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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

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

Governments as Covid-19 Lawmakers in France, Italy and Spain

Continuity or Discontinuity

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords Covid-19, emergency legislation, executive lawmaking, parliaments, decree-laws and ordinances
Authors Elena Griglio
AbstractAuthor's information

    Executive dominance in Covid-19 lawmaking has been a major trend worldwide. Governments have leveraged emergency prerogatives to boost their legislative powers, often sidelining the role of parliaments. The impact of executive lawmaking on fundamental liberties has been unprecedented. However, government’s capacity to exercise full legislative powers is not absolutely new to many European countries.
    This trend is analysed in the article comparing practices in the pandemic and in normal times, not specifically related to a state of emergency. To this end, three countries have been selected because of their constitutional clauses allotting lawmaking powers to the government even outside of emergency situations. This refers to the decree-laws in Italy and Spain and the ordonnances in France. The question addressed is whether there are relevant differences in the use made of these mechanisms during the pandemic.
    The results of this comparative analysis demonstrate that there is much continuity in the executive’s reliance on these mechanisms. However, discontinuity may be detected on the ground of the exceptional impact produced on constitutional rights and on the substantive values that legislation should protect. Therefore, from the perspective of the rollback of the emergency legislation, the role of parliaments, based on the core difference in the democratic status between lawmaking and legislation, turns out to be crucial.


Elena Griglio
Elena Griglio is Senior Parliamentary Official of the Italian Senate and Adjunct Professor at LUISS University, Rome.
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

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.
Article

The Windrush Scandal

A Review of Citizenship, Belonging and Justice in the United Kingdom

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Windrush generation, statelessness, right to nationality, genocide, apologetic UK Human Rights Act Preamble
Authors Namitasha Goring, Beverley Beckford and Simone Bowman
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article points out that the UK Human Rights Act, 1998 does not have a clear provision guaranteeing a person’s right to a nationality. Instead, this right is buried in the European Court of Human Rights decisions of Smirnova v Russia, 2003 and Alpeyeva and Dzhalagoniya v. Russia, 2018. In these cases, the Court stretched the scope of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, 1953 on non-interference with private life by public authorities to extend to nationality. The humanitarian crisis arising from the Windrush Scandal was caused by the UK Government’s decision to destroy the Windrush Generation’s landing cards in the full knowledge that for many these slips of paper were the only evidence of their legitimate arrival in Britain between 1948 and 1971.
    The kindling for this debacle was the ‘hostile environment policy’, later the ‘compliant environment policy’ that operated to formally strip British citizens of their right to a nationality in flagrant violation of international and domestic law. This article argues that the Human Rights Act, 1998 must be amended to include a very clear provision that guarantees in the UK a person’s right to a nationality as a portal to a person’s inalienable right to life. This balances the wide discretion of the Secretary of State under Section 4 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act, 2002 to deprive a person of their right to a nationality if they are deemed to have done something seriously prejudicial to the interests of the UK.
    This article also strongly recommends that the Preamble to the UK Human Rights Act, 1998 as a de facto bill of rights, be amended to put into statutory language Independent Advisor Wendy Williams’ ‘unqualified apology’ recommendation in the Windrush Lessons Learned Report for the deaths, serious bodily and mental harm inflicted on the Windrush Generation. This type of statutory contrition is in line with those of countries that have carried out similar grievous institutional abuses and their pledge to prevent similar atrocities in the future. This article’s contribution to the scholarship on the Human Rights Act, 1998 is that the Windrush Generation Scandal, like African slavery and British colonization, has long-term intergenerational effects. As such, it is fundamentally important that there is a sharp, comprehensive and enforceable legal mechanism for safeguarding the rights and interests of citizens as well as settled migrants of ethnically non-British ancestry who are clearly vulnerable to bureaucratic impulses.


Namitasha Goring
Namitasha Goring, Law and Criminology Lecturer Haringey Sixth Form College, LLM, PhD.

