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Article

Methods and Materials in Constitutional Law

Some Thoughts on Access to Government Information as a Problem for Constitutional Theory and Socio-Legal Studies

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2011
Keywords Citizenship, democracy, government information, representative government, secrecy
Authors Barry Sullivan
AbstractAuthor's information

    To be subject to law, Hobbes argued, is to be deprived of liberty, as we understand it. In this respect, democratic governments are no different from others. Hobbes’s insight has not caused us to abandon our commitments to democracy, but it still challenges us to think hard about the nature of representative government, the nature of citizenship in a democratic society, and the conditions necessary for fulfilling the promise of democratic citizenship. Two recent trends are evident. Some citizens have embraced a more active sense of citizenship, which necessarily entails a more insistent need for information, while governments have insisted on the need for greater concentration of governmental power and a higher degree of secrecy. Much is to be learned from the approaches that various national and transnational regimes have taken with respect to this problem. This essay will consider the problem of access to government information from a comparative perspective and as a problem for constitutional theory and socio-legal studies.


Barry Sullivan
Cooney & Conway Chair in Advocacy and Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Article

The Problems and Promises of a Legal Constitution

The Constitutional State and History

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2011
Keywords constitutional state, legitimacy, progressive history, legal constitution, political constitution
Authors Davit Zedelashvili
AbstractAuthor's information

    Nowadays, in the West, especially on the European Continent, the legitimacy of the modern state is once again subject to multifarious challenges. Against this background, the article revives one of the most important, though often overlooked themes of the constitutional theory, the relevance of the concept of progressive history for the legitimacy of the constitutional state. It is suggested, that the reappearance of the progressive history brings the supposedly forgotten themes of the objectivist metaphysics, back into the constitutional theory. The conclusion points that, only the accounts of a legal constitution, which reject the connection with progressive history, have the potential to deal with the problematic consequences that the reemergence of the metaphysically charged concept of progressive history may entail, given the contemporary socio-political conditions, characterized by the value and ideological pluralism.


Davit Zedelashvili
SJD Candidate in Comparative Constitutional Law, Central European University, Budapest.
Article

In the Judicial Steps of Bolívar and Morazán?

Supranational Court Conversations Between Europe and Latin America

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2011
Keywords courts, dialogue, integration, regionalism, case-law
Authors Allan F. Tatham
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper explores the issues of judicial dialogue and constitutional migrations between the European Court of Justice (‘ECJ’) and Latin American regional courts. It considers the impact of the ECJ’s ‘constitutional’ case-law regarding supremacy and direct effect on the decisions of the Central American Court of Justice (‘CCJ’) and the Court of Justice of the Andean Community (‘ACCJ’). The study proceeds from a brief exposition of the legal aspects of the EU model of integration, before moving to identify the main factors which led to the selection of Latin American courts and to outline the background to integration in the two sub-regions. In addressing the CCJ and ACCJ, a short history and sketch of their jurisdiction is given before examining the impact of the migration of the integrationist activism of the ECJ on these regional judicial institutions.


Allan F. Tatham
Péter Pázmány Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary. The usual disclaimer applies.
Article

Competing Constitutional Ideals in the United States’ Force Majeure-Federalism Cases

Calling the Shots in Disaster Management

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2011
Keywords federalism, force majeure, disaster, commerce clause, necessary and proper clause
Authors Riddhi Dasgupta
AbstractAuthor's information

    Structure is no less important than substance in the long run. When dealing with disaster management, what is truly national and what is truly local? Disasters are the “perfect” time, if only because of the confusion they sow and/or witness, for the central government to usurp some sovereign powers of its constituent states (and sometimes vice versa). This article examines where, in the American model with its strong federalism tradition, the constitutional tipping point lies. The article conveys the practical imperatives of federalism and why ordinary citizens should care: a federalist structure to promote democratic participation and the carrying out of democratic will by splitting up authority and stopping any one layer of government from becoming too powerful or making it a dysfunctional appendage. That has special significance in the disaster context, of course, and there is no better kaleidoscope than the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill.


