News

Book New Pathways to Civil Justice is out

Our book New pathways to civil justice in Europe has just been published by Springer. It results from one of the international conferences organized by our ERC group (’Challenge accepted!’) and this one was particularly memorable. The book focuses on innovative pathways to civil justice with a view to improving access to justice. It encompasses the four key topics of the project: use of Artificial Intelligence and its interaction with judicial systems; ADR and ODR tracks in privatising justice systems; the effects of increased self-representation on access to justice; and court specialization and the establishment of commercial courts to counter the trend of vanishing court trials. Top academics and experts from Europe, the US and Canada address these topics in a critical and multidisciplinary manner, combining legal, socio-legal and empirical insights. More information and sales available at the Springer website. The Introductory chapter by the editors (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and the final chapter by Judith Resnik (Yale University) are available for free download.

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EU flag ERC logo

Book New Pathways to Civil Justice is out

Our book New pathways to civil justice in Europe has just been published by Springer. It results from one of the international conferences organized by our ERC group (’Challenge accepted!’) and this one was particularly memorable. The book focuses on innovative pathways to civil justice with a view to improving access to justice. It encompasses the four key topics of the project: use of Artificial Intelligence and its interaction with judicial systems; ADR and ODR tracks in privatising justice systems; the effects of increased self-representation on access to justice; and court specialization and the establishment of commercial courts to counter the trend of vanishing court trials. Top academics and experts from Europe, the US and Canada address these topics in a critical and multidisciplinary manner, combining legal, socio-legal and empirical insights. More information and sales available at the Springer website. The Introductory chapter by the editors (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and the final chapter by Judith Resnik (Yale University) are available for free download.

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Judicial Training in Helsinki

Xandra Kramer gave lectures and led a workshop for EU court staff on European Cross-Border Civil Procedures in Helsinki on 22 and 23 September 2021. She discussed the Brussels I-bis Regulation, the European Enforcement Order, the Order for Payment and the Small Claims procedures. This course is part of a programme on Court Staff Training in the
EU, coordinated by the European Law Academy (Trier), in which she has also been involved to prepare training materials for courses throughout the EU. In this course 23 judges and other judicial staff members from 9 different EU Member States took place. It was the first one that could take place live since the Spring of
2020.

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ELI Council Election 2021

Xandra Kramer was elected to the European Law Institute Council by the Membership at the 2021 Annual conference. Her four-year term (which may be renewed once) started on 8 September 2021. Xandra was invited to become a member of the Association that preceded the formal establishment of the ELI and has been an active member of the ELI since 2012. She was a involved in the ELI-Unidroit Model European Rules of Civil Procedure that were adopted in 2020 from the inception of the project in 2013, as a co-reporter of the overarching Structure group and reporter of the Provisional measures working group (see also our blogpost on conflictoflaws.net). In 2020, she also wrote the response to the public consultation on the European Enforcement Order Regulation on the
request of ELI, and she serves as an observer for the ELI at the Best Practices for Effective Enforcement Project of Unidroit.

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IDI Member Election 2021

Xandra Kramer was elected as a Member of the Institut de Droit International, IDI (Institute of International Law) at the bi-annual meeting in August 2021 (see also here). The IDI was founded in 1873 as an academic association that aims to improve the advancement of international law and peace. In 1904, the Insititute received the Nobel Peace Prize for improving international arbitration as a way of peaceful settlement of conflicts. The IDI has a counselling role in the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The IDI has 130 members, all prominent academics and scholars from the field of international private law or public law from across the world. Xandra has been selected based on her expertise in the area of private international law.

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Conference International Commercial Courts in Europe and Asia

The ERC team is organizing, together with BIICL and UNIL the conference Taking Stock: International Commercial Courts in Europe and Asia. The conference will take place on 17 September, in a hybrid format (London - limited places - and online). You can register via the BICCL website.

In recent years, International Commercial Courts have been established across Europe and in Asia. Now that these courts have been dealing with international cases for a while, it is time to take stock and look at various questions: the reasons behind the recent proliferation of these courts and their international features in terms of court language, judicial composition, parties and disputes; the perspectives of court users and judges on key features of these courts, their suitability for specific kinds of disputes and the handling of international commercial disputes in practice; the interface between International Commercial Courts and arbitration, in particular in jurisdictions with well-developed arbitration centres; and the ever more important question how these courts deal with global challenges such as Covid 19, Digitalisation & AI.

