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Article

Access_open Text-mining for Lawyers: How Machine Learning Techniques Can Advance our Understanding of Legal Discourse

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2021
Keywords text mining, machine learning, law, natural language processing
Authors Arthur Dyevre
AbstractAuthor's information

    Many questions facing legal scholars and practitioners can be answered only by analysing and interrogating large collections of legal documents: statutes, treaties, judicial decisions and law review articles. I survey a range of novel techniques in machine learning and natural language processing – including topic modelling, word embeddings and transfer learning – that can be applied to the large-scale investigation of legal texts


Arthur Dyevre
Arthur Dyevre is Professor at the KU Leuven Centre for Empirical Jurisprudence, Leuven, Belgium. arthur.dyevre@kuleuven.be.
Article

Access_open Teaching Technology to (Future) Lawyers

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2021
Keywords legal education, law and technology, legal analytics, technology education, technological literacy
Authors Mikołaj Barczentewicz
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article offers a reflection on how applications of computer technology (including data analytics) are and may be taught to (future) lawyers and what are the benefits and limitations of the different approaches. There is a growing sense among legal professionals and law teachers that the technological changes in the practice of law are likely to promote the kind of knowledge and skills that law graduates often do not possess today. Teaching computer technology can be done in various ways and at various depths, and those different ways and levels have different cost and benefit considerations. The article discusses four models of teaching technology: (1) teaching basic technological literacy, (2) more advanced but general technology teaching, (3) teaching computer programming and quantitative methods and (4) teaching a particular aspect of technology – other than programming (e.g. cybersecurity). I suggest that there are strong reasons for all current and future lawyers to acquire proficiency in effective uses of office and legal research software and standard means of online communication and basic cybersecurity. This can be combined with teaching of numerical and informational literacy. I also claim that advanced technology topics, like computer programming, should be taught only to the extent that this is justified by the direct need for such skills and knowledge in students’ future careers, which I predict to be true for only a minority of current lawyers and law students.


Mikołaj Barczentewicz
Mikołaj Barczentewicz is the Research Director, Surrey Law and Technology Hub, as well as Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Law, University of Surrey School of Law. He is also a Research Associate of the University of Oxford Centre for Technology and Global Affairs.
Article

Access_open Big Data Ethics: A Life Cycle Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2021
Keywords big data, big data analysis, data life cycle, ethics, AI
Authors Simon Vydra, Andrei Poama, Sarah Giest e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    The adoption of big data analysis in the legal domain is a recent but growing trend that highlights ethical concerns not just with big data analysis, as such, but also with its deployment in the legal domain. This article systematically analyses five big data use cases from the legal domain utilising a pluralistic and pragmatic mode of ethical reasoning. In each case we analyse what happens with data from its creation to its eventual archival or deletion, for which we utilise the concept of ‘data life cycle’. Despite the exploratory nature of this article and some limitations of our approach, the systematic summary we deliver depicts the five cases in detail, reinforces the idea that ethically significant issues exist across the entire big data life cycle, and facilitates understanding of how various ethical considerations interact with one another throughout the big data life cycle. Furthermore, owing to its pragmatic and pluralist nature, the approach is potentially useful for practitioners aiming to interrogate big data use cases.


Simon Vydra
Simon Vydra is a Researcher at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Andrei Poama
Andrei Poama is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Sarah Giest
Sarah Giest is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Alex Ingrams
Alex Ingrams is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Bram Klievink
Bram Klievink is Professor of Digitization and Public Policy at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open The Role of the Vienna Rules in the Interpretation of the ECHR A Normative Basis or a Source of Inspiration?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2021
Keywords European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, techniques of interpretation, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
Authors Eszter Polgári
AbstractAuthor's information

    The interpretive techniques applied by the European Court of Human Rights are instrumental in filling the vaguely formulated rights-provisions with progressive content, and their use provoked widespread criticism. The article argues that despite the scarcity of explicit references to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, all the ECtHR’s methods and doctrines of interpretation have basis in the VCLT, and the ECtHR has not developed a competing framework. The Vienna rules are flexible enough to accommodate the interpretive rules developed in the ECHR jurisprudence, although effectiveness and evolutive interpretation is favoured – due to the unique nature of Convention – over the more traditional means of interpretation, such as textualism. Applying the VCLT as a normative framework offers unique ways of reconceptualising some of the much-contested means of interpretation in order to increase the legitimacy of the ECtHR.


