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Article

Digital Equals Public

Assembly Meetings Under a Lockdown Regime

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords COVID-19 regulation, temporary legislation, sunset clauses, digitalization, digital democracy, local democracy, experimental legislation
Authors Lianne van Kalken and Evert Stamhuis
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article we examine the Dutch emergency legislation for local democracy. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands, the Temporary Act for digital meetings for local/regional government tiers was enacted. The legislature introduced a system of digital debate and decision-making for municipal and provincial councils, the democratically elected assemblies at the local and regional levels. At the same time the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations set up an evaluation committee to monitor and evaluate the working of the local and provincial governments with this temporary legislation.
    This article discusses the content and application of the temporary provisions for deliberation and decision-making on a digital platform. The purpose of the legislation is to create possibilities for the elected representatives to continue their work during the lockdown. We examine the design and structure of the legislation and disclose the evaluation results so far. The arrangements aim for secure, transparent and reliable democratic practices. Early evidence pertaining to the effects of the Act show that it works effectively only up to a certain level. We critically discuss the sunset clause in the Act and plead against function creep. Moreover, the expectations now and in the future from continuous digitalization of this part of the democratic process should be modest. On the basis of our analysis of the characteristics of the legislation and the effects on the political work of the representatives, we conclude that the current form of digitalization does not provide for the interaction between representatives and their constituencies and the communities at large.


Lianne van Kalken
Lianne van Kalken is lecturer and researcher constitutional law in Erasmus School of Law. She was a member of the evaluation committee, but contributes to this article in a personal capacity. For further affiliations see http://www.linkedin.com/in/liannevankalken/.

Evert Stamhuis
Evert F. Stamhuis is chair Law & Innovation at Erasmus School of Law and senior fellow of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Digital Governance. See for other affiliations https://www.linkedin.com/in/evertstamhuis/

Franklin De Vrieze
Franklin De Vrieze, Senior Governance Adviser, Westminster Foundation for Democracy

Constantin Stefanou
Dr Constantin Stefanou, Director, Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies; Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London.
Article

Emergency Measures in Response to the Coronavirus Crisis and Parliamentary Oversight in the EU Member States

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords states of emergency, parliamentary oversight, health crisis, Covid-19, European Union Member States
Authors Maria Diaz Crego and Silvia Kotanidis
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Covid-19 pandemic has become a true stress test for the legal systems of the worst hit countries. Faced with a health crisis situation, many national governments have become the protagonists in the adoption of difficult measures severely restricting their citizens fundamental rights to the detriment of the powers usually entrusted to the national parliaments. This article examines the normative response of the 27 European Union Member States during the “first wave” of the Covid-19 pandemic, a period that runs from the declaration of a pandemic (March 2020) to mid-June 2020. The intention of the authors was to describe the legal and constitutional mechanisms activated in order to contain the pandemic, focusing on the role of national parliaments in the management of the crisis. This article explores also the degree to which national parliaments have been involved and could exercise parliamentary oversight over the normative measures used by the executive to contain the pandemic in the EU-27.


Maria Diaz Crego
Maria Diaza Crego is a Policy Analyst, European Parliament Research Service, European Parliament.

Silvia Kotanidis
Silvia Kotanidis is a Policy Analyst, European Parliament Research Service, European Parliament. The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) is the internal research service and think tank of the European Parliament. This research paper derives from a paper originally published on 4 December 2020 by the EPRS as background material to assist Members and staff of the European Parliament in their parliamentary work. The content of the document is the sole responsibility of its authors and any opinions expressed therein should not be taken to represent an official position of the European Parliament.
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.
Article

The New Regulation Governing AIR, VIR and Consultation

A Further Step Forward Towards ‘Better Regulation’ in Italy

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2019
Keywords regulation, RIA, regulatory impact analysis, impact assessment, evaluation, consultation
Authors Victor Chimienti
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article describes the scope and contents of the newly adopted regulation governing regulatory impact analysis (RIA) and ex post evaluation of regulation (ExPER) in the Italian legal system. The article shows that this regulation has the potential to improve regulatory governance in Italy. Not only does it introduce innovations designed to increase transparency and participation, especially through strengthened consultation and communication mechanisms, but it also aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of regulatory analysis and evaluation activities. How the new regulation will be applied in practice, however, remains to be seen. In the meantime, the new set of rules are a welcome addition to Italy’s Better Regulation policy.