More information and the program available here.

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Seminar series EU Civil Justice

The ERC Building EUCivil Justice team organized a series of six seminars between May and July2021. The series covered a variety of topics in the field of European civil justice and zoom in on the key topics our group has been working on over the past four years. These include the privatization and digitalization of civil justice, cross-border judicial co-operation, international business courts, and self-representation. Each session brought together invited speakers and our own researchers. The webinars gathered between 25 to 85 participants from all over the world per session and resulted in lively and fruitful debates, despite the online format.

The first seminar, organized by Betül Kas, was dedicated to The Role of Out-of-Court Justice in the European Enforcement Regime, discussing among others the role of Article 47 TFEU and the process of obtaining remedies in the Volkswagen diesel case. During the second seminar, organised by Erlis Themeli, the discussion zoomed in on Modernising European Cross-Border Judicial Collaboration, including an ongoing digitization project of the European Commission, the Dutch participation in e-Codex and digitisation in the context of uniform European procedures. The third seminar was organised by Emma van Gelder, and was dedicated to Digital Constitutionalism and European Digital Policies and discussed remedies in the context of European policies, the role of private platforms and judicial review. The fourth seminar, organized by Jos Hoevenaars, dealt with the topic Representing Future Generations: Private Law aspects of Climate Change Litigation. Making the shift from self-representation under the ERC project to the representation of present and future generations it discussed different aspects of recent climate change litigation, with a focus on the recent Dutch Shell case. The fifth seminar by Georgia Antonopoulou was dedicated to the Arbitralization of Courts, and discussed how recently established international business courts copy features of arbitration and what the limits are. The sixth and last seminar entitled European Civil Justice in Transition: Past, Present & Future, moderated by Xandra Kramer and Alexandre Biard concluded the series. The speakers addressed the upcoming revision of the Brussels I-bis Regulation, digitisation and the development of integrated dispute resolution, trust and quality in civil justice and the future of civil justice.

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Representing Future Generations - 4th EU Civil Justice Seminar Series

The Fourth seminar of the EU Civil Justice Seminar Series took place on Thursday July 1st. The seminar focused on the private law aspects of climate litigation. Striking a bridge between his current work on (self)representation in civil justice and past work on strategic litigation and the representation of public interest through law, Jos Hoevenaars brought together a panel to discuss the most recent developments in climate change litigation.

In that context, the recent Milieudefensie/Shell decision of the district court of The Hague signifies a move in climate change litigation from targeting mainly the responsibilities of governments in curtailing the effects of climate change, like in the already famous Urgenda case, to suing corporations, and using the courts to force multinationals to adjust their practices. The panel of speakers discussed the implications the Shell decisions at the crossroads of strategic litigation, collective representation, civil tort law and human rights in climate litigation.

Chantal Mak, professor of Professor of Private law at the Amsterdam Centre for Transformative Private Law (ACT) analyzed the Shell decisions and highlighted the human rights angle of climate change litigation. Professor Geert van Calster, Head of the department of European and international law at the University of Leuven, gave an overview of the private international law aspects of climate change litigation. And finally, Sanne Biesmans, PhD candidate at the Business Law Institute of the Radboud University Nijmegen, analysed the Shell decision from a corporate liability perspective and sketched a future outlook for corporations and how this decision may affect their practices going forward.

The seminar was very well-attended, with some 65 participants joining for the subsequent discussions.

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European digital constitutionalism and remedies - 3rd EU Civil Justice Seminar Series

The third seminar of the EU Civil Justice Seminar Series took place on Friday 4th of June 2021. The Seminar touched upon the topic of European digital constitutionalism and remedies. In the past two decades, the European Union has developed a framework of European digital constitutionalism. This framework was prompted as a reaction towards the predominance of digital private norm activities which were accelerating within the EU. Within this EU framework, there are various remedies and dispute resolution mechanisms available. These remedies are not just public remedies, but also bottom-up approaches to enforcement. For example, the Facebook Oversight Board presents a form of private adjudication. The European Commission proposal for a Digital Services Act (DSA) acknowledges the need to regulate such online platforms, for instance it requires online platforms to be transparent about why they take particular decisions.

Giovanni De Gregorio, who is a postdoc at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford, kicked of the seminar with providing the introduction of the topic European digital constitutionalism. He explained how the remedies within the framework are shaped and why these remedies have been made available. He noted the shift which is experienced from digital liberalism to digital constitutionalism.

