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Article

e-Court – Dutch Alternative Online Resolution of Debt Collection Claims

A Violation of the Law or Blessing in Disguise?

Journal International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Issue 1 2019
Keywords fair trial, money claims, judiciary, ECHR, arbitration
Authors Willemien Netjes and Arno R. Lodder
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2017, the Dutch alternative dispute resolution (ADR) initiative e-Court handled 20,000 debt collection claims via an online arbitration procedure, and this number was expected to double in 2018. In September of that same year, the Chairman for the Council of the Judiciary, Frits Bakker, argued on the Day for the Judiciary that in the future most lawsuits can be handled automatically and that a robot judge could work fast, efficiently and cheaply. However, in January 2018, Frits Bakker seemed to have changed his mind and criticized e-Court for its lack of impartiality, lack of transparency, unlawfully denying people the right to a state Court, and for being a ‘robot judge’. Ultimately, all criticism boiled down to one issue: that the defendant’s right to a fair trial was not sufficiently protected in e-Court’s procedure. This accusation led to a huge media outcry, and as a result Courts were no longer willing to grant an exequatur to e-Court’s arbitral awards until the Supreme Court had given its approval. This forced e-Court to temporarily halt its services. Questions such as ‘is arbitration desirable in the case of bulk debt collection procedures?’ and ‘are arbitration agreements in standard terms of consumer contracts desirable?’ are relevant and important, but inherently political. In this article, we argue that the conclusion of the judiciary and media that e-Court’s procedure is in breach of the right to a fair trial is not substantiated by convincing legal arguments. Our aim is not to evaluate whether online arbitration is the best solution to the debt collection claim congestion of Courts in the Netherlands, but instead to assess e-Court’s procedure in the light of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The conclusion is that e-Court’s procedure sufficiently guarantees the right to a fair trial and thus that the criticism expressed was of a political rather than legal nature.


Willemien Netjes
Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Arno R. Lodder
Article

Digital Identity for Refugees and Disenfranchised Populations

The ‘Invisibles’ and Standards for Sovereign Identity

Journal International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Issue 1 2019
Keywords digital identity, sovereign identity, standards, online dispute resolution, refugees, access to justice
Authors Daniel Rainey, Scott Cooper, Donald Rawlins e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    This white paper reviews the history of identity problems for refugees and disenfranchised persons, assesses the current state of digital identity programmes based in nation-states, offers examples of non-state digital ID programmes that can be models to create strong standards for digital ID programmes, and presents a call to action for organizations like International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).


Daniel Rainey
Daniel Rainey is a Board Member, InternetBar.Org (IBO), and Board Member, International Council for Online Dispute Resolution (ICODR)

Scott Cooper
Scott Cooper is a Vice President, American National Standards Institute (retired).

Donald Rawlins
Donald Rawlins is a Candidate (May 2019), Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution, Southern Methodist University.

Kristina Yasuda
Kristina Yasuda is a Director of Digital Identities for the InternetBar.org and a consultant with Accenture Strategy advising large Japanese corporations on their digital identity and blockchain strategy.

Tey Al-Rjula
Tey Al-Rjula is CEO and Founder of Tykn.tech.

Manreet Nijjar
Manreet Nijjar is CEO and Co-founder of truu.id, Member of the Royal College Of Physicians (UK), IEEE Blockchain Healthcare Subcommittee on Digital Identity, UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain and Sovrin Guardianship task force committee.
Discussion

Access_open Europe Kidnapped

Spanish Voices on Citizenship and Exile

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2019
Keywords migration, exile, citizenship, Europe, Spanish civil war
Authors Massimo La Torre
AbstractAuthor's information

    Exile and migration are once more central issues in the contemporary European predicament. This short article intends to discuss these questions elaborating on the ideas of two Spanish authors, a novelist, Max Aub, and a philosopher, María Zambrano, both marked by the tragic events of civil war and forced expatriation. Exile and migration in their existential perspective are meant as a prologue to the vindication of citizenship.


