The ‘Private’ in Private International Law – 2018 Maastricht Private Law Lecture by Prof. dr. Symeon C. Symeonides

The Maastricht Private Law Lecture, hosted by the Maastricht Department of Private Law, is an annual event at which a most distinguished scholar is invited to give a lecture on a topic related to the wide field of private law. An interactive seminar with PhD-researchers will follow on the next day.

The 2018 Maastricht Private Law Lecture will be given by Prof. dr. Symeon C. Symeonides.

Symeon C. Symeonides is the Alex L. Parks Distinguished Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at Willamette University, in Oregon, USA. He has drafted three private international law codifications (for Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and Oregon), participated in drafting some EU Regulations and two international conventions, and provided legislative advice to five foreign governments. He has published 27 books and more than 120 articles, some of which have been cited by the Supreme Courts of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel. He is the recipient of six academic prizes and a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has taught at Thessaloniki, Louisiana State University, Loyola, Tulane, NYU, Paris-I, Paris-V, Louvain-la-Neuve, and The Hague Academy of International Law. He is past president of the International Association of Legal Science and the American Society of Comparative Law. He holds two degrees summa cum laude in private and public law from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, an LL.M and an S.J.D from Harvard, and three honorary doctorates.

This event is open to all the community, but registration is required. Register here free of charge.

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IACL Younger Scholars Forum (Fukuoka, 25 July 2018) – A Brief Overview

Technology and Innovation: Challenges for Traditional Legal Boundaries’ Workshop

The 20th Congress of the International Academy of Comparative Law (IACL) took place this year in Fukuoka, Japan, between 22-28 July. Apart from bringing together established comparative law scholars from different fields and jurisdictions, the Congress also hosted the first edition of the IACL Younger Scholars Forum, convened by Richard Albert(Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin), the former president of the Younger Comparativists Committee of the American Society of Comparative Law.

With this occasion, 200 young scholars around the world had the opportunity to engage in an international academic debate and discuss their research through eight different workshops. Sofia Ranchordás (Professor of European and Comparative Public Law, University of Groningen), Andras Koltay (Associate Professor of Constitutional Law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University) and I had the pleasure of organizing one of the eight workshops, titled ‘Technology and Innovation: Challenges for Traditional Legal Boundaries’. The workshop covered discussions on 23 papers, which we grouped around 6 different themes: Privacy and Data Protection; Media Law and Free Speech; Challenges in Intellectual Property; Online Platforms; Business Law, Blockchain & RegTech, and AI Law. Young scholars from around the world were in attendance and their papers were commented upon by the Distinguished Provocateur-Discussant (Sofia Ranchordas), with the purpose of stimulating the consideration of new angles for their submissions.

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Summary of the conference: Main issues on consumer protection & sharing economy (UOC)

In June, I gave a presentation on “Main issues on consumer protection & sharing economy” at the 14th International Conference on Internet, Law & Politics organized by Faculty of Law & Political Science at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Here’s a summary of my presentation:

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Case C-20/17 Oberle on the EU Succession Regulation – The rise of a true European property law?

On 21 June 2018 the CJEU took its third decision after the EU Succession Regulation entered into force on 17 August 2015. The EU Succession Regulation is a revolutionary piece of EU legislation with very far reaching effect on national law. Although many authors have tried, both during the process of negotiations and after its adoption and entry into force, to limit the effects, the effects turn out to be far reaching indeed. In short, the EU Succession Regulation allows for a single legal system to apply to an entire succession estate and introduces a European certificate of succession that can serve as evidence throughout the EU of the rights and obligations arising under that succession regime, which is to be issued by a single competent authority.

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ECHR on Hidden Cameras on the Workfloor: Two Interferences with Art. 8 ECHR

(Case of Lópex Ribalda and others v.s Spain, ECtHR 09 January 2018 appl. 1874/13 and 8567/13 and Case of Antovic and Mirkovic v. Montenegro, EctHR 28 November 2017, 70838/13)

Recently the European Court of Human Right (ECtHR) decided on two separate cases of hidden cameras on the workfloor. In the first case, the University of Montenegro decided to place cameras in the classrooms, vexing several professors. The second case was about a Spanish supermarket which placed hidden cameras to prevent theft among employees. These cameras proved to be very effective, six employees where caught. However, the hidden cameras are also unlawful, according to the ECHR. In this article, these cases will be briefly discussed as well as their influence on the Dutch law.

The professors and supermarket employees: an outline of the cases

So, the first case regards the University of Montenegro. The dean of this university decided to place cameras in the classrooms, supposedly to protect the property of the university. According to the dean, there were cases of damaged property, drinking in the classrooms and even animals were taken inside the classrooms.Apparently, the professors were not amused by the camera surveillance. According to them, there is absolutely no reason for camera surveillance. After all, the classrooms are always closed outside class hours and only contained some old chairs and tables, which are bolted to the floor. Basically, according to them, it is almost impossible to damage any university property. The local data protection authority (DPA)  interfered on request of the professors. The DPA ordered the university subsequently to remove the cameras. It took the University more than a year after that order to remove the cameras. This led the professors to file for damages, which case was ultimately brought before the ECtHR. 

Apparently, not only deans lie awake at night because of stolen or damaged property. This is also a serious problem for Spanish supermarket entrepreneurs. This supermarket entrepreneur had to deal with a monthly cash deficit of up to € 25.000,-. Obviously, he suspected that his employees had something to do with that. So he decided to place hidden cameras above the checkouts. Obviously without telling his employees beforehand. The cameras proved to be very successful. Six employees were caught and fired. In the dismissal proceedings, the employees argued that their privacy was infringed because of the hidden cameras. Spanish data protection law requires subjects to be always informed of the processing of personal data beforehand. As the supermarket entrepreneur did not inform his employees beforehand, he acted against the law. The Spanish courts, however, agreed that the entrepreneur acted against the law by not informing his employees beforehand, but as the entrepreneur faced serious theft in his company, he was allowed to do so. So, the dismissal held before the Spanish court. The employees, therefore, went to the ECtHR to collect damages.

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The Land Portal Foundation Partners Up with Maastricht University for Student Research Project on Land Governance

Press release

Research education is one of Maastricht University’s CORE values: to take the university social responsibility seriously by linking the university to society, from the local to the global level, and to do so by creating open access knowledge which can further strengthen connections with society. One of the educational projects in the current academic year that aims to meet these goals is the collaboration between the Faculty of Law’s Skills: Introduction to Comparative Law course and the Land Portal Foundation. After establishing the platform in 2009 as a partnership project dedicated to supporting the efforts of the rural poor to gain equitable access to land by addressing the fragmentation of information resources on land, the Land Portal eventually became an independent non-for-profit organization, based in the Netherlands in 2014. Through a variety of initiatives and partnerships, the Land Portal works to create a better information ecosystem for land governance through a platform based on cutting-edge open data technologies. According to professor Leon Verstappen (University of Groningen), the chairman and founder of the Foundation:

‘The Land Portal is world leading in providing access to information and data on land issues. We adhere to linked open data principles. We dig deep into countries to find and open up information on land.’

The Foundation has recently received a new £1.3 million subsidy from the Department for International Development of the British Government.

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