Making European Union Property Law: Missed Opportunities in Property Succession-Regimes?

It has long been held that there is no fun in the law of property; a static area of – basically – Roman law, technical, dare I say boring, where nothing ever changes. Typical property law professions, Conveyancers, the Notariat and the Land Registry, do not have the most appealing image for most.

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Teaching European Integration: A Horizontal Approach

Last week I finished teaching a course on European Integration in the Maastricht European Law School Master Program. The course aimed at a horizontal comparison of integration in various fields of the law. Each week was devoted to a specific subfield, meaning that not only the area of private law was covered, but also procedural law, constitutional law, fundamental rights and criminal law. In addition, we looked at some more general issues including the history of European integration, integration efforts elsewhere in the world, and the choice of venue for law making. Teaching this course provided (hopefully) not only the students, but also (certainly) myself with sometimes surprising parallels among the various subfields. 

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Quantifying Qualitative Factors: The Increasingly Empirical Nature of Legal Scholarship

During my first official week as a PhD candidate at M-EPLI, I had the opportunity to spend the week in Rotterdam to attend Professor Jonathan Klick’s lecture regarding the increasingly empirical nature of legal scholarship. While the more traditional approach to legal research – relying on descriptive and observational analysis – will likely never go out of fashion, Professor Klick (a Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Erasmus Chair of Empirical Legal Studies at Erasmus School of Law) presented series of arguments about the value of applying regression models into legal analysis, particularly as it relates to the issue of causality (i.e. “how would promulgating a particular law impact the behaviour of the citizens?”). Majority of the lecture was spent on how empirical research can overcome limitations such as the unquantifiable variable problem and coping with bias concerns, but Professor Klick made strong arguments for empirical analysis by praising the use of highly computational analysis and the application of bias controlling measures such as propensity score matching.

Along with my colleague Catalina Goanta, who also attended this lecture, I had with me, my admitted aversion, if not fear, of trusting empirical research in legal analysis. My rebuttable assumption about the utility of empirical research in legal scholarship – especially in a field so vast and diverse as private law – has always been that one particular study about a certain group cannot be broadly applied to the general legal community as a whole. In other words, in my humble opinion, it is almost impossible for legal empirical study to rid itself of the external validity problem, unless the sample size of the research is the general legal community as a whole, which admittedly would be severely cost prohibitive.

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Extremely Modern Studies in Property Law?

On 21-23 March 2012 I attended a conference in Southampton on Modern Studies in Property Law. This is a biennial conference, and papers presented here are usually published in a volume by Hart. I had originally intended to provide you with an overview of the entire conference, as in my last blog on The Involvement of EU Law in Private Law Relationships. However, the keynote speech on the first day delivered by Simon Gardner (Professor of Law at Lincoln College, Oxford) was so exceptional that I feel it deserves special attention. The topic of his talk was ‘Advanced Electronic Conveyancing’. I had therefore expected a presentation on how developments in software make registration of property rights continuously easier and cheaper, or on the extent to which different registries have switched from manual registration to electronic registration. Indeed, he started his talk by explaining how electronic conveyancing could close the time-gap currently caused by manual registration and that more dispositions should be registrable. Soon, however, the talk took an unexpected turn.

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