Eszter Polgári
Eszter Polgári, PhD, is assistant professor at the Department of Legal Studies of the Central European University in Austria.
Article

Access_open Chosen Blindness or a Revelation of the Truth?

A New Procedure for Revision in Belgium

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords final criminal conviction, revision procedure, grounds for revision, Court of Cassation, Commission for revision in criminal matters
Authors Katrien Verhesschen and Cyrille Fijnaut
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Belgian Code of criminal procedure provides the possibility to revise final criminal convictions. This procedure had remained more or less untouched for 124 years, but was finally reformed by the Act of 2018, after criticism was voiced in legal doctrine concerning its narrow scope and possible appearances of partiality and prejudice. The Act of 2018 therefore broadened the third ground for revision, the so-called novum, and defined it as an element that was unknown to the judge during the initial proceedings and impossible for the convicted person to demonstrate at that time and that, alone or combined with evidence that was gathered earlier, seems incompatible with the conviction, thus creating a strong suspicion that, if it had been known, it would have led to a more favourable outcome. Thereby, this ground for revision is no longer limited to factual circumstances, but also includes changed appreciations by experts. To counter appearances of partiality and prejudice, the Act of 2018 created the Commission for revision in criminal matters, a multidisciplinary body that has to give non-binding advice to the Court of Cassation on the presence of a novum. However, the legislature also introduced new hurdles on the path to revision, such as the requirement for the applicant to add pieces that demonstrate the ground for revision in order for his or her request to be admissible. For that reason, the application in practice will have to demonstrate whether the Act of 2018 made the revision procedure more accessible in reality.


Katrien Verhesschen
Katrien Verhesschen is a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the Institute of Criminal Law KU Leuven.

Cyrille Fijnaut
Cyrille Fijnaut is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Law & Criminology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, KU Leuven and Tilburg University.
Article

Access_open Post-Conviction Remedies in the Italian Criminal Justice System

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords wrongful conviction, revision, extraordinary appeal, rescission of final judgment, res judicata
Authors Luca Lupária Donati and Marco Pittiruti
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Italian Constitution expressly contemplates the possibility of a wrongful conviction, by stating that the law shall determine the conditions and forms regulating damages in case of judicial error. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that many provisions of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) deal with the topic. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the post-conviction remedies in the Italian legal system by considering the current provisions of the CCP, on the one hand, and by exploring their practical implementation, on the other.


Luca Lupária Donati
Luca Lupária is Full Professor of Criminal Procedure at Roma Tre University, Director of the Italy Innocence Project and President of the European Innocence Network.

Marco Pittiruti
Marco Pittiruti is researcher of Criminal Procedure at Roma Tre University.
Article

Access_open A European Approach to Revision in Criminal Matters?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Authors Joost Nan, Nina Holvast and Sjarai Lestrade
Author's information

Joost Nan
Joost Nan is Associate Professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Nina Holvast
Nina Holvast is Assistant Professor at the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Sjarai Lestrade
Sjarai Lestrade is Assistant Professor at the Radboud University Nijmegen.
Article

Access_open Between Legal Certainty and Doubt

The Developments in the Procedure to Overturn Wrongful Convictions in the Netherlands

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords revision law, post-conviction review, wrongful convictions, miscarriages of justice, criminal law, empirical research
Authors Nina Holvast, Joost Nan and Sjarai Lestrade
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Dutch legislature has recently (2012) altered the legislation for post-conviction revision of criminal cases. The legislature aimed to improve the balance between the competing interests of individual justice and the finality of verdicts, by making post-conviction revision more accessible. In this article we describe the current legal framework for revising cases. We also study how the revision procedure functions in practice, by looking at the types and numbers of (successful) requests for further investigations and applications for revision. We observe three challenges in finding the right balance in the revision process in the Netherlands. These challenges concern: 1) the scope of the novum criterion (which is strict), 2) the appropriate role of an advisory committee (the ACAS) in revision cases (functioning too much as a pre-filter for the Supreme Court) and, 3) the difficulties that arise due to requiring a defence council when requesting a revision (e.g., financial burdens).


