M-EPLI Talk with Dr. Sofia Ranchordás: “Online Reputation and Information Asymmetries”

By Dr. William Bull and Doris Beganovic (ELS Bachelor student)

 

On the 25th of October 2017, Maastricht European Private Law Institute had the honour of welcoming Dr. Sofia Ranchordás, professor at both Leiden and Groningen Law School, to give a talk about Online Reputation and Information Asymmetries, with an emphasis on providing a critical account of reputational feedback in the platform economy.

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The Volkswagen Emissions Scandal: Will it become a matter of European contract law?

By Dr. Anna Beckers

 

In the past two years, I have worked on the legal consequences of the Volkswagen scandal. I have focused here and here primarily on whether the corporate social responsibility policy of Volkswagen, in which the company has outlined its commitment to environmental protection, can have legal consequences under EU private law. To that end, I predicted that the EU unfair commercial practices directive has the potential to remedy the detrimental consequences for consumers. Ella Rosenberg has argued on the MEPLI blog in a similar direction.

In the meantime, much has happened in the context of the Volkswagen consumer litigation that has made me revisit this prediction. It seems that the focus on false advertisement law has materialised in the United States. This February, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission reached a far-reaching settlement in favour of consumers. The company has to fully compensate misled consumers through a combination of repair, monetary compensation and buy-backs. But, in the Member States of the EU, the experience with the use of unfair commercial practices law appears to have been mixed. The Italian competition authority fined Volkswagen for unfair commercial practices after an emissions test had been conducted by the consumer organisation Altroconsumo, but this remains the only successful action in the EU so far (according to the European Consumer Organisation BEUC).  And even in Italy, the consequence was a fine for the company without the added effect that consumers have their losses compensated or receive confiscated profits (this is subject to separate proceedings).

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10 Years After Romania’s Accesion to the EU: European Contract Law (Doctrinal and Empirical Observations)


The Maastricht European Private Law Institute and the Legal Research Institute of the Romanian Academy (Centre for the Study of European Law – CSDE) are organising a conference on current issues of European contract law. 2017 marks a decade after Romania’s accession to the European Union, which is a meaningful moment for legal researchers to evaluate various aspects in different sub-areas of private law with respect to the development of the Romanian legal system as a legal system of the European Union.

The conference will include both doctrinal and empirical observations on European contract law. At the same time, the conference will serve as a dissemination platform for the first empirical study on the application of European law by Romanian national judges.

The event will also honour Prof. Nicolae Turcu, the former president of the Romanian Legislative Council’s Civil Law Section, who passed away earlier this year, to the grief of both legal academia and practice.

The full programme of the event can be found here (in Romanian/English).

Registration requests can be sent to ardae2007@gmail.com until 20 October 2017.

The conference is free of charge.

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Reservations over the Netherlands Commercial Court

By Professor Bas van Zelst

 

On 18 July 2017 the Government submitted a proposal for the establishment of the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC). In brief, the proposal provides for the establishment of a court (and appellate court) before which parties can litigate in the English language. According to the proposal, the NCC will give the Dutch economy an impulse. The NCC provides Dutch parties with access to an affordable, English judicial system of high quality, which in turn is beneficial to the Dutch service sector (from counsel to hotels and from translation agencies to couriers).

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German Amtsgericht on the duty to rescue

By Dr. Lotte Meurkens

 

A decision of the German Amtsgericht Essen-Borbeck, which as a court of first instance deals with both criminal and civil cases, recently became world news. For example NOSBBC Newsder Spiegel Online, and the New York Times all reported about it. It became apparent to me after telephoning the court that the judgment has not been published yet, meaning that my writing will be based on these news items, and that it concerns a criminal case. The latter is important as news on court decisions (including terms such as ‘prosecutor’ and ‘fine’) should be interpreted with care especially when the court in question also has civil jurisdiction. Moreover, given the legal topic in this case (liability for omissions, i.e. liability that is not based on an act but on a failure to act, and duty to rescue), it could very well have been a civil case.

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Consumers on Fyre: Influencer Marketing and Recent Reactions of the United States Federal Trade Commission

 

*Content re-posted from the Stanford-Vienna Transatlantic Technology Law Forum  – Transatlantic Antitrust and IPR Developments, Bimonthly Newsletter, Issue No. 3/2017 (June 12, 2017)

 

Social Media Disruptions

Silicon Valley continues to change our world. Technology-driven innovations that are disseminated with the help of the Internet have met with great success. This success translates into heaps of followers, as one can see in the case of platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. However, it is the followers themselves who continually affect the purposes of these platforms. A good example in this sense is Youtube; what started out as an alternative channel for the sharing of low-resolution home videos soon became a place where users could actually create their own content professionally. If well-received, this content leads to real Internet phenomena, and eventually become monetized, via direct or indirect advertising. Individuals around the world now have access to their own TV-stations where they can attract funders and actually make a good living out of running their channels.

Online content creation raises issues that are similar to those in the sharing economy (e.g. Uber, Airbnb, etc.). On the one hand, online platforms connect individual content providers with viewers, in the same peer-to-peer fashion that AirBnB connects an apartment owner and a tourist. Given the service-orientation of both activities, provided they are monetized, a clear issue emerges: when does an individual stop being a peer? In other words, what does it mean to be a consumer in this environment? Relatedly, what legal standards apply to the process of creating such content?

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