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Article

Democratic Scrutiny of COVID-19 Laws

Are Parliamentary Committees Up to the Job?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2021
Keywords parliament, scrutiny, committees, COVID-19, rights, legislation, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom
Authors Sarah Moulds
AbstractAuthor's information

    In response to the complex and potentially devastating threat posed by COVID-19, parliaments around the world have transferred unprecedented powers to executive governments and their agencies (Edgar, ‘Law-making in a Crisis’, 2020), often with the full support of the communities they represent. These laws were passed within days, sometimes hours, with limited safeguards and a heavy reliance on sunsetting provisions, some of which are dependent on the pandemic being officially called to an end. While parliaments themselves have suspended or reduced sitting days (Twomey, ‘A Virtual Australian Parliament is Possible’, 2020), parliamentary committees have emerged as the forum of choice when it comes to providing some form of parliamentary oversight of executive action.
    This article aims to evaluate the capacity of parliamentary committees established within the Australian, New Zealand (NZ) and United Kingdom (UK) parliaments to effectively scrutinize and review governments’ responses to COVID-19. It does this by comparing the legal framework underpinning the relevant committees in each jurisdiction and examining the work of these committees with a view to offering some preliminary views as to their impact on the shape of the laws made in response to COVID-19 in those jurisdictions. The article concludes by offering some preliminary observations about the scrutiny capacity of the parliamentary committee systems in Australia, NZ and the UK in the context of emergency lawmaking and flags areas for further research, evaluation and reform.


Sarah Moulds
Dr. Sarah Moulds, University of South Australia.
Article

Legislative Scrutiny in Times of Emergency

A Case Study of Australian Parliaments

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords legislative scrutiny, sunset clauses, emergency laws, virtual parliament, parliamentary committee, trust
Authors Hon Kate Doust MLC and Mr Sam Hastings
AbstractAuthor's information

    Citizens’ trust in Australian governments and parliaments has fallen in recent years, yet trust is critical for governments to do their job effectively and attack challenging issues. The coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity for governments and parliaments to bridge the gap between citizens’ expectations and parliamentary and government performance and therefore rebuild trust. In doing so, parliaments need to balance their desire for speedy action with proportionate measures and mechanisms for review.
    This article examines the scrutiny of primary legislation by the parliaments of Western Australia the Commonwealth of Australia during the initial stages of the pandemic, through the application of principles from the House of Lords Select Committee inquiry into fast-track legislation. The data shows that both parliaments had severely abridged time to consider, debate and consult on bills during the initial stages of the emergency. The parliaments took a different approach to address this issue. The Western Australian Parliament supported the inclusion of sunset clauses into most of the bills whereas the Commonwealth Parliament did not. The Commonwealth Parliament’s scrutiny committees considered and commented on the bills post-enactment. The Western Australian Parliament does not have mechanisms for the technical scrutiny of all bills by parliamentary committees. This divergence of approach is noteworthy as the Commonwealth Parliament has information about the impact and technical quality of bills but no power to address the issues identified. The Western Australian Parliament has little information about the impact and technical quality of the Acts but will likely have the opportunity to reconsider the laws if they are sought to be extended.


Hon Kate Doust MLC
Hon Kate Doust MLC is the President of the Legislative Council of Western Australia.

Mr Sam Hastings
Mr Sam Hastings is the Clerk Assistant (House) of the Legislative Council of Western Australia. The authors acknowledge the research assistance provided by Ms. Renae Jewell and Mr. Chris Hunt.

    The Supreme Court of Lithuania recently affirmed that the courts have no competence to assess the merits of an employer’s decision to restructure and make staff redundant, as the decision was at the employer’s discretion to make.


Inga Klimašauskienė
Inga Klimašauskienė is an Associate Partner at GLIMSTEDT Law Firm in Vilnius, www.glimstedt.lt.

    This paper interprets the presumption of innocence as a conceptual antidote for sacrificial tendencies in criminal law. Using Girard’s philosophy of scapegoat mechanisms and sacrifice as hermeneutical framework, the consanguinity of legal and sacrificial order is explored. We argue that some legal concepts found in the ius commune’s criminal system (12th-18th century), like torture, infamy, or punishment for mere suspicion, are affiliated with scapegoat dynamics and operate, to some extent, in the spirit of sacrifice. By indicating how these concepts entail more or less flagrant breaches of our contemporary conception of due process molded by the presumption of innocence, an antithesis emerges between the presumption of innocence and sacrificial inclinations in criminal law. Furthermore, when facing fundamental threats like heresy, the ius commune’s due process could be suspended. What emerges in this state of exception allowing for swift and relentless repression, is elucidated as legal order’s sacrificial infrastructure.


Rafael Van Damme
Rafael Van Damme is PhD-student in philosophy.
Article

The Moral Imagination Embodied

Insights from Artists Navigating Hybrid Identities in Scholarship and Practice

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2016
Keywords community art, peace studies, arts-based peacebuilding, practice, theory
Authors Kathryn M. Lance
AbstractAuthor's information

    The field of conflict engagement is riddled with tensions and challenges, such as the ‘science-practice crisis’ or the ‘scholarship–practice divide’. Using interviews and an inductive, interdisciplinary approach and following the framework of The Moral Imagination, this article aims to deconstruct this core tension of ‘scholarship or practice’. It does this from the perspective of individuals often overlooked in our field: artists. This study included interviews with three specific artists who work along the practice–scholarship spectrum. Even though these artists engage in both scholarship and practice, they do not simply define themselves as ‘scholars’ or ‘practitioners’. Instead, they navigate their identities and work in-between these two terms. While practicing, researching and teaching they exemplify – and also move beyond – the ‘both/and’ approach. Using an inquiry-based, inductive approach to glean insight from these artists gives them voice and opens up a space for their views on the relationship between scholarship and practice. Paying special attention to how artists make sense of their location(s) along the aforementioned spectrum unearths fresh perspectives on the debate while furthering our understanding of the nexus between scholarship and practice


Kathryn M. Lance
Kathryn M. Lance is a PhD student in the joint programme in Psychology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on youth resilience and means of addressing trauma in divided societies and conflict settings. She is specifically interested in the effects of arts-based peacebuilding and the relationship between the arts, resilience and trauma healing.
Article

Consultation: A Contribution to Efficiency of Drafting Process in Malaysia

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2-3 2012
Keywords consultation, stakeholders, efficiency of drafting process, elements of efficiency, policy development
Authors Noor Azlina Hashim
AbstractAuthor's information

    Consultation in legislative drafting process is important and widely acknowledged. So far, many countries in the world have taken steps to foster consultation during the early stage of the drafting process. In Malaysia, the importance of opinion from the public or stakeholders in the output of the drafting process was recently evident when several bills presented before the Parliament were criticized because of the failure to take into consideration views and opinions from the public. In some cases, bills were postponed for policy review and refinement. This article examines and discusses consultation practices during the drafting process and analyses and considers the influence of consultation on the efficiency of the drafting process in Malaysia. The influence of consultation practice in relation to the drafting process were shown from a survey conducted on the drafters in the Drafting Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia.


Noor Azlina Hashim
The Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia.
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