Riddhi Dasgupta
Doctoral student (Expropriation in International Investment Regimes), University of Cambridge.
Article

Judicial Activism

Usurpation of Parliament’s and Executive’s Legislative Functions, or a Quest for Justice and Social Transformation

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2011
Keywords judicial activism, separation of powers, constitutional interpretation
Authors Reyneck Matemba
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article examines the concept of judicial activism in relation to the courts’ role of interpreting legislation, particularly focusing on the courts’ function of interpreting the Constitution. It specifically examines modes of constitutional interpretation obtaining in RSA and Nigeria, by focusing on selected judicial decisions by superior courts in the two countries. It also examines constitutional provisions governing the interpretation of the Constitution (Bill of Rights) and legislation as provided for in the Constitution of RSA and that of Nigeria. It also makes a comparative examination of judicial approaches to the interpretation of socio-economic rights enshrined in the Constitution of each of the two countries, specifically focusing on the rights to health and housing.The article observes that the concept of judicial activism is a necessary tool for attaining justice and achieving social transformation.


Reyneck Matemba
Reyneck Thokozani Matemba is a member of the Malawi Law Society and the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel (CALC) and works as an Assistant Chief Legislative Counsel for the Ministry of Justice, Malawi.
Article

Instructions to Draft Legislation

A Study on the Legislative Drafting Process in Malaysia

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2011
Keywords legislative drafting process, role of instructing officer and drafter
Authors Rozmizan Muhamad
AbstractAuthor's information

    The importance of legislation is beyond any dispute. Legislation governed us perhaps even before our birth, certainly during our life and until our death. Even after our death there is still the Estate Duty Act to worry about, although of course the burden passes on to our executors or administrators. But day after day, many more new laws have been proposed and many existing laws have been revised and amended for various reasons and motives. The need for legislation has never diminished but continues to increase. Governments need legislation to govern, by which they achieve their political objectives and public policies. In other words, legislation is needed to affect changes in the law, to interfere with vested rights and interests, and to impose taxes, duties, excise and imposts. Such need originates from one or more of a great many sources such as a commission of inquiry, politicians, a particular pressure group or the public as a whole and also a reaction to social situations which seemingly develop independently or deliberately


Rozmizan Muhamad
Rozmizan Muhamad is a drafter at the Malaysian Attorney-General’s office.
Article

Legislative Drafting and Human Rights

The Example of the European Arrest Warrant

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2011
Keywords rule of law, drafting EU legislation, Framework Decision 2002/584 on the European Arrest Warrant
Authors William Robinson
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article considers some of the requirements for good laws, focusing in particular on the drafters’ perspective. It looks first in general terms at the requirements forming part of the rule of law that laws be accessible and predictable. It then examines the drafting of laws in the European Union: how it is done; the concern to make EU laws accessible; and specific features of EU legislative drafting rules and practices, illustrated by reference to Framework Decision 2002/584.


William Robinson
Sir William Dale Visiting Fellow, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London.

    This paper will make the case for more widespread African adherence to the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods, 1980 (“CISG”) on the ground that it represents an effort through the United Nations system to make available harmonised rules on the international sale of goods which are intended to have an international and universal reach. The paper begins with an introduction which briefly examines the origins of CISG and proceeds to discuss the relevance of CISG to Africa. It ends with a recommendation to African States to accede to, or ratify, the Convention.


S.K. Date-Bah
LL.B (Ghana), LL.M (Yale), Ph.D (London School of Economics), Professor of law. Justice at the Supreme Court of Ghana.

    Africa is a major source of commodities and other natural resources. However, such wealth has not yet led to economic development or to increased living standards. On the contrary, Africa remains underdeveloped while other regions of the world enjoy significant, if not spectacular, success. Between 1970 and 2008, the pro-capita income of African energy-exporting countries has increased 72%, while that of African Least Developed Countries has decreased 13%, and that of remaining African countries has increased 31%; in the same period of time, the increase in pro-capita income for South Asian and East Asian low income countries has been, respectively, 236% and 223%, and that of China a staggering 1,531%.