The second speaker, Catalina Goanta, who is an assistant professor at Maastricht University, touched upon the platform powers. She explained that platforms are offering much more functions than just content, such as commercial functions of social commerce. She gave the example of Instagram, through which people can buy shoes. Catalina stressed the importance of asking the question on how to answer to this increasing power of these platforms. In this regard, Catalina addressed the potential of the DSA.

The third speaker was Clara Iglesias Keller, who is a postdoc research fellow at the Leibniz Institute for Media research and at WBZ Berlin Social Sciences Centre. She touched upon the topic of judicial review and constitutionalism. She highlighted the complexity of drawing up regulation for the Internet and also raised concerns of how claims can be redressed, as she pointed out that some claims are not brought to court.

A vivid discussion followed raising numerous insights and food for future thought.

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Digitising cross-border judicial cooperation in the EU – 2nd EU Civil Justice Seminar

The second EU Civil Justice seminar took place on Friday, 21 May 2021. On Focus during this seminar were the attempts of the European Union to digitise cross-border judicial cooperation. The aim of this initiative is to reduce the hurdles for such cooperation and eliminate the need for paper. Digital technologies are mature and safe enough to exchange sensitive documents between Member States institutions. Both citizens and public institutions will benefit from the speed and low costs of these solution. Considering this perspective, the European Commission is considering different routes which the speakers of the seminar discussed. Gösta Petri from the DG Justice explained the background and some of the implications that the digitisation of EU cross-border collaboration implies. He stressed the importance of digitisation and the need to evaluate already exiting tools. The next speaker, Sandra Taal from the Ministry of Justice of the Netherlands, provided an overview of eCodex, a cross-border communication infrastructure for the exchange of documents in Europe. eCodex has proven to be a very useful and reliable tool which explains why the EU plans to invest more on it. Taal agrees with Petri about the need to integrate eCodex with any other possible solution that Commission’s consultation will produce. The third speaker, Alina Ontanu from the Erasmus University Rotterdam, provided an extensive and in-depth overview of several European attempt to digitise cross-border judicial collaboration. While these experiences have had different degrees of success, they should be considered in their entirety and better orchestrated to achieve their goal. Erlis Themeli, who served as host and moderator, used the development of the voting procedure for the Eurovision Song Contest (which was taking place in Rotterdam during that same week) to make parallels with the need for more digitisation in Europe. This was the spark that ignited the discussion about the importance of cross-border digitisation, which turned out to be both inspiring and insightful for the speakers and the audience alike.

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Out-of-court justice in the European Enforcement Landscape – 1st EU Civil Justice Seminar

On Thursday 6 May, our seminar series on ‘EU Civil Justice’ kicked off with a general introduction to the series by Xandra Kramer. The first two-hour seminar dealt with the role of out-of-court justice in the European enforcement landscape. Taking a holistic perspective, our invited speaker Fabrizio Cafaggi (Judge at the Italian Council of State, former professor at the EUI and the University of Trento) talked about the role of Article 47 EUCFR in shaping the interaction between different enforcement processes. Specifically, Cafaggi explained how Article 47 EUCFR has institutional implications for the balance between individual and collective redress and for the relationship between judicial and administrative enforcement as well as ADR. The Court of Justice of the European Union has played a key role in employing the fundamental right to an effective remedy to give shape to their complementarity. Reference points are the Court’s rulings in Cases C-73/16 - Puškár, C-317/08 - Alassini, C-75/16 - Menini and Rampanelli and C-381/14 - Sales Sinués. According to Cafaggi, the case-law shows that Article 47 generally favors choice between different processes. However, mandatory sequences that oblige to either exhaust administrative remedies or attempt ADR before accessing judicial remedies are not excluded as long as certain conditions are met. Betül Kas (post-doctoral researcher, Erasmus University Rotterdam) zoomed in on the relationship between ADR and court proceedings in collective disputes by discussing the highly contentious collective settlement in the Volkswagen litigation in Germany. Kas reconstructed the procedural and practical circumstances that lead the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband - vzbv) to settle outside the procedural scope of the German model case procedure (Musterfeststellungsklage). While this move withdrew the settlement from the safeguards installed within the procedure and any judicial oversight, it enhanced the choice of individual consumers, which could either accept Volkswagen’s settlement offer or pursue individual judicial proceedings benefitting from the suspension of the limitation period. The topic of collective settlements raises interesting questions about safeguarding Article 47 in opt-in/opt-out mechanisms and as to the degree of judicial involvement required in collective settlements. The discussion raised further interesting question of a principal nature, such as the meaning of ‘privatization’ and ‘effectiveness’ in EU civil justice.

