Innovating Private Law: On Law and Technology (Pavia, 8 February)

On 8 February I had the pleasure to accompany Jan Smits for a visit to Pavia, where we gave a presentation titled ‘Innovating Private Law: On Law and Technology’, on the third day of the Innovating Legal Studies and Practice Winter School 2017.

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Snapshot: 11th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies (CELS)

Computer courts are not science fiction. Intuitively, an important limitation of computer adjudicators is that the procedure becomes impersonal. Consequently, users may prefer human adjudicators over software adjudication. The research of Ayelet Sela suggests otherwise. She tested whether litigants preferred a human mediator over a software mediator. Using an electronic environment that was developed to analyze online dispute resolution, she found that the software mediator was preferred to the human mediator, and not the other way around. Individuals even felt they could express their views better when using an interface. The paper was presented at the Conference of Empirical Legal Studies, which was held on 18/19 November 2016 at Duke University. Click here for the paper.

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Make the Code Civil great again: M-EPLI Talk with Dr. Matthias Martin – “R.I.P. Cause (1804-2016): A Paradigmatic Shift in the French Law of Obligations”

By William Bull and Tara Benjamin (European Law School Bachelor student)

 

On 9th November 2016, M-EPLI had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Matthias Martin from the Université de Bretagne Sud, who delivered a talk on the recent reforms of the French civil code, and in particular, the ‘death’ of cause in French contract law.

With its proud historical origins rooted in the era of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Code Civil stands apart from other civil law systems insofar as the law of obligations it embodies has not been the object of any fundamental reforms in the last 200 years. For this reason, the recent reform of the Code Civil (Ordinance 2016-131, February 10 2016) is widely viewed not only as a substantive change but also a symbolic shift in French private law. Although, according to Dr. Martin, the reform does not constitute a full-blown revolution; rather it should be understood as ‘just a revolt.’

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Caroline Cauffman at the European Consumer Summit 2016

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This year’s Summit is entirely dedicated to the fitness check of EU consumer and marketing law in the framework of Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT). ‘Fitness Check’ is a comprehensive policy evaluation aimed at assessing whether the regulatory framework for a particular policy sector is ‘fit for purpose’.

Consumer policy represents one of the most significate achievements of EU single market and makes a tangible difference in the lives of the European citizens. EU consumer and marketing law guarantees a high level of consumer protection and facilitates cross-border trade in goods and services.

The Fitness Check’s objective is to evaluate the functioning of the existing rules and to identify the needs for modernisation, so that EU citizens continue to benefit of a high level of consumer protection and at the same time economic operators, especially SMEs have a clear and fair level-playing field.

During the Summit, we will discuss in particular issues around consumer information requirements, the fairness of commercial practices and of contractual terms and ways to enhance the effectiveness of the injunction procedure. Representatives of national authorities, European institutions, consumer organisations, businesses as well as academics will be invited to contribute to the discussions, which will feed into the Commission’s examination. A number of prominent speakers have already confirmed participation.

Over the years, the European Consumer Summit has become a valuable occasion to increase awareness concerning consumer policy and a key tool to mainstream consumer interests in key EU policies.

European Commission
Directorate General for Justice & Consumers

The European Consumer Summit 2016 highlighted the need for better enforcement of the EU consumer protection rules. The results of the workshop that aimed at formulating concrete proposals for enhancing the effectiveness of the injunctions procedure were presented by our own Caroline Cauffman: https://webcast.ec.europa.eu/european-consumer-summit# (as of 16:13).

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‘The Prism Effect’ of European Jurisdictions (Al. I. Cuza University, Iasi, Romania, 21 October 2016)

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On 21 October 2016, the Robertianum Private Law Center at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University (Iasi, Romania) will be holding its national conference on ‘The Prism Effect’ of European Jurisdictions. The theme of the conference reflects the role of the European judge in the interpretation of the law, as well as the different methodologies applied by the European judge in the process.

Mihai Sandru and Catalina Goanta will present, also on behalf of their collaborator Dragos Calin, a preliminary research framework for the study of unfair contract terms in Romanian law. This project builds on the existing expertise of the Romanian Association of Law and European Affairs together with the Judge Forum Association Romania as well as The Center for European Law Studies of the Romanian Academy. Within the ambit of this collaboration, a lot of effort has already been dedicated to the mapping of preliminary questions sent by Romanian national judges to the Court of Justice (here you can find an overview of these questions – Romanian only).

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Alternative Approaches to Legal Convergence: A Round Table

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The European Union endorses a harmonisation policy that is deemed to result in legal convergence. Whether in the field of European consumer protection or beyond, the European legislator claims that legal fragmentation and diversity are not conducive to the strengthening of the internal market. Over the course of the last 30 years this has led to a long list of directives of in which varying harmonisation measures are proposed, ranging from minimum harmonisation to ‘targeted full harmonisation’ with the directives on Unfair Commercial Practices and Consumer Rights. Also the proposals of December 2015 on conformity and contractual remedies in distance sales contracts and in contracts for the supply of digital contents aim for maximum harmonisation.

Despite the long history of European harmonisation in the area of private law, it is striking to see that so far very little work is done on the extent to which harmonisation measures actually lead to more convergence among the member states’ national laws. Empirical and quantitative analysis of the extent of convergence is largely missing in the current academic and policy-oriented debate.

This MEPLI-HiiL Round Table conference takes up this challenge. The question central to the conference is how European harmonisation influences the convergence of laws and how current methods of harmonisation must therefore be assessed. To this end, four main approaches to the understanding of legal convergence will be explored: doctrinal, self-regulatory, numerical and empirical.

Participants: Bram Akkermans, Anna Beckers, Caroline Cauffman, Gijs van Dijck, Catalina Goanta, Mark Kawakami, Hans Schulte-Nölke, Mathias Siems, Jan Smits

 

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