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Article

Access_open Corporate Taxation and BEPS: A Fair Slice for Developing Countries?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2017
Keywords Fairness, international tax, legitimacy, BEPS, developing countries
Authors Irene Burgers and Irma Mosquera
AbstractAuthor's information

    The aim of this article is to examine the differences in perception of ‘fairness’ between developing and developed countries, which influence developing countries’ willingness to embrace the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) proposals and to recommend as to how to overcome these differences. The article provides an introduction to the background of the OECD’s BEPS initiatives (Action Plan, Low Income Countries Report, Multilateral Framework, Inclusive Framework) and the concerns of developing countries about their ability to implement BEPS (Section 1); a non-exhaustive overview of the shortcomings of the BEPS Project and its Action Plan in respect of developing countries (Section 2); arguments on why developing countries might perceive fairness in relation to corporate income taxes differently from developed countries (Section 3); and recommendations for international organisations, governments and academic researchers on where fairness in respect of developing countries should be more properly addressed (Section 4).


Irene Burgers
Irene Burgers is Professor of International and European Tax Law, Faculty of Law, and Professor of Economics of Taxation, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Groningen.

Irma Mosquera
Irma Mosquera, Ph.D. is Senior Research Associate at the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation IBFD and Tax Adviser Hamelink & Van den Tooren.
Article

Get Your Money’s Worth from Investment Advice

Analysing the Clash over the Knowledge and Competence Requirements in the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II)

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1-2 2017
Keywords Better Regulation, ESMA, financial regulation, expertise, MiFID II
Authors Aneta Spendzharova, Elissaveta Radulova and Kate Surala
AbstractAuthor's information

    This special issue aims to examine whether there is an enduring politicization in the European Union (EU) “Better Regulation” agenda despite the emphasis on neutral evidence-based policy making. Our article addresses this overarching research question by focusing on the use of stakeholder consultations in the case of financial sector governance, particularly, the amended Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II). We show that calibrating key provisions in MiFID II, such as those concerning knowledge and expertise, is not a simple exercise in rational problem definition and policy design. The provisions examined in this article have important repercussions for financial sector firms’ business strategies and operations. Thus, investment firms, banks, training institutes and public organizations have mobilized and actively sought to assert their views on the appropriate requirements for professional knowledge and experience in MiFID II. We found that, following the stakeholder consultation, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) opted for a minimum harmonization approach at the EU level. At the same time, ESMA also supported giving the respective national competent authorities sufficient remit to issue additional requirements in accordance with national laws and regulatory practices. Our article demonstrates that while public consultations provide rich evidence for the policy making process, they also contribute to the lasting politicization of regulatory decisions.


Aneta Spendzharova
Aneta Spendzharova is Assistant Professor in the Political Science department of Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

Elissaveta Radulova
Elissaveta Radulova is Assistant Professor in the Political Science department of Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

Kate Surala
Kate Surala is a graduate student in the MSc in Law and Finance, Pembroke College, University of Oxford, UK.
Article

Consultations, Citizen Narratives and Evidence-Based Regulation

The Strange Case of the Consultation on the Collaborative Economy

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1-2 2017
Keywords Better Regulation, consultations, evidence-based lawmaking, sharing economy, narratives
Authors Sofia Ranchordás
AbstractAuthor's information

    The 2015 Better Regulation Communication advocates an evidence-based approach to regulation, which includes better consultations and broader civic engagement. In this article, I consider the recent EU public consultation on the regulatory environment of online platforms and the collaborative economy. I enquire in this context whether citizens were seriously regarded as evidence providers and how their knowledge that materialized in individual narratives could contribute to more legitimate and thus better regulation. I argue that an evidence-based approach to regulation should also include citizen narratives as they can provide first-hand and diverse perspectives, which might not be considered in standard consultation questions. I contend that citizen narratives can be particularly useful in complex and rapidly evolving fields where there is still little empirical evidence and where participants are likely to have diverse personal experiences. Drawing on the literature on narratives, I contend that this method of collecting information can help regulators identify new problems and structure solutions in rapidly changing and diverse regulatory fields such as the collaborative economy.