Victor Chimienti
Victor Chimienti is an international and EU lawyer currently working as a free-lance consultant on donor funded projects. In 1997, he graduated in Law with full marks at the University of Bari “Aldo Moro” (Italy), and, in 2006, obtained his Ph.D in International and EU Law from the same university. Meanwhile, he had attended post-graduate legal studies at LUISS University in Rome, Italy, specialising in international and EC business law. Dr. Chimienti has also served as Lecturer in International and Trade Law at the University of Foggia, Italy, and as Research Scholar in International & Comparative Law at the University of Michigan, USA. Among others, he specialises in Better Regulation tools and procedures, such as Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), Ex-Post Evaluation of Legislation, Monitoring, and Public Consultation.
Article

Law Reform and the Executive

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2019
Keywords law reform, parliamentary counsel, legislative drafting, Australia, Victoria
Authors Adam Bushby
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article comments on the process of law reform in Australia from the perspective of a legislative drafter. After a description of the Australian political and parliamentary system and a discussion of the role of the legislative drafter, a brief summary of the formal law reform processes in Australia is provided, including a discussion of how legislative drafting offices participate in the law reform process. Participation includes the drafting of Bills giving effect to law reform proposals based on drafting instructions approved by Cabinet, providing for the undertaking of statutory reviews, as well as the remaking of legislation. It is the role of the legislative drafter to assist the government by turning policy into legislation, so the focus here is on the practical implementation of law reform rather than the independence of law reform bodies.


Adam Bushby
Senior Parliamentary Counsel, Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Victoria, Australia. This article reflects the opinions of the author only, and should not be taken as representing the stance of the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Victoria, Australia. I would, of course, welcome any feedback from anyone with an interest in law reform.
Article

From Supra-Constitutional Principles to the Misuse of Constituent Power in Israel

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords unconstitutional constitutional amendment, constitutional law, constitutional principles, constituent power, Israel, judicial review
Authors Suzie Navot and Yaniv Roznai
AbstractAuthor's information

    Israel has no one official document known as ‘the Constitution’ and for nearly half a century was based on the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. Still, since the ‘constitutional revolution’ of the 1990s, Israel’s supreme norms are expressed in its basic laws and laws are subject to judicial review. This situation is the result of the enactment of two basic laws dealing with human rights in 1992 – which included a limitation clause – and of a judicial decision of monumental significance in 1995, the Bank Hamizrahi case. In that decision, the Supreme Court stated that all basic laws – even if not entrenched – have constitutional status, and therefore the currently accepted approach is that the Knesset indeed dons two hats, functioning as both a legislature and a constituent authority. The novelty of the Bank Hamizrahi decision lies in its notion of a permanent, ongoing constituent authority. The Knesset actually holds the powers of a constitutional assembly, and legislation titled ‘Basic-Law’ is the product of constituent power. Though it is neither complete nor perfect, Israel’s constitution – that is, basic laws – addresses a substantial number of the issues covered by formal constitutions of other democratic states. Furthermore, though this formal constitution is weak and limited, it is nonetheless a constitution that defends the most important human rights through effective judicial review.
    Still, given the ease with which changes can be made to basic laws, the special standing of basic laws differs from the standing generally conferred on a constitution. Most basic laws are not entrenched, which means that the Knesset can alter a basic law by a regular majority. Over the past few years, there has been a tendency towards ad casum amendments of basic laws. These amendments are usually adopted against a background of political events that demand an immediate response on the part of the Knesset. The latter then chooses the path of constitutional – not regular – legislation, which is governed by a relatively smooth legislative passage procedure. Even provisional constitutional amendments were passed with relative ease followed by petitions presented to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Knesset’s constituent power is actually being ‘abused’.
    These petitions, as well as Israel’s peculiar constitutional development, presented the Supreme Court with several questions as to the power for judicial review of basic laws. Thus far, the Court’s endorsement of judicial review was based on the limitation clause found in both basic laws on human rights, but limitation clauses do not establish the criteria for a constitutional violation by constitution provisions. Does this mean that the Knesset’s constituent power is omnipotent?
    This article examines the almost unique position of Israeli jurisprudence in relation to the doctrine of ‘unconstitutional constitutional amendments’. It focuses on the possibility of applying the doctrine in the Israeli case laws, the often-raised notion of ‘supra-constitutional’ values that would limit the Knesset’s constituent power, and a third – newly created – doctrine of abuse (or misuse) of constituent power. A central claim of this article is that in light of the unbearable ease with which basic laws can be amended in Israel, there is an increased justification for judicial review of basic laws.