Nina Holvast
Nina Holvast is Assistant Professor at the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Joost Nan
Joost Nan is Associate Professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Sjarai Lestrade
Sjarai Lestrade is Assistant Professor at the Radboud University Nijmegen.

    States apply different material conditions to attract or restrict residence of certain types of migrants. But states can also make use of time as an instrument to design more welcoming or more restrictive policies. States can apply faster application procedures for desired migrants. Furthermore, time can be used in a more favourable way to attract desired migrants in regard to duration of residence, access to a form of permanent residence and protection against loss of residence. This contribution makes an analysis of how time is used as an instrument in shaping migration policy by the European Union (EU) legislator in the context of making migration more or less attractive. This analysis shows that two groups are treated more favourably in regard to the use of time in several aspects: EU citizens and economic- and knowledge-related third-country nationals. However, when it comes to the acquisition of permanent residence after a certain period of time, the welcoming policy towards economic- and knowledge-related migrants is no longer obvious.


Gerrie Lodder
Gerrie Lodder is lecturer and researcher at the Europa Institute of Leiden University.
Article

Access_open Can Non-discrimination Law Change Hearts and Minds?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords law and society, social change, discrimination, non-discrimination law, positive action
Authors Anita Böcker
AbstractAuthor's information

    A question that has preoccupied sociolegal scholars for ages is whether law can change ‘hearts and minds’. This article explores whether non-discrimination law can create social change, and, more particularly, whether it can change attitudes and beliefs as well as external behaviour. The first part examines how sociolegal scholars have theorised about the possibility and desirability of using law as an instrument of social change. The second part discusses the findings of empirical research on the social working of various types of non-discrimination law. What conclusions can be drawn about the ability of non-discrimination law to create social change? What factors influence this ability? And can non-discrimination law change people’s hearts and minds as well as their behaviour? The research literature does not provide an unequivocal answer to the latter question. However, the overall picture emerging from the sociolegal literature is that law is generally more likely to bring about changes in external behaviour and that it can influence attitudes and beliefs only indirectly, by altering the situations in which attitudes and opinions are formed.


Anita Böcker
Anita Böcker is associate professor of Sociology of Law at Radboud University, Nijmegen.
Article

Access_open Positive State Obligations under European Law: A Tool for Achieving Substantive Equality for Sexual Minorities in Europe

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Positive obligations, sexual minorities, sexual orientation, European law, human rights
Authors Alina Tryfonidou
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article seeks to examine the development of positive obligations under European law in the specific context of the rights of sexual minorities. It is clear that the law should respect and protect all sexualities and diverse intimate relationships without discrimination, and for this purpose it needs to ensure that sexual minorities can not only be free from state interference when expressing their sexuality in private, but that they should be given the right to express their sexuality in public and to have their intimate relationships legally recognised. In addition, sexual minorities should be protected from the actions of other individuals, when these violate their legal and fundamental human rights. Accordingly, in addition to negative obligations, European law must impose positive obligations towards sexual minorities in order to achieve substantive equality for them. The article explains that, to date, European law has imposed a number of such positive obligations; nonetheless, there is definitely scope for more. It is suggested that European law should not wait for hearts and minds to change before imposing additional positive obligations, especially since this gives the impression that the EU and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) are condoning or disregarding persistent discrimination against sexual minorities.