Massimo La Torre
Massimo La Torre is Professor of Legal Philosophy, Magna Græcia University of Catanzaro (Italy).
Article

Split Offer and Homogeneous Response in Belgium

The Conceptual and Empirical Limitations of (De)Nationalization

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2019
Keywords (de-)nationalization, voting behaviour, party offer, voter response, methodological nationalism
Authors Luana Russo, Kris Deschouwer and Tom Verthé
AbstractAuthor's information

    By examining the Belgian case, this article aims to show that methodological nationalism is strongly present in the literature on nationalization of party offer and voting behaviour. In nationalization studies, Belgium is often presented as a typical example of a denationalized country. This is true for the party offer, as it is de facto split between the two language groups since the 1980s, and therefore also voter response at the national level. However, voter response within each separate subnational party system is very homogeneous and shows interesting differences between these party systems that inform us about important electoral dynamics. We argue, on the basis of our results, that rather than stretching the concept of nationalization, it is preferable and justified to treat the concepts of nationalization of the party offer and homogenization of voter response as analytically distinct and not as two sides of the same coin.


Luana Russo
Luana Russo, Maastricht University.

Kris Deschouwer
Kris Deschouwer, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Tom Verthé
Tom Verthé, Ghent University & Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Article

Access_open What Is Left of the Radical Right?

The Economic Agenda of the Dutch Freedom Party 2006-2017

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2019
Keywords radical right-wing populist parties, economic policies, welfare chauvinism, populism, deserving poor
Authors Simon Otjes
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article examines the economic agenda of the Dutch Freedom Party. It finds that this party mixes left-wing and right-wing policy positions. This inconsistency can be understood through the group-based account of Ennser-Jedenastik (2016), which proposes that the welfare state agenda of radical right-wing populist parties can be understood in terms of populism, nativism and authoritarianism. Each of these elements is linked to a particular economic policy: economic nativism, which sees the economic interest of natives and foreigners as opposed; economic populism, which seeks to limit economic privileges for the elite; and economic authoritarianism, which sees the interests of deserving and undeserving poor as opposed. By using these different oppositions, radical right-wing populist parties can reconcile left-wing and right-wing positions.


Simon Otjes
Assistant professor of political science at Leiden University and researcher at the Documentation Centre Dutch Political Parties of Groningen University.
Law Review

2019/1 EELC’s review of the year 2018

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2019
Authors Ruben Houweling, Catherine Barnard, Filip Dorssemont e.a.
Abstract

    For the second time, various of our academic board analysed employment law cases from last year. However, first, we start with some general remarks.


Ruben Houweling

Catherine Barnard

Filip Dorssemont

Jean-Philippe Lhernould

Francesca Maffei

Niklas Bruun

Anthony Kerr

Jan-Pieter Vos

Luca Ratti

Daiva Petrylaite

Andrej Poruban

Stein Evju
Article

Constitutional Resilience and Unamendability

Amendment Powers as Mechanisms of Constitutional Resilience

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords constitutional change, constitutional resilience, unamendability, constitutional identity
Authors Xenophon Contiades and Alkmene Fotiadou
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article aims to explore the relationship between unamendability and constitutional resilience. Inspired by Roznai’s theory on the limits of amendment powers, this article seeks to examine how such limits may function as a mechanism of constitutional resilience exploring how unamendability may impact the resilience of a constitution, allowing it to withstand crises while retaining its core functions. The key question is whether entrenchment enhances resilience through its protective shield or, by contrast, fetters resilience by foreclosing adaptability – what does not bend often breaks. The complex relationship between unamendability and constitutional resilience unfolds in the context of different amendment patterns.


Xenophon Contiades
Xenophon Contiades is Professor of Public Law, Panteion University; Managing Director of the Centre for European Constitutional Law, Athens, Greece.

Alkmene Fotiadou
Alkmene Fotiadou is Research Fellow, Centre for European Constitutional Law.
Article

The Eternity Clause

Lessons from the Czech Example

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords eternity clause, constitutional amendment, Czech Republic
Authors Ondřej Preuss
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article presents lessons from the Czech example of the so-called Eternity Clause’ i.e. a legal standard declaring certain principles, values or specific constitutional provisions to be unalterable and irrevocable. The Eternity Clause is viewed and applied in the Czech Republic as a substantive legal ‘instrument’ that enables society to preserve its values. It is used to limit practical ‘power’ and to maintain desired values and the political system.
    That the Eternity clause is a practical instrument has already been proved by the Czech Constitutional Court in its famous ‘Melcák’ decision. However, recent developments show that the Czech Constitutional Court is no longer open to such a ‘radical’ approach. Nonetheless, it still seems that the court is prepared to defend the values of liberal democracy, just not in such a spectacular way. It is, therefore, more up to the political actors or the people themselves to use Eternity Clause arguments to protect liberal democracy and its values.