Sofia Ranchordás
Sofia Ranchordás is an Assistant Professor of Administrative and Constitutional Law at Leiden Law School, the Netherlands, and Affiliated Fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.
Article

The Politicization of ex post Policy Evaluation in the EU

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1-2 2017
Keywords policy evaluation, Better Regulation, participation, REFIT, politicization
Authors Stijn Smismans
AbstractAuthor's information

    The European Commission’s 2015 Better Regulation package has placed ex post evaluation at the centre of European governance. This strengthens a trend of gradual politicization of evaluation in European policymaking. This article analyses how the European Commission’s approach to ex post policy evaluation has changed over the last decade. It shows how evaluation has developed from a rather technical process to a more politicized process, which is clearly linked to political priority setting, subject to centralized control, and involving a wider set of actors. At the same time, the Commission avoids a profound debate on the merits and objectives of the process of evaluation itself. The article concludes on the merits and risks of evaluation at times of rising populism.


Stijn Smismans
Stijn Smismans is a professor of law at the School of Law and Politics and director of the Centre for European Law and Governance at Cardiff University.
Editorial

The European Union’s New “Better Regulation” Agenda: Between Procedures and Politics

Introduction to the Special Issue

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1-2 2017
Authors Mariolina Eliantonio and Aneta Spendzharova
Author's information

Mariolina Eliantonio
Mariolina Eliantonio is Associate Professor of European Administrative Law at Maastricht University.

Aneta Spendzharova
Aneta Spendzharova is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Maastricht University.
Article

Why Better Regulation Demands Better Scrutiny of Results

The European Parliament’s Use of Performance Audits by the European Court of Auditors in ex post Impact Assessment

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1-2 2017
Keywords EU budget, European Parliamentary Research Service, policy evaluation, scrutiny, oversight
Authors Paul Stephenson
AbstractAuthor's information

    Ex post impact assessment (traditionally considered part of policy evaluation) received less attention in the preceding ‘Better Regulation’ package (2011) than ex ante impact assessment. Yet, the insights generated through ex post impact assessment provide crucial input for streamlining legislation. In recognition of its contribution, the current agenda (2015) extends the reach to policy evaluation, and from financial instruments to regulatory instruments. In light of existing experience with impact assessments in Commission Directorates-General (DGs), the European Union (EU) institutions have been increasingly aware of the need to develop staff expertise in ex post (policy) evaluation, which has in the past been largely outsourced to external parties. Making sense of collected input and incorporating it within impact assessment is time consuming. Indeed, taking up the findings for practical use is a challenge for political decision makers but essential for the purposes of accountability, scrutiny and institutional learning. The challenge is more so, given the wealth of information being generated by multiple parties and the increasing technical and financial complexity of certain policy areas. The role of the Commission as an advocate of ‘Better Regulation’ has been studied extensively. However, we know relatively little about the role of the European Parliament (EP) in ex post evaluation. This article contributes to the literature on ‘Better Regulation in the EU’ by shedding light on the EP activities in the realm of scrutiny and evaluation. In particular, it looks at the Parliament’s use of special reports produced by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) through its performance audit work and how it takes on board the findings and recommendations in its scrutiny of budgetary spending. Moreover, it examines the emerging role of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) in monitoring the outputs of the ECA and other bodies engaged in audit and evaluation, and thereby, the way in which the EPRS is helping increase the Parliament’s capacity for scrutiny and oversight.


Paul Stephenson
Maastricht University.
Article

New Space Activities and Legislation

A General Overview with a Specific Reference to the Ongoing Debate in Italy

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 2 2017
Authors Marina Gagliardi, Nicoletta Bini, Cristina Marabottini e.a.
Author's information

Marina Gagliardi
Marina Gagliardi, Legal Affairs Unit, Italian Space Agency, Rome, Italy.

Nicoletta Bini
Nicoletta Bini, Legal Affairs Unit, Italian Space Agency, Rome, Italy.

Cristina Marabottini
Cristina Marabottini, Legal Affairs Unit, Italian Space Agency, Rome, Italy.

Gianfranco Gabriele Nucera
Gianfranco Gabriele Nucera, Department of Political Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome.
Article

Legal Loophole or Just a Matter of Interpretation?