Suzie Navot
Suzie Navot is Full Professor, the Haim Striks School of Law, College of Management Academic Studies, Rishon Lezion.

Yaniv Roznai
Yaniv Roznai is Senior Lecturer, Harry Radzyner Law School, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya.
Article

Unamendability and Constitutional Identity in the Italian Constitutional Experience

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords Unamendability, constitutional identity, republic, counterlimits, European integration, Italy
Authors Pietro Faraguna
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article explores the historical roots of the explicit unamendable clause(s) in the Italian Constitution. Following, it explores the scholarly debate over the interpretation of unamendable provisions. The article investigates theories of implicit unamendability of the Italian Constitution, and, in particular, it analyses the crucial role played by the Constitutional Court of Italy (ICC) and the principles that characterize Italian constitutional identity. Furthermore, the article explores the other side of constitutional identity, namely the theory of ‘counterlimits.’ The ICC specified that constitutional identity not only sets a limit to constitutional amendment powers but also sets ‘counterlimits’ to the entry of external norms (i.e., supranational and international law) in the domestic legal system. Finally, the article draws some conclusions and argues that the two sides of constitutional identity, although legally and logically independent, mutually reinforce each other and, ultimately, reinforce the counter-majoritarian nature of unamendability.


Pietro Faraguna
Pietro Faraguna is Assistant professor of constitutional law, University of Trieste.
Article

Post-Legislative Scrutiny as a Form of Executive Oversight

Tools and Practices in Europe

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords scrutiny of law enforcement, ex-post impact assessment, parliamentary oversight of the executive, post-legislative scrutiny
Authors Elena Griglio
AbstractAuthor's information

    Parliaments’ engagement in post-legislative scrutiny can be considered either as an extension of the legislative function or within the framework of the oversight of the executive. This article makes use of the latter view to assess how parliaments in Europe approach post-legislative scrutiny and to which extent this function can be regarded as a form of executive oversight. Although rules and practices of parliaments in this realm are remarkably heterogeneous, the focus on some selected parliaments (Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, and the European Parliament) reveals three different conceptual categories. In the ‘basic’ approach (passive scrutinizers), parliaments limit their role solely to the assessment of the ex-post scrutiny performed by the government and external agencies. Differently, parliaments willing to engage in a more proactive approach might choose either to act on an informal basis, establishing ad hoc research/evaluation administrative units (informal scrutinizers) or to address post-legislative scrutiny in a formal and highly institutionalized manner (formal scrutinizers). As a matter of fact, the practise of parliaments often combines characters of different categories. While in all of these approaches post-legislative scrutiny shows potential for executive oversight, only the third can potentially lead to a kind of ‘hard’ oversight.


Elena Griglio
Dr Elena Griglio is a Senior Parliamentary Official, Italian Senate and Adjunct Professor, Luiss Guido Carli University.
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

Access_open Exit, Voice and Loyalty from the Perspective of Hedge Funds Activism in Corporate Governance

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2016
Keywords Uncertainty, entrepreneurship, agency costs, loyalty shares, institutional investors
Authors Alessio M. Pacces
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article discusses hedge funds activism based on Hirschman’s classic. It is argued that hedge funds do not create the loyalty concerns underlying the usual short-termism critique of their activism, because the arbiters of such activism are typically indexed funds, which cannot choose short-term exit. Nevertheless, the voice activated by hedge funds can be excessive for a particular company. Furthermore, this article claims that the short-termism debate cannot shed light on the desirability of hedge funds activism. Neither theory nor empirical evidence can tell whether hedge funds activism leads to short-termism or long-termism. The real issue with activism is a conflict of entrepreneurship, namely a conflict between the opposing views of the activists and the incumbent management regarding in how long an individual company should be profitable. Leaving the choice between these views to institutional investors is not efficient for every company at every point in time. Consequently, this article argues that regulation should enable individual companies to choose whether to curb hedge funds activism depending on what is efficient for them. The recent European experience reveals that loyalty shares enable such choice, even in the midstream, operating as dual-class shares in disguise. However, loyalty shares can often be introduced without institutional investors’ consent. This outcome could be improved by allowing dual-class recapitalisations, instead of loyalty shares, but only with a majority of minority vote. This solution would screen for the companies for which temporarily curbing activism is efficient, and induce these companies to negotiate sunset clauses with institutional investors.