Ondřej Preuss
Faculty of Law, Charles University (preuss@prf.cuni.cz). This article was written under the “Progress 04: Law in a Transforming World” programme.
Article

Unamendability and Constitutional Identity in the Italian Constitutional Experience

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords Unamendability, constitutional identity, republic, counterlimits, European integration, Italy
Authors Pietro Faraguna
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article explores the historical roots of the explicit unamendable clause(s) in the Italian Constitution. Following, it explores the scholarly debate over the interpretation of unamendable provisions. The article investigates theories of implicit unamendability of the Italian Constitution, and, in particular, it analyses the crucial role played by the Constitutional Court of Italy (ICC) and the principles that characterize Italian constitutional identity. Furthermore, the article explores the other side of constitutional identity, namely the theory of ‘counterlimits.’ The ICC specified that constitutional identity not only sets a limit to constitutional amendment powers but also sets ‘counterlimits’ to the entry of external norms (i.e., supranational and international law) in the domestic legal system. Finally, the article draws some conclusions and argues that the two sides of constitutional identity, although legally and logically independent, mutually reinforce each other and, ultimately, reinforce the counter-majoritarian nature of unamendability.


Pietro Faraguna
Pietro Faraguna is Assistant professor of constitutional law, University of Trieste.
Article

Constitutional Narcissism on the Couch of Psychoanalysis

Constitutional Unamendability in Portugal and Spain

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords unamendable/ eternity clauses, de jure and de facto constitutional change, constitutional narcissism, foundational design, helicopter founding fathers, constitutional alma mater
Authors Catarina Santos Botelho
AbstractAuthor's information

    Comparing the Portuguese Constitution, which has the longest unamendable clause in the world, with the silence of the Spanish Constitution regarding the language of eternity is indeed a fascinating exercise. Each state’s quantum of constitutional change seems to be quite different. One can wonder how two neighbouring states that share a heavy history of right-wing dictatorships and transitioned to democracy forty years ago opted for such dissimilar constitutional designs. However, appearances are often misleading, and an effort should be done to unveil this curious mismatch.
    Both legal orders suffer from what I call constitutional narcissism, which manifests itself through the urge to perpetuate the foundational constitutional moment. Unamendable clauses (Portugal) and quasi-unamendable clauses (Spain) recast one of constitutional theory’s inner paradoxes: Can the constituent power of the people be petrified in one historical constituent decision and constrain future democratic transitions? And what if a volatile contemporary majority seeks to undermine the democratic process and run against the constitutional DNA achievements of the last centuries?
    Even if the original version of the Portuguese Constitution prohibited several provisions from ever being amended, some of these provisions were indeed modified or removed in the 1989 constitutional amendment process. This occurred without major disagreement from the political organs, scholars, or the judiciary. Therefore, the vexata quaestio remains unanswered: Given their obsolescence or hindrance towards good governance, should entrenchment clauses be eliminated de jure (through a channelled constitutional amendment process, such as the double amendment procedure) or de facto (through a revolutionary process materialized outside of the constitutional framework)?


