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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/
Article

Patience, Ladies

Gender-Sensitive Parliamentary Responses in a Time of Crisis

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords gender sensitivity, parliament, responsiveness, COVID-19, democracy, women
Authors Sonia Palmieri and Sarah Childs
AbstractAuthor's information

    In early 2020, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, numerous parliaments played their rightful democratic role by following the advice of health and economic experts and swiftly passing emergency legislation and relief packages. This was, in many countries, an attempt to reach an equilibrium between saving lives and saving economic livelihoods, on the understanding that both were in serious jeopardy. In the face of public health measures many parliaments also found themselves having to reform their own rules, procedures and practices. In both cases – policy interventions and institutional redesign – it appears that parliamentary responses to the Covid-19 situation were less commonly based on the advice of gender experts or informed by considerations of gender inequalities. Few, if any, emergency packages were designed following a systematic consideration of existing, deeply entrenched gender inequalities, despite continuous public analysis and commentary about the disproportionate gender impacts of the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns; and no parliaments instituted (temporary) rule changes that prioritized the voices of women parliamentarians or constituents. In this article, which draws on our work drafting the UN Women Covid-19 Parliamentary Primer & Checklist, we revisit the democratic case for gender-sensitive parliaments, highlighting their particular relevance to the 2020 pandemic. We introduce our model for gender-sensitive crisis responses across four key stages of the parliamentary process presented in the Primer – representation, deliberation, legislation and scrutiny – and offer an initial assessment of what transpired in the world’s parliaments based on an IPU survey. We suggest that if parliaments are to be gender-sensitive institutions in times of crisis, they must not only change how they do politics but also develop and sustain a robust political culture that values gender equality and an ethic of caring that supports new rules, procedures and practices that better redress institutional gender deficiencies.


Sonia Palmieri
Sonia Palmieri, Australian National University.

Sarah Childs
Sarah Childs, Royal Holloway, University of London.
Article

Access_open New Sales and Contract Law in Argentina and France

Models for Reform Inspired by the CISG and the PICC?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2020
Keywords contracts, sales, law reform, CISG, UNIDROIT Principles, Argentina, France, comparative law
Authors Edgardo Muñoz and Inés Morfín Kroepfly
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Argentine and the French civil codes have recently undergone substantial modifications to their contract law provisions. These novel statutes could serve as models for future B2B contract law reforms in Latin American jurisdictions and beyond, as former Argentine and French laws have done in the past. The authors offer a contribution that paves the way in that direction with a systematic comparative analysis. As a starting point, this article unveils the influence that the modern unified laws on contracts (UNIDROIT Principles on International Commercial Contracts (PICC) and United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods of 1980 (CISG)) have in Argentina’s and France’s new contract law. It also highlights the most obvious similarities and differences in both sets of rules. This contribution goes beyond simple tertium comparisons; the authors analyse which of the two laws offers better, or more effective, rules to achieve the desired contract law functions in various matters. Readers are provided with the best rule or solution to address the problem in question and, as the authors hope, they should conclude that both models provide for a range of complementary solutions for modern contract law reforms.


Edgardo Muñoz
Professor of Law, Universidad Panamericana. School of Law. Calzada Álvaro del Portillo 49, Zapopan, Jalisco, 45010, Mexico. Ph.D. (Basel), LL.M. (UC Berkeley), LL.M. (Liverpool), LL.B. (UIA Mexico), DEUF (Lyon), emunoz@up.edu.mx.

Inés Morfín Kroepfly
Ines Morfin Kroepfly, J.D., Universidad Panamericana, Guadalajara.
Title

Parliamentary Follow-up of Law Commission Bills

An Irish Perspective

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2020
Keywords law reform, legislation, Ireland, drafting, parliament
Authors Ciarán Burke
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article seeks to present a brief outline of the various means through which the draft bills and recommendations drafted by the Law Reform Commission of Ireland and published in its reports are followed up by the Irish Parliament, the Oireachtas. The Commission’s position within the Irish legislative architecture is explained, as is the process through which bills become laws in Ireland. The Commission, it is noted, occupies an unusual role. Although there is no requirement for its publications to result in legislation, ultimately the lion’s share of its output is followed up on in the legislative process in one form or another, with its publications attracting the attention of both the government and opposition parties. The challenges and advantages presented by operating within a small jurisdiction are also outlined, while some thoughts are offered on the Commission’s future.


Ciarán Burke
Professor of International Law, Friedrich Schiller Universität, Jena, and former Director of Research at the Law Reform Commission of Ireland. The author would like to thank Alexandra Molitorisovà for her help in preparing this article.
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