On the Outer Space Treaty’s Methodology Test with the Diversification of Space Activities

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 1 2017
Authors Merve Erdem
Author's information

Merve Erdem
Department of International Law, Ankara University Faculty of Law, Cemal Gürsel Caddesi No: 58, 06590, Cebeci, Ankara, Turkey, erdemm@ankara.edu.tr
Editorial

Access_open Legal Control on Social Control of Sex Offenders in the Community: A European Comparative and Human Rights Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2016
Keywords social control, folk devils, moral panic, dangerousness, sex offenders
Authors Michiel van der Wolf (Issue Editor)
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper provides first of all the introduction to this special issue on ‘Legal constraints on the indeterminate control of “dangerous” sex offenders in the community: A European comparative and human rights perspective’. The issue is the outcome of a study that aims at finding the way legal control can not only be an instrument but also be a controller of social control. It is explained what social control is and how the concept of moral panic plays a part in the fact that sex offenders seem to be the folk devils of our time and subsequently pre-eminently the target group of social control at its strongest. Further elaboration of the methodology reveals why focussing on post-sentence (indeterminate) supervision is relevant, as there are hardly any legal constraints in place in comparison with measures of preventive detention. Therefore, a comparative approach within Europe is taken on the basis of country reports from England and Wales, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Spain. In the second part of the paper, the comparative analysis is presented. Similar shifts in attitudes towards sex offenders have led to legislation concerning frameworks of supervision in all countries but in different ways. Legal constraints on these frameworks are searched for in legal (sentencing) theory, the principles of proportionality and least intrusive means, and human rights, mainly as provided in the European Convention on Human Rights to which all the studied countries are subject. Finally, it is discussed what legal constraints on the control of sex offenders in the community are (to be) in place in European jurisdictions, based on the analysis of commonalities and differences found in the comparison.


Michiel van der Wolf (Issue Editor)
Ph.D., LL.M, M.Sc., Reader in Criminal Law (Theory) and Forensic Psychiatry at the Erasmus School of Law; Member of the Editorial Board of the Erasmus Law Review.
Article

Access_open Legal Constraints on the Indeterminate Control of ‘Dangerous’ Sex Offenders in the Community: The English Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Dangerous, sex offenders, human rights, community supervision, punishment
Authors Nicola Padfield
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article explores the legal constraints imposed on the rising number of so-called ‘dangerous’ sex offenders in England and Wales, in particular once they have been released from prison into the community. The main methods of constraint are strict licence conditions, Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements and civil protective orders such as Sexual Harm Prevention Orders. ‘Control’ in the community is thus widespread, but is difficult to assess whether it is either effective or necessary without a great deal more research and analysis. Post-sentence ‘punishment’ has been largely ignored by both academic lawyers and criminologists. The article concludes that financial austerity might prove to be as important as the human rights agenda in curbing the disproportionate use of powers of control.


Nicola Padfield
Nicola Padfield, MA, Dip Crim, DES, Reader in Criminal and Penal Justice, University of Cambridge. I thank Michiel van der Wolf for involving me in this project and for his many useful insights and comments.
Article

Access_open Legal Constraints on the Indeterminate Control of ‘Dangerous’ Sex Offenders in the Community: The Dutch Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Dutch penal law, preventive supervision, dangerous offenders, human rights, social rehabilitation
Authors Sanne Struijk and Paul Mevis
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the Netherlands, the legal possibilities for post-custodial supervision have been extended considerably in recent years. A currently passed law aims to further increase these possibilities specifically for dangerous (sex) offenders. This law consists of three separate parts that may all result in life-long supervision. In the first two parts, the supervision is embedded in the conditional release after either a prison sentence or the safety measure ‘ter beschikking stelling’ (TBS). This paper focuses on the third part of the law, which introduces an independent supervisory safety measure as a preventive continuation of both a prison sentence and the TBS measure. Inevitably, this new independent sanction raises questions about legitimacy and necessity, on which this paper reflects from a human rights perspective. Against the background of the existing Dutch penal law system, the content of the law is thoroughly assessed in view of the legal framework of the Council of Europe and the legal principles of proportionality and less restrictive means. In the end, we conclude that the supervisory safety measure is not legitimate nor necessary (yet). Apart from the current lack of (empirical evidence of) necessity, we state that there is a real possibility of an infringement of Article 5(4) ECHR and Article 7 ECHR, a lack of legitimising supervision ‘gaps’ in the existing penal law system, and finally a lack of clear legal criteria. Regardless of the potential severity of violent (sex) offenses, to simply justify this supervisory safety measure on the basis of ‘better safe than sorry’ is not enough.