Catarina Santos Botelho
Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Constitutional Law at the Porto Faculty of Law, Universidade Católica Portuguesa. Email: cbotelho@porto.ucp.pt. I thank Paul Kahn, Nuno Garoupa, Richard Albert, Gonçalo Almeida Ribeiro, Yaniv Roznai, Ana Teresa Ribeiro, and Luís Heleno Terrinha for their very helpful comments.
Article

A View on the Future of Judicial Review of Constitutional Amendments in Turkey

An Invitation to Judicial Dialogue

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords basic structure doctrine, Constitutional Court of Turkey, constitutional identity, judicial dialogue, immunity amendment, unconstitutional constitutional amendments
Authors Ali Acar
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, I discuss and analyse the Turkish case concerning judicial review of constitutional amendments in light of a recent decision by the Constitutional Court of Turkey (CCT). In the said decision, the CCT rejected carrying out judicial review over a controversial constitutional amendment, which lifted MPs’ parliamentary immunity. This decision urges to consider its implications for the possible future cases. I refer to comparative constitutional law with the hope to shed more light on the Turkish example and grasp it comprehensively. In this respect, I illustrate the most crucial arguments developed by the Supreme Court of India (SCI), the Bundesverfassungsgericht (BVG), and the Conseil Constitutionnel (FCC) in their case law. Based on the comparative account, I draw some lessons for the CCT and invite it to get into a judicial dialogue with other supreme/constitutional courts with regard to the issue.


Ali Acar
Cankaya University Faculty of Law and visiting researcher at Osgoode Hall Law School. I thank Richard Albert, Vicente F. Benítez-Rojas, and Mehmet Turhan for their comments and critiques, which were insightful to develop the ideas in this article.
Article

Judicial Review of Constitutional Amendments in Turkey

The Question of Unamendability

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords judicial review of constitutional amendments, constitutional unamendability, judicial activism, competitive authoritarianism, abusive constitutionalism
Authors Ergun Özbudun
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article deals with the judicial review of constitutional amendments, which has been a hotly debated constitutional and political issue in Turkey, particularly with regard to the unamendable provisions of the constitution. Since its creation by the Constitution of 1961, the Turkish Constitutional Court has followed a markedly activist and tutelarist approach regarding this issue and annulled several constitutional amendments arguing that they violated the unamendable provisions of the Constitution. Recently, however, the Court adopted a self-restraining approach. This shift can be explained as part of the political regime’s drift towards competitive authoritarianism and the governing party’s (AKP) capturing almost total control over the entire judiciary.


Ergun Özbudun
Ergun Özbudun is Professor of Constitutional Law at İstanbul Şehir University. This is an enlarged and updated version of my article ‘Judicial Review of Constitutional Amendments in Turkey’, European Public Law, Vol. 15, No. 4, 2009, pp. 533-538.
Article

Access_open Constitutional Norms for All Time?

General Entrenchment Clauses in the History of European Constitutionalism

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords constitutional amendments, constitutional law, constitutional politics, constitutionalism, entrenchment clauses, eternity clauses
Authors Michael Hein
AbstractAuthor's information

    ‘General entrenchment clauses’ are constitutional provisions that make amendments to certain parts of a constitution either more difficult to achieve than ‘normal’ amendments or even impossible, i.e., legally inadmissible. This article examines the origins of these clauses during the American Revolution (1776-77), their migration to the ‘Old World’, and their dissemination and differentiation on the European continent from 1776 until the end of 2015. In particular, the article answers three questions: (1) When, and in which contexts, did general constitutional entrenchment clauses emerge? (2) How have they migrated to and disseminated in Europe? (3) Which constitutional subjects do such clauses protect, and thus, which main functions do they aim to fulfil?


Michael Hein
Adult Education Center Altenburger Land, Altenburg, Germany. Email: mail@michaelhein.de. All cited websites were visited on June 18, 2018. Unless stated otherwise, all references to constitutions in this article are taken from M. Hein, The Constitutional Entrenchment Clauses Dataset, Göttingen 2018, http://data.michaelhein.de. All translations are by the author.

Annemieke Wolthuis
Annemieke Wolthuis (PhD) is an independent researcher, trainer and mediator in the field of human rights, children’s rights and restorative justice.

Jacques Claessen
Jacques Claessen (PhD) is an Associate Professor of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure at the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology of the Faculty of Law at Maastricht University.

Gert Jan Slump
Gert Jan Slump (MA) is an independent criminologist, restorative justice consultant and social entrepreneur.