Alina Tryfonidou
Alina Tryfonidou is Professor of Law, University of Reading.
Article

Access_open A Positive State Obligation to Counter Dehumanisation under International Human Rights Law

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Dehumanisation, International Human Rights Law, Positive State obligations, Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination
Authors Stephanie Eleanor Berry
AbstractAuthor's information

    International human rights law (IHRL) was established in the aftermath of the Second World War to prevent a reoccurrence of the atrocities committed in the name of fascism. Central to this aim was the recognition that out-groups are particularly vulnerable to rights violations committed by the in-group. Yet, it is increasingly apparent that out-groups are still subject to a wide range of rights violations, including those associated with mass atrocities. These rights violations are facilitated by the dehumanisation of the out-group by the in-group. Consequently, this article argues that the creation of IHRL treaties and corresponding monitoring mechanisms should be viewed as the first step towards protecting out-groups from human rights violations. By adopting the lens of dehumanisation, this article demonstrates that if IHRL is to achieve its purpose, IHRL monitoring mechanisms must recognise the connection between dehumanisation and rights violations and develop a positive State obligation to counter dehumanisation. The four treaties explored in this article, the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, all establish positive State obligations to prevent hate speech and to foster tolerant societies. These obligations should, in theory, allow IHRL monitoring mechanisms to address dehumanisation. However, their interpretation of the positive State obligation to foster tolerant societies does not go far enough to counter unconscious dehumanisation and requires more detailed elaboration.


Stephanie Eleanor Berry
Stephanie Eleanor Berry is Senior Lecturer in International Human Rights Law, University of Sussex.
Article

Access_open The Potential of Positive Obligations Against Romaphobic Attitudes and in the Development of ‘Roma Pride’

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Roma, Travellers, positive obligations, segregation, culturally adequate accommodation
Authors Lilla Farkas and Theodoros Alexandridis
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article analyses the jurisprudence of international tribunals on the education and housing of Roma and Travellers to understand whether positive obligations can change the hearts and minds of the majority and promote minority identities. Case law on education deals with integration rather than cultural specificities, while in the context of housing it accommodates minority needs. Positive obligations have achieved a higher level of compliance in the latter context by requiring majorities to tolerate the minority way of life in overwhelmingly segregated settings. Conversely, little seems to have changed in education, where legal and institutional reform, as well as a shift in both majority and minority attitudes, would be necessary to dismantle social distance and generate mutual trust. The interlocking factors of accessibility, judicial activism, European politics, expectations of political allegiance and community resources explain jurisprudential developments. The weak justiciability of minority rights, the lack of resources internal to the community and dual identities among the Eastern Roma impede legal claims for culture-specific accommodation in education. Conversely, the protection of minority identity and community ties is of paramount importance in the housing context, subsumed under the right to private and family life.


Lilla Farkas
Lilla Farkas is a practising lawyer in Hungary and recently earned a PhD from the European University Institute entitled ‘Mobilising for racial equality in Europe: Roma rights and transnational justice’. She is the race ground coordinator of the European Union’s Network of Legal Experts in Gender Equality and Non-discrimination.

Theodoros Alexandridis
Theodoros Alexandridis is a practicing lawyer in Greece.

    The entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) pushed state obligations to counter prejudice and stereotypes concerning people with disabilities to the forefront of international human rights law. The CRPD is underpinned by a model of inclusive equality, which views disability as a social construct that results from the interaction between persons with impairments and barriers, including attitudinal barriers, that hinder their participation in society. The recognition dimension of inclusive equality, together with the CRPD’s provisions on awareness raising, mandates that states parties target prejudice and stereotypes about the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities to society. Certain human rights treaty bodies, including the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and, to a much lesser extent, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, require states to eradicate harmful stereotypes and prejudice about people with disabilities in various forms of interpersonal relationships. This trend is also reflected, to a certain extent, in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. This article assesses the extent to which the aforementioned human rights bodies have elaborated positive obligations requiring states to endeavour to change ‘hearts and minds’ about the inherent capabilities and contributions of people with disabilities. It analyses whether these bodies have struck the right balance in elaborating positive obligations to eliminate prejudice and stereotypes in interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, it highlights the convergences or divergences that are evident in the bodies’ approaches to those obligations.