Sanne Struijk
Sanne Struijk, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the Erasmus School of Law.

Paul Mevis
Paul Mevis is a Professor at the Erasmus School of Law.
Article

Defining ‘Better’

Investigating a New Framework to Understand Quality of Regulation

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2016
Keywords better regulation, businesses, cross-disciplinary approaches, quality of regulation, European Union
Authors Morten Jarlbæk Pedersen
AbstractAuthor's information

    Better regulation is a political and scholarly theme, which has gained in both relevance and salience throughout the last two decades or so. Regulatory quality is the epicentre of these discussions. Despite this, quality is seldom conceptualized in its own right. Thus, beyond loose principles, we are rarely aware of what we mean by ‘better’ regulation, and academic discussions hereof usually centre themselves on other topics such as meta-regulation and processes. This leaves the notion of quality hard to asses especially from a comparative perspective. In this article, a core concept of quality is suggested. This concept is founded on an acknowledgement of the importance of the legal texts when it comes to achieving regulatory aims and objectives. The concept and methodology proposed has components from both law and political science and is sought to be of relevance to scholars and practitioners alike.


Morten Jarlbæk Pedersen
Morten Jarlbæk Pedersen is a Ph.D. fellow at the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen. He has an affiliation with the Confederation of Danish Enterprise, where he has been employed for 5 years before engaging in this research project. For the purpose of the project, he was relieved of responsibilities as a consultant at the Confederation.
Article

Comparative Legislative Drafting

Comparing across Legal Systems

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2016
Keywords comparative legislative drafting, comparative law, drafting process
Authors Constantin Stefanou
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article is an original, first attempt at establishing a list of comparative criteria for the comparative study of legislative drafting or aspects of legislative drafting between the two families of legal systems: common law and civil law. Because of the limited bibliography in the field of legislative drafting – let alone in comparative legislative drafting between common law and civil law systems – this article adds to existing scholarship on the field aiming to become a basis for further comparative research in legislative drafting. The list of criteria can be used on its own for different jurisdictions within the same family of legal systems, or the two lists can be used to juxtapose civil and common law experiences in legislative drafting. As this is the first time that such lists of comparative criteria in legislative drafting have been produced, it should be stressed that the lists are certainly not exhaustive. The aim of this article is to generate comparative research in legislative drafting, and so, inevitably, such comparative research might add or even subtract criteria from the lists depending on results.


Constantin Stefanou
Dr Constantin Stefanou is the director of the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies, at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (School of Advanced Study, University of London). He is also the convener of the oldest master’s programme in the field of legislative drafting (LLM in advanced legislative studies) at the IALS.
Article

Access_open The Right to Mental Health in the Digital Era

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2016
Keywords E-health, e-mental health, right to health, right to mental health
Authors Fatemeh Kokabisaghi, Iris Bakx and Blerta Zenelaj
AbstractAuthor's information

    People with mental illness usually experience higher rates of disability and mortality. Often, health care systems do not adequately respond to the burden of mental disorders worldwide. The number of health care providers dealing with mental health care is insufficient in many countries. Equal access to necessary health services should be granted to mentally ill people without any discrimination. E-mental health is expected to enhance the quality of care as well as accessibility, availability and affordability of services. This paper examines under what conditions e-mental health can contribute to realising the right to health by using the availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality (AAAQ) framework that is developed by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Research shows e-mental health facilitates dissemination of information, remote consultation and patient monitoring and might increase access to mental health care. Furthermore, patient participation might increase, and stigma and discrimination might be reduced by the use of e-mental health. However, e-mental health might not increase the access to health care for everyone, such as the digitally illiterate or those who do not have access to the Internet. The affordability of this service, when it is not covered by insurance, can be a barrier to access to this service. In addition, not all e-mental health services are acceptable and of good quality. Policy makers should adopt new legal policies to respond to the present and future developments of modern technologies in health, as well as e-Mental health. To analyse the impact of e-mental health on the right to health, additional research is necessary.


Fatemeh Kokabisaghi
Fatemeh Kokabisaghi, Iris Bakx and Blerta Zenelaj are Ph.D. candidates at the Institute of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam. All authors contributed equally.