Anneke van Hoek
Anneke van Hoek (MA) is an independent criminologist.
Article

Exploring the intertwining between human rights and restorative justice in private cross-border disputes

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 1 2019
Keywords International human rights, private actors, horizontal effect, restorative justice
Authors Marta Sá Rebelo
AbstractAuthor's information

    International human rights instruments operate on the assumption that states are the focal human rights duty bearers. However, private actors can harm human rights as well. Moreover, since mechanisms at a supranational level are lacking, these instruments rely primarily on states for their enforcement. Yet states’ internal rules and courts are meant to address infringements that are confined within their borders, and are therefore often structurally unable to deal with violations having transnational impact. Restorative justice has proven to respond in depth to different kinds of wrongdoing and, although addressing the peculiarities of each case, restorative procedures can systemically prevent deviant behaviour as well. Additionally, as restorative justice relies on voluntary participation it need not operate in a specific territory. Having this broader picture in mind, the article explores whether restorative justice might be adequate for dealing with human rights infringements perpetrated by private actors that have cross-border impact.


Marta Sá Rebelo
Marta Sá Rebelo is a PhD researcher at Católica Global School of Law and a teaching assistant at Católica Lisbon School of Law, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisbon, Portugal.
Article

Transformative Welfare Reform in Consensus Democracies

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2019
Keywords consensus democracy, welfare state, social investment, transformative reform, Belgium and the Netherlands
Authors Anton Hemerijck and Kees van Kersbergen
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article takes up Lijphart’s claim that consensus democracy is a ‘kinder, gentler’ form of democracy than majoritarian democracy. We zoom in on contemporary welfare state change, particularly the shift towards social investment, and argue that the kinder, gentler hypothesis remains relevant. Consensus democracies stand out in regard to the extent to which their political institutions help to overcome the politically delicate intricacies of governing for the long term. We theorize the features that can help to solve the problem of temporal commitment in democracy through processual mechanisms and illustrate these with short case studies of the contrasting welfare state reform experiences in the Netherlands and Belgium.


Anton Hemerijck
Anton Hemerijck is Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy.

Kees van Kersbergen
Kees van Kersbergen is Professor of Comparative Politics at the Department of Political Science of Aarhus University, Denmark.
Article

Post-Legislative Scrutiny in a Non-Westminster Parliament

Opportunities, Challenges and Considerations

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords post-legislative scrutiny, parliamentary oversight, legislative process, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, French Senate, Belgian federal parliament
Authors Jonathan Murphy and Svitlana Mishura
AbstractAuthor's information

    Post-legislative scrutiny (PLS) has generated growing interest as a means both for strengthening the legislative process and for permitting parliament to more effectively integrate its legislative and oversight functions. Engagement throughout the cycle of legislative development, adoption and implementation enables parliament to assure laws are properly implemented and to rectify weaknesses either in original legislative conceptualization or in executive implementation. Carried out properly, PLS should improve governance and increase its democratic accountability. Recent attention to PLS has however focused mainly on its role and use in Westminster-type parliaments. This article explores PLS from the perspective of non-Westminster parliaments. It seeks to understand why PLS in non-Westminster parliaments has received comparatively less scholarly and parliamentary development practitioner attention. The article uses a case study of Ukraine to explore the context and challenges for effective PLS, a non-Westminster emerging democracy. It concludes by proposing rebalancing discussion of PLS to take better account of diverse parliamentary models and suggests approaches to supporting PLS development in parliaments where it has not previously been consistently used


Jonathan Murphy
Jonathan Murphy is Docent, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland and parliamentary development consultant.

Svitlana Mishura
Svitlana Mishura is Deputy Head of the Main Legal Department of the Administration of the Parliament of Ukraine. The authors would like to thank UNDP Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for their support to the development of this article, and Anastasia Petrova for her invaluable research assistance in collecting data on PLS in the Verkhovna Rada.
Article

Post-Legislative Scrutiny as a Form of Executive Oversight

Tools and Practices in Europe

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords scrutiny of law enforcement, ex-post impact assessment, parliamentary oversight of the executive, post-legislative scrutiny
Authors Elena Griglio
AbstractAuthor's information