Andrea Broderick
Andrea Broderick is Assistant Professor at the Universiteit Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open State Obligations to Counter Islamophobia: Comparing Fault Lines in the International Supervisory Practice of the HRC/ICCPR, the ECtHR and the AC/FCNM

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Human rights, positive state obligations, islamophobia, international supervisory mechanisms
Authors Kristin Henrard
AbstractAuthor's information

    Islamophobia, like xenophobia, points to deep-seated, ingrained discrimination against a particular group, whose effective enjoyment of fundamental rights is impaired. This in turn triggers the human rights obligations of liberal democratic states, more particularly states’ positive obligations (informed by reasonability considerations) to ensure that fundamental rights are effectively enjoyed, and thus also respected in interpersonal relationships. This article identifies and compares the fault lines in the practice of three international human rights supervisory mechanisms in relation to Islamophobia, namely the Human Rights Committee (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), the European Court of Human Rights (European Convention on Human Rights) and the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The supervisory practice is analysed in two steps: The analysis of each international supervisory mechanism’s jurisprudence, in itself, is followed by the comparison of the fault lines. The latter comparison is structured around the two main strands of strategies that states could adopt in order to counter intolerance: On the one hand, the active promotion of tolerance, inter alia through education, awareness-raising campaigns and the stimulation of intercultural dialogue; on the other, countering acts informed by intolerance, in terms of the prohibition of discrimination (and/or the effective enjoyment of substantive fundamental rights). Having regard to the respective strengths and weaknesses of the supervisory practice of these three international supervisory mechanisms, the article concludes with some overarching recommendations.


Kristin Henrard
Kristin Henrard is Professor International Human Rights and Minorities, Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000: Proposals for Legislative Reform to Promote Equality through Schools and the Education System

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Transformative pedagogy, equality legislation, promotion of equality, law reform, using law to change hearts and minds
Authors Anton Kok, Lwando Xaso, Annalize Steenekamp e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, we focus on how the education system can be used to promote equality in the context of changing people’s hearts and minds – values, morals and mindsets. The duties contained in the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000 (‘Equality Act’) bind private and public schools, educators, learners, governing bodies and the state. The Equality Act calls on the state and all persons to promote substantive equality, but the relevant sections in the Equality Act have not been given effect yet, and are therefore currently not enforceable. We set out how the duty to promote equality should be concretised in the Equality Act to inter alia use the education system to promote equality in schools; in other words, how should an enforceable duty to promote equality in schools be fashioned in terms of the Equality Act. Should the relevant sections relating to the promotion of equality come into effect in their current form, enforcement of the promotion of equality will take the form of obliging schools to draft action plans and submit these to the South African Human Rights Commission. We deem this approach inadequate and therefore propose certain amendments to the Equality Act to allow for a more sensible monitoring of schools’ duty to promote equality. We explain how the duty to promote equality should then play out practically in the classroom to facilitate a change in learners’ hearts and minds.


Anton Kok
Anton Kok is Professor of Jurisprudence at the Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria.

Lwando Xaso
Lwando Xaso is an independent lawyer, writer and historian.

Annalize Steenekamp
Annalize Steenekamp, LLM, is a Multidisciplinary Human Rights graduate from the University of Pretoria.

Michelle Oelofse
Michelle Oelofse is an Academic associate and LLM candidate at the University of Pretoria.
Article

Access_open Ship Recycling Financial Instruments: A Tax or Not a Tax?

Some Brief Reflections

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Ship Recycling Fund, Ship Recycling License, green ship scrapping, EU concept of tax, earmarked tax
Authors Han Kogels and Ton Stevens
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article the question is reviewed whether two by the EU Commission proposed financial instruments to stimulate ‘green’ ship scrapping, (i) a Ship Recycling Fund (SRF) and (ii) a Ship Recycling License (SRL), might be qualified as a ‘tax’ under Article 192(2) TFEU. Qualification as such a “tax” would mean that the EU Commission can only introduce such a financial instrument with unanimity voting. The authors first explore the concept of ‘tax’ in the TFEU in general and in Article 192(2) TFEU in particular. Based on this analysis, the authors conclude that levies paid to an SRF might be qualified as an ‘earmarked tax’ falling within the definition of a ‘fiscal provision’ in the meaning of Article 192(2) TFEU, which means that levies to such a fund can only be introduced by unanimity voting. The SRL fee consists of two elements: (i) a fee to cover administrative expenses and (ii) a contribution to a savings account. The fee to cover administrative expenses is qualified by the authors as a retribution that should not be qualified as a fiscal provision in the meaning of Article 192(2) TFEU. The contribution to a blocked savings account can neither be qualified as a tax nor as a retribution. Therefore, the SRL fee can be introduced without unanimity voting by the EU Council.


