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Article

Access_open Faith and Scepticism in Private International Law: Trust, Governance, Politics, and Foreign Judgments

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2014
Keywords private international law, conflict of laws, foreign judgments, European Union, United States
Authors Christopher Whytock M.S., Ph.D., J.D.
AbstractAuthor's information

    In both the European Union (EU) and the United States (US), the law governing the enforcement of foreign judgments is evolving, but in different directions. EU law, especially after the elimination of exequatur by the 2012 ’Recast’ of the Brussels I Regulation, increasingly facilitates enforcement in member states of judgments of other member states’ courts, reflecting growing faith in a multilateral private international law approach to foreign judgments. In US law, on the other hand, increasingly widespread adoption of state legislation based on the 2005 Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act (2005 Act), which adds new case-specific grounds for refusing enforcement, suggests growing scepticism. In this essay, I explore possible reasons for these diverging trends. I begin with the most obvious explanation: the Brussels framework governs the effect of internal EU member state judgments within the EU, whereas the 2005 Act governs the effect of external foreign country judgments within the US. One would expect more mutual trust – and thus more faith in foreign judgment enforcement – internally than externally. But I argue that this mutual trust explanation is only partially satisfactory. I therefore sketch out two other possible explanations. One is that the different trends in EU and US law are a result of an emphasis on ’governance values’ in EU law and an emphasis on ’rights values’ in US law. Another explanation – and perhaps the most fundamental one – is that these trends are ultimately traceable to politics.


Christopher Whytock M.S., Ph.D., J.D.
Christopher Whytock is Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine School of Law.
Article

Access_open The Role of Private International Law in Corporate Social Responsibility

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2014
Keywords CSR, conflicts of law, Kiobel, Shell
Authors Geert Van Calster Ph.D.
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution firstly reviews developments in the EU and in the United States on corporate social responsibility and conflict of laws. It concludes with reference to some related themes, in particular on the piercing of the corporate veil and with some remarks on compliance strategy, and compliance reality, for corporations.


Geert Van Calster Ph.D.
Geert van Calster is professor at the University of Leuven and Head of Leuven Law's department of European and international law.

    The Versailles Treaty (Art. 227) called for the prosecution of Wilhelm II, the German ex-Kaiser. Because of the refusal of the Dutch Government to surrender Wilhelm, a trial never took place. This paper tries to elaborate some questions concerning this possible trial. What was the background of the said Treaty paragraph? What would have happened when Wilhelm had been surrendered? Based on a report of a special committee to the peace conference, the possible indictment is discussed. The authors try to elaborate some thoughts for answering the question about Wilhelm’s criminal responsibility, especially as author of the war (‘ius ad bellum’) by starting an aggressive war and/or by violating the neutrality of Belgium and Luxemburg. Wilhelm’s possible responsibility for violations of the ‘ius in bello’ (laws and customs of war) in Belgium, France, and Poland and/or by ordering an unlimited submarine war is discussed as well. It is concluded that it would have been very difficult for the tribunal to have Wilhelm find criminal responsible for the indictment, except for the violation of the neutrality of Belgium and Luxemburg. But then, the tribunal would have been obliged to answer fundamental questions about the command responsibility of Wilhelm. From a point of view of international criminal law, it is rather unfortunate that the unique opportunity for a ‘Prologue to Nuremberg’ was not realised, although a trial would not have made history take a different turn than it did in the twentieth century after the ‘Great War’.


Paul Mevis
P.A.M. Mevis is professor of criminal law at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Prof. Mevis wrote before ‘De berechting van Wilhelm II’, in J. Dohmen, T. Draaisma & E. Stamhuis (ed.), Een kwestie van grensoverschrijding. Liber amicorum P.E.L. Janssen (2009), at 197-231.

Jan M. Reijntjes
J.M. Reijntjes is professor of (international) criminal law at the University of Curaçao.
Article

Access_open Unexpected Circumstances arising from World War I and its Aftermath: ‘Open’ versus ‘Closed’ Legal Systems

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2014
Keywords First World War, law of obligations, unforeseen circumstances, force majeure, frustration of contracts
Authors Janwillem Oosterhuis Ph.D.
AbstractAuthor's information

    European jurisdictions can be distinguished in ‘open’ and ‘closed’ legal systems in respect of their approach to unexpected circumstances occurring in contractual relations. In this article, it will be argued that this distinction can be related to the judiciary’s reaction in certain countries to the economic consequences of World War I. The first point to be highlighted will be the rather strict approach to unexpected circumstances in contract law that many jurisdictions had before the war – including England, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Secondly, the judicial approach in England, France, Germany, and the Netherlands to unexpected circumstances arising from the war will be briefly analysed. It will appear that all of the aforementioned jurisdictions remained ‘closed’. Subsequently, the reaction of the judiciary in these jurisdictions to the economic circumstances in the aftermath of the war, (hyper)inflation in particular, will be analysed. Germany, which experienced hyperinflation in the immediate aftermath of the war, developed an ‘open’ system, using the doctrine of the Wegfall der Geschäftsgrundlage. In the Netherlands, this experience failed to have an impact: indeed, in judicial practice the Netherlands appears to have a ‘closed’ legal system nevertheless, save for an ‘exceptional’ remedy in the new Dutch Civil Code, Article 6:258 of the Burgerlijk Wetboek (1992). In conclusion, the hypothesis is put forward that generally only in jurisdictions that have experienced exceptional economic upheaval, such as the hyperinflation in the wake of World War I, ‘exceptional’ remedies addressing unexpected circumstances can have a lasting effect on the legal system.


Janwillem Oosterhuis Ph.D.
Janwillem Oosterhuis is Assistant Professor in Methods and Foundations of Law at the Maastricht University Faculty of Law.
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