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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

Increased Uptake of Surveillance Technologies During COVID-19

Implications for Democracies in the Global South

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords surveillance technology, platform economy, COVID-19, democracy, global south, belt and road initiative
Authors Alex Read
AbstractAuthor's information

    Social change and introduction of new technologies have historically followed crises such as pandemics, and COVID-19 has seen increasing public tracking through the use of digital surveillance technology. While surveillance technology is a key tool for enhancing virus preparedness and reducing societal risks, the speed of uptake is likely to raise ethical questions where citizens are monitored and personal data is collected. COVID-19 has occurred during a period of democratic decline, and the predominant surveillance-based business model of the ‘platform economy’, together with the development and export of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered surveillance tools, carries particular risks for democratic development in the countries of the Global South. Increased use of surveillance technology has implications for human rights and can undermine the individual privacy required for democracies to flourish. Responses to these threats must come from new regulatory regimes and innovations within democracies and a renewed international approach to the threats across democracies of the Global North and South.


Alex Read
Alex Read, democratic governance consultant for organisations including UNDP, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
Article

Plain Language

A Promising Tool for Quality Legislation

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2018
Keywords plain language, clarity, precision, accessibility, interpretation
Authors Kally K.L. Lam LLB
AbstractAuthor's information

    The hypothesis of this article is that plain language drafting with innovative drafting techniques can improve the quality of legislation. Further to this, the article tries to prove that quality legislation can also make the law more accessible to its general audience. With regard to quality, the article assesses plain language drafting with innovative drafting techniques using Helen Xanthaki’s criteria of quality in legislation, i.e. that it should be clear, precise and unambiguous. With regard to accessibility, it is defined broadly as to include readability. I will first assess whether plain language drafting with innovative drafting techniques can meet the expectations of its general audience and second discuss whether legislation drafted in plain language with innovative techniques passes the usability tests.


Kally K.L. Lam LLB
Kally K.L. Lam, LLB (University of Hong Kong), LLM (University of London) is Solicitor (Hong Kong).
Article

“What Does He Think This Is? The Court of Human Rights or the United Nations?”

(Plain) Language in the Written Memories of Arbitral Proceedings: A Cross-Cultural Case Study

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2014
Keywords arbitration, legal language, plain language, specialised discourse, corpus linguistics
Authors Stefania Maria Maci
AbstractAuthor's information

    Arbitration as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is an extra-judicial process resolved privately outside an ordinary court of justice. As such, the award has the same legal effects as a judgment pronounced by a court judge. Arbitration can be preceded by a pre-trial process in which arbitrators try to reach a conciliation agreement between the parties. If an agreement is not reached, the arbitration process begins with the gathering of the parties’ memories. In both oral and written evidence, language is used argumentatively, and above all persuasively, by all sides or parties involved.
    Extensive studies in arbitration have been carried out from the viewpoint of law. From an applied linguistics angle, the study of interaction in legal contexts has recently been carried out with particular regard to witness testimony and cross-examination in international commercial arbitration within the processes of arbitral hearings and the writing of minutes.
    To the best of my knowledge, to date there has never been an investigation on plain language in arbitral memories across national and professional cultures. Therefore, by carrying out a comparative analysis of the written evidence presented in two arbitral processes, this paper tries to evaluate the degree of influence that different legal cultures may exert on the type of language used in written arbitration evidence. The main objective is to offer insights into some instances of arbitration proceedings and their development within their British and Italian contexts.


Stefania Maria Maci
Stefania M. Maci is Aggregate Professor of English Language and Translation at the University of Bergamo, where she teaches English linguistic courses at graduate and undergraduate level. She is member of CERLIS (Research Centre on Specialized Languages), CLAVIER (The Corpus and Language Variation in English Research Group), BAAL (British Association of Applied Linguistics), and AIA (Associazione Italiana di Anglistica).
Article

Responsive Law Reform: A Case Study in Privacy and the Media

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2013
Keywords law reform, regulatory theory, privacy, free speech, media
Authors Megan Richardson
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article develops a regulatory theory of law reform for common law jurisdictions drawing on a model of responsive regulation and applies it to a case study in Privacy and the Media with particular reference to law reform initiatives in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.


Megan Richardson
Professor of Law and Co-Director Centre for Media & Communications Law, Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne, former member of an International Advisory Panel for the New South Wales Law Reform Commission reference on invasion of privacy. This article was substantially written at the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, where I had the privilege of being a Research Fellow in September–December 2012. I am grateful to the Institute for allowing me to spend three months in this excellent facility and also to my home institution, The Melbourne Law School, for supporting my research period abroad. The ideas in this article were presented at seminars at the Institute and at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London. I am grateful to those who attended for their helpful comments and especially to Tanya Aplin, Lyria Bennett Moses, Desmond Browne QC, Stewart Dresner, James Michael and Jan Oster. Thanks also to my colleagues Andrew Kenyon and Jason Bosland for additional helpful insights.

Michelle Bogre
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