    Parliaments’ engagement in post-legislative scrutiny can be considered either as an extension of the legislative function or within the framework of the oversight of the executive. This article makes use of the latter view to assess how parliaments in Europe approach post-legislative scrutiny and to which extent this function can be regarded as a form of executive oversight. Although rules and practices of parliaments in this realm are remarkably heterogeneous, the focus on some selected parliaments (Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, and the European Parliament) reveals three different conceptual categories. In the ‘basic’ approach (passive scrutinizers), parliaments limit their role solely to the assessment of the ex-post scrutiny performed by the government and external agencies. Differently, parliaments willing to engage in a more proactive approach might choose either to act on an informal basis, establishing ad hoc research/evaluation administrative units (informal scrutinizers) or to address post-legislative scrutiny in a formal and highly institutionalized manner (formal scrutinizers). As a matter of fact, the practise of parliaments often combines characters of different categories. While in all of these approaches post-legislative scrutiny shows potential for executive oversight, only the third can potentially lead to a kind of ‘hard’ oversight.


Elena Griglio
Dr Elena Griglio is a Senior Parliamentary Official, Italian Senate and Adjunct Professor, Luiss Guido Carli University.

    This article examines the hearing of children in Belgian and Dutch courts in return proceedings following an international child abduction. The analysis is based on the experience, insights and needs of both children who have experienced an abduction by one of their parents, and family judges. In this sensitive and often highly conflicted family context, hearing children in court is not self-evident. Challenges of both a judicial-institutional and communicative-relational nature can hinder the effective implementation of children’s right to be heard. This contribution seeks to answer the question of how to better support judges and children in addressing these challenges, with the aim of enabling children to fully and effectively participate in return procedures. Building on the interviews with children and judges, supplemented with findings from Belgian and Dutch case law and international literature, three key recommendations are formulated: 1) explore and evaluate opportunities for judges and children to experience support during the return procedure, for example via the figure of the guardian ad litem; 2) invest in training and opportunities for specialisation of judges with a view to strengthen their expertise in taking the best interests of the child into account; and 3) systematically pay attention to feedback to the children involved on how the final decision about their return is made – and this before, during and after the procedure.
    ---
    Dit artikel bestudeert het horen van kinderen in Belgische en Nederlandse rechtbanken in terugkeerprocedures volgend op een internationale kinderontvoering. De analyse vertrekt vanuit de beleving, ervaring, inzichten, noden en behoeften van zowel kinderen als van bevoegde familierechters. In deze gevoelige en vaak uiterst conflictueuze gezinscontext is het horen van kinderen door de rechter geen evidentie. Uitdagingen van zowel juridisch-institutionele als communicatieve-relationele aard kunnen een effectieve implementatie van het recht van kinderen om gehoord te worden in de weg staan. Dit artikel zoekt een antwoord op de vraag hoe rechters en kinderen beter kunnen worden ondersteund om deze uitdagingen aan te pakken, met als doel dat kinderen volwaardig kunnen participeren in de terugkeerprocedure. Voortbouwend op de interviews met kinderen en rechters, aangevuld met bevindingen uit Belgische en Nederlandse rechtspraak en internationale literatuur, worden drie sleutelaanbevelingen geformuleerd: 1) voorzie mogelijkheden voor rechters en kinderen om spanningsvelden weg te werken tijdens de terugkeerprocedure, bijvoorbeeld via de ondersteunende figuur van de bijzonder curator; 2) investeer in opleiding en groeiende specialisatiemogelijkheden bij rechters en 3) heb aandacht voor feedback en terugkoppeling naar de betrokken kinderen over hoe de eindbeslissing over hun terugkeer tot stand komt, en dit zowel voor, tijdens als na de procedure.


Sara Lembrechts LLM
Sara Lembrechts is researcher at University of Antwerp (Law and Development Research Group) and policy advisor at Children’s Rights Knowledge Centre (KeKi).

Marieke Putters LLM
Marieke Putters is researcher at the International Child Abduction Center (Centrum IKO).

Kim Van Hoorde
Kim Van Hoorde is Project & Prevention Manager at Child Focus.

dr. Thalia Kruger
Thalia Kruger, PhD, is Associate Professor at the University of Antwerp (Personal Rights and Property Rights Research Group) and Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town.

dr. Koen Ponnet
Koen Ponnet, PhD, is Professor at Imec-Mict-Ghent University (Faculty of Social Sciences).

dr. Wouter Vandenhole
Wouter Vandenhole, PhD, is Professor at the University of Antwerp (Law and Development Research Group).