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Presentation LSA Annual Meeting 2021

At the Annual meeting of the Law and Society Association (LSA) Jos Hoevenaars presented a paper, co-written with Betül Kas and Erlis Themeli on the impact of trends of digitalisation, increasing self-representation and privatisation of justice on the function of civil courts and the day-to-day practise of civil judges. The panel, chaired by prof. Tomohiko Maeda, brought together scholars from Japan, Chili and the Netherlands and focused on topics such as the attitudes towards the use of AI in courts AI (Shozo Ota), the relationship between income and access to justice (Myrte Hoekstra), innovative neuro-legal research into the ‘legal mind’ (Takeshi Asamizuya) and the Chilean judiciary’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic (Macarena Vargas).

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Teaching at HSE Moscow

Xandra Kramer taught a course on Global and European Civil Procedure at the HSE University in Moscow in collaboration with Georgia Antonopoulou. It adressed developments in civil procedure in Europe and at the global level and discussed rules on private international law, in particular international jurisdiction, choice of court and recognition and enforcement. One lecture dedicated to International Commercial Courts was taught by Georgia.

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Chair Law section Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

In 2019 Xandra Kramer was elected to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). As of April 2021 she also chairs the law scholars section which is part of the Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences and Law Domain, in which she also serves as a committee member. The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1808 as an advisory body to the Dutch Government and still fulfils this role of advising on subjects of science and scholarship.

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Conference: Digital and Intelligent Europe: EU Citizens and the Challenges of New Technologies

On 1 and 2 April 2020, ERC project members Erlis Themeli and Emma van Gelder co-organized the conference ‘Digital and Intelligent Europe: EU Citizens and the Challenges of New Technologies for Civil Justice’, together with Anna van Duin and Rachel Rietveld (University of Amsterdam). The two-day conference revolved around EU citizens in their search for justice in an increasingly digitized world. Digital technologies can reduce barriers to access to justice by offering more affordable, swifter and simpler solutions. Key notes were delivered by Natali Helberger and Tania Sourdin and the three panels evolved around the topics of digital and intelligent out of court procedure, digital and intelligent justice solutions for supporting the court, and digital and intelligent courts. The conference brought together academics and practitioners from around the world and resulted in vivid discussions and a lot of food for thought. We will prepare a full conference report in the upcoming days.

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US-Europe conference lecture collectivizing litigation

Xandra Kramer presented at a conference organized by Emory University Law School and Oxford University on developments in civil justice in the US and Europe, Qua Vadis civil justice? The first part of this three-part Zoom event on Trends in Civil Procedure took place on 26 March 2021. One of the statements was that European civil justice policy, contrary to the US, while also under pressure from the efficiency advocates, continues to focus on encouraging litigation. Xandra focused on collectivizing litigation in Europe and the Netherlands in particular. She discussed trends and developments in European civil justice, where in recent years collective redress and digitisation have been key issues and in the Netherlands where the establishment of the Netherlands Commercial Court in 2019 and the completion of the collective redress system in 2020 are highlights. Despite the emphasis on collective redress in recent years, there are no indications that litigation has become more important. In the European context, enhancing ADR by putting quality standards into place and the setting up the ODR platform are equally important.

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Comparative Procedure project MPI

In 2020, the Comparative Procedural Law and Justice project (CPLJ) of the Max Planck Institute on Procedural law in Luxembourg, funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund, kicked off. This is a global project in which more than one hundred scholars participate. It aims a comprehensive study of comparative civil procedural law and civil dispute resolution and to understanding the rules in their cultural context. The work is divided into different sections, including on technology, ADR and collective redress and will result in the publication of a Compendium on Comparative Civil Justice. Alexandre Biard participates in the team on collective redress. Xandra Kramer participates in the team working on special forms of procedure. On 26 February 2021, she presented the work of this group so far at one of the seminars of the CPLJ project.

