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Article

Access_open Unexpected Circumstances arising from World War I and its Aftermath: ‘Open’ versus ‘Closed’ Legal Systems

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2014
Keywords First World War, law of obligations, unforeseen circumstances, force majeure, frustration of contracts
Authors Janwillem Oosterhuis Ph.D.
AbstractAuthor's information

    European jurisdictions can be distinguished in ‘open’ and ‘closed’ legal systems in respect of their approach to unexpected circumstances occurring in contractual relations. In this article, it will be argued that this distinction can be related to the judiciary’s reaction in certain countries to the economic consequences of World War I. The first point to be highlighted will be the rather strict approach to unexpected circumstances in contract law that many jurisdictions had before the war – including England, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Secondly, the judicial approach in England, France, Germany, and the Netherlands to unexpected circumstances arising from the war will be briefly analysed. It will appear that all of the aforementioned jurisdictions remained ‘closed’. Subsequently, the reaction of the judiciary in these jurisdictions to the economic circumstances in the aftermath of the war, (hyper)inflation in particular, will be analysed. Germany, which experienced hyperinflation in the immediate aftermath of the war, developed an ‘open’ system, using the doctrine of the Wegfall der Geschäftsgrundlage. In the Netherlands, this experience failed to have an impact: indeed, in judicial practice the Netherlands appears to have a ‘closed’ legal system nevertheless, save for an ‘exceptional’ remedy in the new Dutch Civil Code, Article 6:258 of the Burgerlijk Wetboek (1992). In conclusion, the hypothesis is put forward that generally only in jurisdictions that have experienced exceptional economic upheaval, such as the hyperinflation in the wake of World War I, ‘exceptional’ remedies addressing unexpected circumstances can have a lasting effect on the legal system.


Janwillem Oosterhuis Ph.D.
Janwillem Oosterhuis is Assistant Professor in Methods and Foundations of Law at the Maastricht University Faculty of Law.
Article

Access_open How Law Manifests Itself in Australian Aboriginal Art

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3/4 2013
Keywords legal pluralism, native title, reconciliation, indigenous people of Australia, Aboriginal art
Authors Dr. Agnes T.M. Dr. Schreiner
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article How Law Manifests Itself in Australian Aboriginal Art will discuss two events at the Aboriginal Art Museum Utrecht from the perspective of a meeting between two artistic and legal cultures. The first event, on the art and law of the Spinifex people, will prove to be of a private law nature, whilst the second event, on the art and law of the Wik People, will show characteristics of international public law. This legal anthropological contribution may frustrate a pluralistic perspective with regard to the coexistence of Western law and Aboriginal law on the one hand and of Utrecht's Modern Art Museum and the presented Aboriginal Art on the other. It will show instead the self-evidence of art and law presented and their intertwined connection for the Aboriginal or indigenous peoples of Australia.


Dr. Agnes T.M. Dr. Schreiner
Agnes T.M. Schreiner studied Law and is Lecturer on several themes of the General Jurisprudence at the Law Faculty, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Within the Masterprogram European Private law she teaches the course Anthropology of European Private Law. She received her Ph.D. in 1990. She has specialized in a series of subjects: Law & Media, Law & Arts, Law & Rituals, Law & Culture, Law & Semiotics and Law & Social Sciences.
Article

Access_open At the Crossroads of National and European Union Law. Experiences of National Judges in a Multi-level Legal Order

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3/4 2013
Keywords national judges, legal pluralism, application of EU law, legal consciousness, supremacy and direct effect of EU law
Authors Urszula Jaremba Ph.D.
AbstractAuthor's information

    The notion and theory of legal pluralism have been witnessing an increasing interest on part of scholars. The theory that originates from the legal anthropological studies and is one of the major topical streams in the realm of socio-legal studies slowly but steady started to become a point of departure for other disciplines. Unavoidably it has also gained attention from the scholars in the realm of the law of the European Union. It is the aim of the present article to illustrate the legal reality in which the law of the Union and the national laws coexist and intertwine with each other and, subsequently, to provide some insight on the manner national judges personally construct their own understanding of this complex legal architecture and the problems they come across in that respect. In that sense, the present article not only illustrates the new, pluralistic legal environment that came into being with the founding of the Communities, later the European Union, but also adds another dimension to this by presenting selected, empirical data on how national judges in several Member States of the EU individually perceive, adapt to, experience and make sense of this reality of overlapping and intertwining legal orders. Thus, the principal aim of this article is to illustrate how the pluralistic legal system works in the mind of a national judge and to capture the more day-to-day legal reality by showing how the law works on the ground through the lived experiences of national judges.


Urszula Jaremba Ph.D.
Urszula Jaremba, PhD, assistant professor at the Department of European Union Law, School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam. I am grateful to the editors of this Special Issue: Prof. Dr. Sanne Taekema and Dr. Wibo van Rossum as well as to the two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. I am also indebted to Dr. Tobias Nowak for giving me his consent to use the data concerning the Dutch and German judges in this article. This article is mostly based on a doctoral research project that resulted in a doctoral manuscript titled ‘Polish Civil Judges as European Union Law Judges: Knowledge, Experiences and Attitudes’, defended on the 5th of October 2012.

Stephen Waddams
Goodman/Schipper Professor of Law, University of Toronto.
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