Iris Bakx
Fatemeh Kokabisaghi, Iris Bakx and Blerta Zenelaj are Ph.D. candidates at the Institute of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam. All authors contributed equally.

Blerta Zenelaj
Fatemeh Kokabisaghi, Iris Bakx and Blerta Zenelaj are Ph.D. candidates at the Institute of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam. All authors contributed equally.
Article

Prologue: The IALS Law Reform Project

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2016
Keywords statute, common law, codification, consolidation, implementation
Authors Jonathan Teasdale
AbstractAuthor's information

    Law, particularly enacted law, needs to be as simple and as accessible as possible, clear and concise and – perhaps above all – fit for the purposes of modern society. Laws passed in one decade may prove to be less than adequate for the needs of later generations because of changes in the social fabric or social mores or because of technological advance or economic challenge. Societies needs mechanisms for keeping law under review, particularly when governments are focused on introducing more law – sometimes layered on top of existing law – to fulfil electoral promises. The position is compounded in common law systems where the senior judiciary add to the legal corpus.
    Different jurisdictions have differing needs. The IALS Law Reform Project (at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London) has set itself the task of identifying the range of law reform mechanisms employed across the common law and civil law worlds with a view to establishing which of the components are core, and identifying others which could be improved. The starting point, of course, is: what is law reform? Are reform and revision the same? Does reform need to be legislative? Why does codification work in civil law jurisdictions but is eschewed in parts of the common law world? This is about the processes of law reform; substantive reform is for another day.


Jonathan Teasdale
LL.B, LL.M, Barrister (England and Wales), FRSA. Presently associate research fellow in the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (University of London) specializing in law reform, and formerly a lawyer with the Law Commission for England and Wales.
Article

Managing the EU Acquis

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2016
Keywords EU, legislation, accessibility, updating
Authors William Robinson
AbstractAuthor's information

    EU legislation plays a key role in filling in the gaps in the framework created by the EU Treaties. The body of EU legislation known as the acquis has grown piecemeal over 60 years to a confused and confusing patchwork of over 100,000 pages. There is an urgent need for a more coherent approach to updating, condensing and revising that legislation to ensure that it is readily accessible. New mechanisms should be established for those tasks, or else the existing mechanisms should be enhanced and exploited to the full.


William Robinson
Associate Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London.
Article

The Mechanisms Used to Review Existing Legislation in the Civil Law System

Case Study – Italy

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2016
Keywords codification, consolidation, law revision, legal restatement, legislative scrutiny
Authors Enrico Albanesi
AbstractAuthor's information

    The aim of this article is to describe the mechanisms that are used in the civil law system to review existing legislation. The case study will be based on the Italian system. In the civil law system we are not familiar with the concept of law reform, in the sense used in the common law system, because there is no law reform agency in the civil law world. The mechanisms used to review the existing law in civil law systems are: codification, consolidation, repeal, law revision and legal restatement. To understand how the mechanisms used to review existing legislation work in Italy, an overview of the Italian law-making and drafting processes will be carried out here, underlying the bad impact that the Italian equal bicameralism has on the quality of legislation and also on the mechanisms to review existing legislation. After this, the article will focus on the specific tools that are used in Italy for codification and consolidation (decreti legislativi), for law revision (the so-called taglia-leggi) and for legal restatement (examining the role of the Consiglio di Stato). Particular attention will also be paid to the parliamentary scrutiny on the quality of legislation. Finally, the article will focus on the constitutional amendment process Italy carried out in 2014-2016 and that was expected to fundamentally change the Italian law-making process, superseding the equal bicameralism arrangement (a referendum on this was held on 4 December 2016, and the reform was rejected by the Italian people).


Enrico Albanesi
Lecturer in Constitutional Law at the University of Genoa (Italy) and Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), University of London. Co-leader of the IALS Law Reform Project.
Article

Access_open The Erosion of Sovereignty

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2016
Keywords sovereignty, state, Léon Duguit, European Union, Eurozone
Authors Martin Loughlin
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article presents an account of sovereignty as a concept that signifies in jural terms the nature and quality of political relations within the modern state. It argues, first, that sovereignty is a politico-legal concept that expresses the autonomous nature of the state’s political power and its specific mode of operation in the form of law and, secondly, that many political scientists and lawyers present a skewed account by confusing sovereignty with governmental competence. After clarifying its meaning, the significance of contemporary governmental change is explained as one that, in certain respects, involves an erosion of sovereignty.


