter’). It therefore created a major legal precedent. In addition, the litigation itself and Ogiek’s participation in the various stages of the legal process provided a model for community engagement, through which the Ogiek were empowered to better understand and advocate for their rights. This article will first explain the history of the case and the Court’s findings, and then move on to examine in further detail methods employed to build the Ogiek’s capacity throughout, and even beyond, the litigation.


Lucy Claridge
Legal Director, Minority Rights Group International.
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