Luca G. Castellani
Legal officer with the UNCITRAL Secretariat, Vienna, Austria. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.

    The unification or harmonisation of laws and legal systems is not a new phenomenon. Schmitthoff describes the wave of national unification of commercial laws in Europe during the nineteenth century as a method of obtaining political unity. According to Faria similar results were achieved on a wider scale by the dissemination of English legal traditions throughout common law jurisdictions. What he describes as the “ultimate goal”, however, was the unification of private law, the benefits of which had been extolled by Lord Justice Kennedy as early as 1909.


Riekie Wandrag
LL.B., LL.M. (Free State University), LL.M. (Cambridge), Associate Professor of Law, University of the Western Cape.
Article

Is Africa Ready for Electronic Commerce?

A Critical Appraisal of the Legal Framework for Ecommerce in Africa

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3-4 2011
Authors Nnaemeka Ewelukwa
AbstractAuthor's information

    It remains a daunting but not insurmountable challenge to actualize broad-based long term economic development in Africa. Statistics indicate that the poverty level in the continent is very high and the continent’s contribution to global trade remains very low in terms of export outflows. While acknowledging the negative aspects of Africa’s development however, it is important to note that the future may yet become brighter if key steps are taken by law and policy makers in the continent to put in place laws and policies that can facilitate the development process. One of the ways in which economic development can be facilitated is to significantly boost Africa’s contribution to global trade. In this regard, it has been noted that ‘After falling by 2.5% in 2009, export volumes of African countries are expected to increase on average by 3.2% in 2010 and by 5% in 2011.


Nnaemeka Ewelukwa
Dr. iur. (Queen Mary, London), Senior Teaching Fellow, International Trade Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (SOAS).

    Multinational Companies may result in culture clashes, incompatibility of Western corporate governance and legal resolution strategies. As one of the most successful joint venture models, the high-profile Danone/Wahaha dispute has been accelerated into a two-year legal feud against the infringement of the famous brand of WAHAHA across jurisdictions. The case represents a significant watershed which reflects the status quo of controversies over cooperation and competition in China. Under the current legal framework, Danone’s withdrawal would serve as a wake-up call for both foreign investors and Chinese companies in the dramatically increasing cross-border merger & acquisitions. The seminal case perfectly illustrates unwritten issues about public opinion, nationalism and the rule of law. Danone v. Wahaha has also been commonly conceived as a landmark case through which Chinese side may verify the fairness of the Western judicial system, while the European party may regard it as a touchstone for China’s investment environment as well as the specific sphere of contract spirit. It also offers myriad lessons, including the need for watertight contracts, IP rights, and international arbitrations.


Quingxui Bu
Dr. iur., LL.M. (Queen’s University).

    When discussing regional and global unification of sales law it seems appropriate to briefly mention the globalisation of trade. The overall development of international trade over the last half century is startling. Although in Fall 2008 and persisting into 2009 there was a sharp decline worldwide – in 2009 alone the drop amounted to 12% –, preliminary figures indicate a strong rebound, with value of trade in 2010 said to expand by 9,5% compared to 2009. WTO figures for 2008 indicate that worldwide merchandise export trade amounted to 15,717 billion USD and worldwide merchandise import trade to 16,127 billion USD. These figures are approximately 100 times more than 45 years ago and more than 10 times the level at the time of the signing of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (“CISG”) in 1980. The average annual growth from 2000 to 2008 was more than 5% for both exports and imports worldwide. No longer is the highest growth found in North America, Europe and Japan, but instead it is the transition economies from different points of the globe – particularly China, Brazil, Russia and some African countries. Disregarding the figures for 2009, in Africa the annual growth of exports amounted to 18% in 2007 and 28% in 2008, that of imports to 23% in 2007 and to 27% in 2008.


Ingeborg Schwenzer
Dr. iur (Freiburg, Germany), LL.M. (Berkeley, USA), Professor for Private Law, University of Basel, Switzerland.
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