Martin Loughlin
Martin Loughlin is Professor of Public Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science and EURIAS Senior Fellow at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (FRIAS).
Article

Access_open Power and Principle in Constitutional Law

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2016
Keywords sovereignty, constitutional law, positivism, constructivism, common law
Authors Pavlos Eleftheriadis
AbstractAuthor's information

    Legal and sociological theories of sovereignty disagree about the role of legal and social matters in grounding state power. This paper defends a constructivist view, according to which the constitution is a judgment of practical reason. The paper argues that a constitution sets out a comprehensive institutional architecture of social life in terms of principles and official roles that are necessary for any legitimate scheme of social cooperation to exist. It follows that legal and sociological theories of sovereignty capture only part of the truth of sovereignty. Legal reasoning engages with political power, but it is not determined by it. There is no causal chain between power and validity, as suggested by the legal positivists. The relation between power and law is interpretive, not causal. It follows that the circularity of law and the constitution, namely the fact that the law makes the constitution and the constitution makes the law, is not a vicious circle. It is part of an ordinary process of deliberation.


Pavlos Eleftheriadis
Pavlos Eleftheriadis is Associate Professor of Law and Fellow in Law at Mansfield College, University of Oxford.
Article

European Businesses and the New European Legal Requirements for ODR

Journal International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Issue 2 2016
Keywords online dispute resolution (ODR), alternative dispute resolution (ADR), consumer disputes, EU legislation, e-commerce
Authors Graham Ross
AbstractAuthor's information

    In terms of practical use outside of e-commerce platforms such as eBay, ODR has not advanced as speedily as many thought might be the case. Two pieces of legislation by the European Parliament applying to consumer disputes, being the European Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution For Consumer Dispute and the associated Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution have opened up the opportunity for that to change. For the first time, there now is a law that effectively requires businesses to promote ODR. However, with widespread breach, evidence of which is referred to in this paper, this law has not as yet been implemented or honoured as it should be and is in danger that its impact could thereby become counter-productive to its essential objective, albeit not its whole scope, in increasing public confidence in cross-border buying of products and services online. One problem is that the EU decided in their wisdom to stop short of making participation in online ADR mandatory. So we have the odd situation in which it is an offence for businesses to not inform a dissatisfied customer of the web address of an online ADR provider who has been approved under the legislation by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, yet when that customer seeks to use that service the business can refuse to participate. If refusal to participate is extensive, the situation could lead to a loss of trust generally in a law designed to improve consumer rights and access to justice. This is especially so if traders carry on their website the mandatory link to an EU portal that will refer dissatisfied consumers to an approved provider of online ADR, and which may have been a deciding factor for that consumer in selecting the particular trader to buy from, yet, when a complaint arises, refuse to participate in the provider selected by the consumer.
    Whilst awareness of ODR will grow as a result of this legislation, albeit as an awareness of ADR that will, in the sense of the medium for discussions and exchange of documents, operate online, I have concerns that broad awareness of the fullest extent of what ODR can offer by way of more advanced forms of ODR will not be fully achieved for some time. Whilst this law does indeed present a significant opportunity to expand the use of ODR, it will not happen without effort by those with interests, commercial or otherwise or both, in promoting the expansion of access to justice that ODR offers. Only in this way will this legislation help ensure that there is a commercial need to explore increasingly innovative technology.
    There is an even greater opportunity currently being lost by this legislation beyond consumer disputes. Given that ODR can enable mediation to take place at much more proportionate cost for disputes below the higher levels of value, ODR offers the opportunity to increase mediation’s share of ADR over arbitration. Further, if the public can begin to experience mediation in the busier field of consumer disputes, it would help more quickly embed mediation into our society’s vision of justice and make engagement in mediation for more complex disputes much more frequent. Instead, by lumping mediation in with ombudsman style adjudication, as does this legislation, a much less satisfactory process with at least one party, and often both, dissatisfied with the outcome, it lowers the satisfaction level of all forms of ADR.


Graham Ross
Head of the European Advisory Board to Modria.com Inc, Member of the Civil Justice Councils’ ODR Advisory Group and of its ADR Working Party, and Fellow of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution.
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