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Online courts during the Covid-19 pandemic in the Netherlands: Conference presentation

On 17-18 February 2021, the Bar Ilan University Faculty of Law organised the conference Digital Governance in the Times of Covid-19. The Conference focused on changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and how many aspects of our (legal) life turned from analogue to digital. During the second day, Erlis Themeli presented in the Online Courts During Covid-19 and Beyond panel, together with Professor Schmitz (University of Missouri School of Law) and Adv. Naqui (PEW Charitable Trusts). Erlis spoke on how in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic Dutch courts went digital. He considered this event both a cure and a disease. A disease because it threatened the right to access to justice for many; but also a cure, because it showed that courts can be dynamic and use technology to improve access to justice for many. Two other panels in the conference focused on Algorithmic Regulation and Digital Policy Tools During Covid-19 and Zoom Parliaments During Covid-19 respectively. Two keynote speeches from Prof. Frank Pasquale (Brooklyn Law School) and Prof. Richard Susskind (Oxford) provided a fertile ground for discussion and interesting ideas for further research.

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Georgia and Erlis invited to lecture at the Private Law Master programme

On 10 February 2021, Georgia and Erlis were invited as guest lectures at the Private Law Master programme of the Erasmus School of Law. This was a special master class where students follow advanced level lectures from experts in the field. They were asked to lecture about international commercial courts, which is a topic of growing importance. Georgia and Erlis consider that the competition of civil justice systems and dispute resolution methods incites international commercial courts to market their features in order to raise awareness on their recent establishment and attract disputes. This development raises many questions about the development of these courts in particular and public litigation in general. Before the lecture, students were asked to reflect on this topic and discuss with Georgia and Erlis. The class was successful in drawing up the complex nature and activities of international commercial courts, but it also produced food for thoughts for both students and lecturers.

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The Netherlands as the market for mass litigation?

On 5 February 2021, Xandra Kramer participated in the online seminar ‘The Netherlands: a forum conveniens for collective redress?’, jointly organized by Maastricht University, Tilburg University, the Univerisity of Amsterdam, in collaboration with the Open University. The seminar was dedicated to the interantionational attractiveness of the Dutch courts and Dutch remedies, the interaction between EU law and Dutch collective actions and the market for mass litigation. Together with Alexander Layton, QC, she discussed in how far the position of The Netherlands is reinforced in a fragmented international legal landscape, also resulting from Brexit.

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Evaluation European Enforcement Order

The European Order for Payment Regulation became applicable in 2005 and aims to smoothen cross-border enforcement of debts. After the partial abolition of exequatur in the enforcement rules on parental responsibility in the Brussels II-bis Regulation, it was the first broad instrument to abolish intermediate proceedings for enforcement in civil and commercial matters as far is it concerns an uncontested claim. For that purpose it introduces a number of minimum norms of civil procedure, in particular on the service of documents and information. This instrument was followed by a number of other instruments, including the European order for payment procedure, the Small Claims procedure and the Account preservation order, that advanced the harmonisation of civil procedure and the abolition of exequatur. With the Brussels I-bis Regulation becoming applicable in 2015, the abolition of exequatur with the aim to simplify cross-border enforcement reached its momentum.

Fifteen years after the European Enforcement Order Regulation became applicable it was high time that the Regulation be evaluated. Xandra Kramer acted as national reporter for the Netherlands. In addition, she wrote a response to the public consultation on the request of the European Law Institute (here) and participated to an opinion of the EAPIL (here).

Apart from evaluating the overall functioning in the Member States, the question is also whether it is still a useful instrument considering the enactment of new instruments and the abolition of exequatur under Brussels I-bis. While it is still used in the Netherlands and part of the other Member States, the undesired multiplicity and incoherence of instruments in the area of European civil procedure coupled with the inherent complexity of the present Regulation cast doubt. While it has served its purpose in enhancing access to justice its value in the present European civil justice system is very limited.

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Legal training EU judges

Xandra Kramer gave a lecture and led a workhop on the Cross-border enforcement of debts for EU judges on 29 January 2021. This was part of a programme on Court Staff Training in the EU, coordinated by the European Law Academy (Trier) and in collaboration with the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN), for which she prepared course materials that are used across the EU. The present training was part of a 4 days training on European Cross-border civil procedures and legal English for Court Staff. While many of the trainings within this programme, planned for 2020, had been postponed, this training which should have taken place in Brussels moved online.

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Mini webinar International Commercial Courts and Jurisdiction

On 8 January 2021 we hosted a mini webinar on International Commercial Courts and Jurisdiction, as part of our ERC Building EU Civil Justice project.