Alessio M. Pacces
Professor of Law & Finance, Erasmus School of Law, and Research Associate, European Corporate Governance Institute.
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

Structure of Legislation: A Paradigm for Accessibility and Effectiveness

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2015
Keywords effectiveness of legislation, structure of legislation, accessibility of legislation, quality drafting, clarity
Authors Elohor Onoge
AbstractAuthor's information

    The aim of this article is to examine how the structure of legislation can nurture accessibility and effectiveness of legislation.
    It explores whether the legislative drafter in carrying out the task of drafting can nurture effective communication of the policy maker’s intent to the targeted audience by making use of the structure of legislation as a tool, to ensure the legislation is accessible to the end user, and foster effectiveness.
    The third and fourth stage of Thornton’s stages of the drafting process – design and composition – would be examined and also Peter Butt’s types of structure, which relates to the drafting of legal documents but would be applied in this paper, to the drafting of legislation.


Elohor Onoge
Elohor Onoge LLM is a Nigerian legislative drafter working for the Federal Parliament. Email: stephyrook@gmail.com.
Article

Legislative Techniques in Rwanda

Present and Future

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2013
Keywords legislative drafting, law-making, drafting techniques, Rwanda, quality of legislation
Authors Helen Xanthaki
AbstractAuthor's information

    This report is the result of the collective work of 26 Rwandan civil servants from a number of ministries, who set out to offer the Ministry of Justice a report on legislative drafting in Rwanda. The work was undertaken under the umbrella of the Diploma in Legislative Drafting offered by the Institute for Legal Professional Development (ILPD) in Nyanza under the rectorship of Prof. Nick Johnson. The authors have used their experience of practising drafting in Rwanda, but have contributed to the report in their personal capacity: their views are personal and do not reflect those of the Government of Rwanda.
    My only contribution was the identification of topics, which follows the well-established structure of manuals and textbooks in drafting; the division of the report into two parts: Part 1 on the legislative process and Part 2 on drafting techniques; and the methodology of each individual entry to our report: what is current Rwandan practice, what are international standards, what is the future of Rwanda, and a short bibliography to allow the readers and users of the report to read further, if needed.
    The strength of this report lies both in the methodology used and in the content offered. The breakdown of topics, their prioritization and their sequence allow the reader to acquire a holistic view on how legislation is drafted in Rwanda, but there is nothing to prevent its use in the context of surveys on legislative drafting and legislative quality in other jurisdictions. The content offers a unique insight into the legislative efforts of a jurisdiction in transition from civil to common law: both styles are assessed without prejudice, thus offering a unique fertile ground for critical assessment and practical impact analysis.
    June 2013


Helen Xanthaki
Senior Lecturer and Academic Director, Centre for Legislative Studies, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Lawyer (Athens Bar).
Article

Scrutiny of Legislation in Uganda: A Case for Reform

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2-3 2012
Keywords legislative scrutiny, emerging trends
Authors Isabel Omal
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article seeks to explain the significance of carrying out extensive legislative scrutiny in any jurisdiction, with emphasis being placed on the Ugandan experience as far as legislative scrutiny is done. As Parliaments all over the world continue to make laws that govern their citizens, it is only right that before any law is enacted, there must be adequate mechanism to ensure quality in the law in terms of substance and effect of the legislative proposal which ultimately impacts on good governance. Best practices and emerging trends in legislative scrutiny is drawn from the United Kingdom and Australia, which have put in place elaborate procedures and mechanism to ensure that all their legislative proposals are thoroughly scrutinized before they passed into law: and that even after the law has been enacted, it can be evaluated to see the effect of the law. Pre-legislative scrutiny and post-legislative scrutiny are thus important tools to ensure quality in legislation.


Isabel Omal
The author is a Legislative Lawyer working at the Law Commission in Uganda; she is also a fellow of the Ford Foundation-IFP scholarship and a member of Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel (CALC).
Article

Promoting Access to, and Exchange of, Data and Information related to Climate Change: the Legal Perspective - Executive Summary

2008 IISL-ECSL Space Law Symposium Held on the Occasion of the 47th Session of the Legal Subcommittee of UNCOPUOS in Vienna, Austria: "Legal Implications of Space Applications for Global Climate Change"

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 8 2008
Authors J.I. Gabrynowicz

J.I. Gabrynowicz
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