Han Kogels
H.A. Kogels is Emeritus professor of European tax law Erasmus School of Law.

Ton Stevens
A.J.A. Stevens is Professor of corporation tax law Tilburg University and of counsel Loyens & Loeff, Rotterdam. He was previously holding the chair of international tax law at Erasmus School of Law and initially involved in the ship recycling financial instrument project but did not participate in the drafting of the final report.
Article

Access_open The Effectiveness Paradigm in Financial Legislation – Is Effectiveness Measurable?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2020
Keywords effectiveness, effectiveness measurement methodologies, financial legislation, legislative objective, product approval governance
Authors Jeroen Koomans
AbstractAuthor's information

    How can you determine if financial legislation is effective? This article seeks to identify three characteristics that make up the basis for an effectiveness review, being the determination what the legislative objective is, who is it aimed at and what approach is taken to achieve this objective. Determining the legislative objective may prove to be a challenging undertaking, and the uncertainties that come with that affect the other two characteristics as well. And even if a clear legislative objective can be established, how can you be sure that its achievement was in fact attributable to the legislation under review? What do you compare your results to absent a baseline measurement and how can the vast number of variables that affect the effectiveness of the legislation under review be accounted for, if at all? Is effectiveness in financial legislation at all measurable and, when measured, what is its value in practice?


Jeroen Koomans
Jeroen Koomans is affiliated to the University of Amsterdam FEB Academy for Banking and Insurance and employed by ABN AMRO Bank N.V.
Editorial

Access_open Introduction

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2020
Authors Frank Weerman Ph.D.
Author's information

Frank Weerman Ph.D.
Frank Weerman is Endowed Professor of Youth Criminology at the Erasmus School of Law and a senior researcher at the NSCR (Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement). From 2021 onwards, he is the editor-in-chief of the Erasmus Law Review.
Article

Access_open Age Limits in Youth Justice: A Comparative and Conceptual Analysis

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2020
Keywords youth justice, age limits, minimum age of criminal responsibility, age of criminal majority, legal comparison
Authors Jantien Leenknecht, Johan Put and Katrijn Veeckmans
AbstractAuthor's information

    In each youth justice system, several age limits exist that indicate what type of reaction can and may be connected to the degree of responsibility that a person can already bear. Civil liability, criminal responsibility and criminal majority are examples of concepts on which age limits are based, but whose definition and impact is not always clear. Especially as far as the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) is concerned, confusion exists in legal doctrine. This is apparent from the fact that international comparison tables often show different MACRs for the same country. Moreover, the international literature often seems to define youth justice systems by means of a lower and upper limit, whereas such a dual distinction is too basic to comprehend the complex multilayer nature of the systems. This contribution therefore maps out and conceptually clarifies the different interpretations and consequences of the several age limits that exist within youth justice systems. To that extent, the age limits of six countries are analysed: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Northern Ireland. This legal comparison ultimately leads to a proposal to establish a coherent conceptual framework on age limits in youth justice.


Jantien Leenknecht
Jantien Leenknecht is PhD Fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) at KU Leuven, Institute of Social Law and Leuven Institute of Criminology.

Johan Put
Johan Put is Full Professor at KU Leuven, Institute of Social Law and Leuven Institute of Criminology.

Katrijn Veeckmans
Katrijn Veeckmans is PhD Fellow at KU Leuven, Institute of Social Law and Leuven Institute of Criminology.
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