    Alternative/amicable dispute resolution (ADR) is omnipresent these days. In line with global evolutions, the Belgian legislator embraced the use of these ADR mechanisms. Recent reforms of the law, first in 2013 with the act concerning the introduction of a Family and Juvenile Court and consecutively in 2018 with the act containing diverse provisions regarding civil law with a view to the promotion of alternative forms of conflict resolution, implemented more far-reaching measures to promote ADR than ever before. The ultimate goal seems to alter our society’s way of conflict resolution and make the court the ultimum remedium in case all other options failed.In that respect, the legislator took multiple initiatives to stimulate amicable dispute resolution. The reform of 2013 focused solely on family cases, the one in 2018 was broader and designed for all civil cases. The legal tools consist firstly of an information provision regarding ADR for the family judge’s clerk, lawyers and bailiffs. The judges can hear parties about prior initiatives they took to resolve their conflict amicably and assess whether amicable solutions can still be considered, as well as explain these types of solutions and adjourn the case for a short period to investigate the possibilities of amicable conflict resolution. A legal framework has been created for a new method, namely collaborative law and the law also regulates the link between a judicial procedure and the methods of mediation and collaborative law to facilitate the transition between these procedures. Finally, within the Family Courts, specific ‘Chambers of Amicable Settlement’ were created, which framework is investigated more closely in this article. All of these legal tools are further discussed and assessed on their strengths and weaknesses.
    ---
    Alternatieve of minnelijke conflictoplossing is alomtegenwoordig. De Belgische wetgever heeft het gebruik van deze minnelijke oplossingsmethodes omarmd, in navolging van wereldwijde evoluties. Recente wetshervormingen implementeerden maatregelen ter promotie van minnelijke conflictoplossing die verder reiken dan ooit tevoren. Het betreft vooreerst de hervorming in 2013 met de wet betreffende de invoering van een familie- en jeugdrechtbank en vervolgens kwam er in 2018 de wet houdende diverse bepalingen inzake burgerlijk recht en bepalingen met het oog op de bevordering van alternatieve vormen van geschillenoplossing. De ultieme doelstelling van deze hervormingen is een mentaliteitswijziging omtrent onze wijze van conflictoplossing teweegbrengen, waarbij de rechtbank het ultimum remedium dient te worden nadat alle overige opties faalden.De wetshervorming van 2013 focuste uitsluitend op familiale materies, de hervorming van 2018 was ruimer en had alle burgerlijke zaken voor ogen. De wettelijke mogelijkheden bestaan vooreerst uit een informatieverstrekking omtrent minnelijke conflictoplossing in hoofde van de griffier van de familierechtbank, advocaten en gerechtsdeurwaarders. Rechters kunnen partijen horen omtrent eerdere ondernomen initiatieven om hun conflict op een minnelijke manier op te lossen, zij beoordelen of minnelijke oplossingen alsnog kunnen worden overwogen, zij kunnen de diverse minnelijke mogelijkheden toelichten aan partijen alsook de zaak voor een korte periode uitstellen om partijen toe te laten de mogelijkheden aan minnelijke conflictoplossing te verkennen. Er werd voorts een wetgevend kader uitgewerkt voor een nieuwe oplossingsmethode, namelijk de collaboratieve onderhandeling. De wet creëert tevens een link tussen een gerechtelijke procedure en de methodes van bemiddeling en collaboratieve onderhandeling, om de overgang tussen deze procedures te vereenvoudigen. Tot slot werden er binnen de familierechtbanken specifieke kamers voor minnelijke schikking opgericht, waarvan het wetgevend kader in detail wordt bestudeerd in dit artikel. Al deze wettelijke opties worden nader besproken en beoordeeld aan de hand van hun sterktes en zwaktes.


Sofie Raes
Sofie Raes is a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute for Family Law of the University of Ghent, where she researches alternative dispute resolution, with a focus on the chambers of amicable settlement in Family Courts. She is also an accredited mediator in family cases.
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