Beverley Beckford
Beverly Beckford, Barrister (Unregistered) (LLM).

Simone Bowman
Simone Bowman, Barrister (LLM Candidate DeMontford University).
Article

Regional Differentiation in Europe, between EU Proposals and National Reforms

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2020
Keywords regional differentiation, regional disparities, autonomy, regionalism, subsidiarity, European Union, multilevel governance
Authors Gabriella Saputelli
AbstractAuthor's information

    Regions and local governments play a very important role in the application of European law and in the implementation of European policies. The economic crisis of 2008 has accentuated territorial and social differentiation and highlighted the negative effects of globalization. This circumstance has created resentment among peripheral and marginal communities in the electoral results, but also a strong request for involvement, participation and sometimes independence from territories. These developments raise new questions about the relationship between the EU and the Regions and, more widely, about the role of subnational entities in the EU integration process, as they are the institutions nearest to citizens.
    The aim of this article is to contribute to that debate by exploring the following research question: ‘is subnational differentiation positive or negative for European integration?’ Towards a possible answer, two perspectives are examined from a constitutional law approach. From the top down, it examines the attitude of the EU towards regional differentiation, from the origins of the EU integration process and its development until recent initiatives and proposals. From the bottom up, it analyses the role of subnational entities by presenting the Italian experience, through the reforms that have been approved over the years until the recent proposal for asymmetric regionalism. The aim is to understand whether regional differentiation still represents a positive element for the European integration process, considering the role that subnational entities play in many policies and the challenges described earlier.


Gabriella Saputelli
Researcher of Public Law at the Institute for the Study of Regionalism, Federalism and Self Government (ISSiRFA) of the National Research Council (CNR).
Article

Access_open Parliamentary Scrutiny of Law Reform in Albania

Bodies, Procedures and Methods

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Parliament of Albania, law reform, Standing Committees, European Integration, Council on the Legislation, National Council for European Integration, Committee on European Integration
Authors Dr. Oriola Sallavaci
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article throws light on the parliamentary scrutiny of law reform in Albania, which so far has not received sufficient attention in academic literature. The article provides a review of the bodies, procedures and mechanisms for the scrutiny of legal reform, as specified in the Constitution of Albania, Parliament’s Rules of Procedure and other specific statutes. Research on the activities of these bodies during the past three years, as reported by the official sources, throws light on the problematic aspects of their work and enables recommendations to be made which will lead to a more effective role of Parliament in legal reform. This is paramount considering the past few years of political instability in the country, at a time when Albanian’s European Integration is at stake


Dr. Oriola Sallavaci
Dr. Oriola Sallavaci is Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Essex, United Kingdom. Oriola holds, inter alia, an LLB (1999) and an LLM (2003) from the University of Tirana, Albania, where she taught law for over five years. She is a qualified Albanian advocate and an expert on Albanian law. An earlier version of this article was presented at the IALS Workshop ‘Parliamentary Scrutiny of Law Reform’, held at IALS, London, on 4 November 2019. The author wishes to thank Jonathan Teasdale and Enrico Albanesi for their comments on an earlier draft.
Article

Law Reform Bills in the Parliament of the United Kingdom

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2020
Keywords law reform, consolidation, statute law, parliament, Law Commission
Authors Andrew Makower and Liam Laurence Smyth
AbstractAuthor's information

    The officials responsible for the procedures for scrutiny of proposed legislation in the UK Parliament and for the accuracy and integrity of legislative text describe how the UK Parliament scrutinizes consolidation and law reform bills and the government’s law reform programme, test the proposition that law reform is impeded by a shortage of parliamentary time, and survey ways in which Parliament could encourage and facilitate such legislation.


Andrew Makower
Andrew Makower, Clerk of Legislation, House of Lords.

Liam Laurence Smyth
Liam Laurence Smyth, Clerk of Legislation, House of Commons.
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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