In recent years international commercial courts have been established in a significantnumber of countries in Europe and across the world. An important aspect in attracting international commercial cases is how international jurisdiction rules are framed. ERC project member Georgia Antonopoulou is writing her PhD research on international commercial courts and presented on how a wide casting of the jurisdictional net influences the caseload of international commercial courts. Discussant was Caroline Lasthaus, PhD candidate at Bucerius Law School, Hamburg, who also conducts research on international commercial courts.

The presentations were very interesting and appreciated by the around 45 participants in the webinar and led to fruitful discussions.

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Launch EE Companion to the Hague Conference

The launch of the Elgar Companion to the Hague Conference on Private International Law took place on 15 December 2020. The book, edited by Thomas John, Rishi Gulati and Ben Köhler, was launched by Christophe Bernasconi, Secretary General of the HCCH, and was followed by a conversation and Q&A on a key
theme that emerged in the Companion: the importance of private international law to providing access to justice. Xandra Kramer kicked off by stressing the importance of the various instruments of the Hague Conference for increasing access to justice at the global level and the crucial rule digitisation plays in enhancing judicial cooperation. Her talk was followed by a practical perspective by Justin Gleeson SC (Barrister and Arbitrator, Banco Chambers, Sydney). The conversation was kindly led by Matthew Neuhaus, Australian ambassor to the Netherlands.

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Presentation Creation ELI-Unidroit Model rules

Xandra Kramer participated in a webinar within the Civil Procedure Series organized by IE Law School, Madrid. The series focuses on the ELI-Unidroit Model European Rules of Civil Procedure. Xandra discussed the creation, general principles and future of the Model Rules, Emmanuel Jeuland focused on language and translation issues and Fernando Gascon on comparative aspects of the project. The webinar was hosted by Marco de Benito.

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Successful Conference Frontiers in Civil Justice

The Conference Frontiers in Civil Justice organized by our ERC team on 16-17 November 2020 was a success and - despite having to move online - it was a very lively event. Impressive keynotes were given by speeches by Hazel Genn (UCL) and Hrvoje Grubisic (European Commission). Four great panels with high level, insightful and thought-provoking presentations.

Of course we had hoped to welcome our speakers and adience in Rotterdam or at least have a blended event, but it worked out very well online. Close to 200 people from all over the world had registered, some of whom accompanied us throughout the event; many others picking and choosing the panels and talks they were most interested in. The parallel chat discussions were extensive and very lively, and our chairs supported by chat moderators from our team managed to highlight the key issues that were discussed further in the panel and with ‘live’ questions from the audience.

We are grateful to all the speakers, chairs, tech support and the organizing team (Betül Kas and Ilja Tillema). We are also proud of accomplishing this despite having to work under more challenging circumstances in these strange times, as everyone around the globe.

A brief discussion of the conference presentations has been prepared by Jos and Betül and is available at conflictoflaws.net.

Stay safe and healthy!

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Conference: Frontiers in Civil Justice

16 and 17 November 2020 at Erasmus University Rotterdam

Civil justice remains in constant flux. The design of a sustainable civil justice system for the 21st century is continuously discussed both at national and international level. Particularly at international level, several soft law instruments have been adopted in recent years such as the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the ELI/UNIDROIT Model European Rules of Civil Procedure and the ELI statement on the relationship between formal and informal justice.

The conference addresses four key issues in civil justice, which require a deeper and renewed reflection in light of their contribution of facilitating access to justice. Those trends concern the shaping of the interaction between formal and informal justice, the digitalization of consumer dispute resolution, the collectivizing and monetizing of civil litigation and efforts of bringing justice closer to citizens. The conference will bring together academics, policymakers, practitioners and representatives of civil society to critically reflect on the opportunities and possible drawbacks ensuing from these paramount developments.

You can find the program and register here!

This conference is organised by Erasmus School of Law at Rotterdam University under the ERC project ‘Building EU Civil Justice’ (www.euciviljustice.eu).

The conference was set up as a blended event, with speakers at the site and some presenting online, but will be fully online in view of the Covid-19 developments.
For more information, do not hesitate to contact us at kas@law.eur.nl (Betül).

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Webinar ELI-Unidroit Model European Rules of Civil Procedure

On 6 November 2020, the ERC group organized a small scale webinar on the occasion of adoption of the ELI-Unidroit Model Rules and the upcoming kick-off of the Vici project related to our ERC project on Affordable Access to Justice: The ELI-Unidroit Model European Rules of Civil Procedure: soft law shaping the future of European Civil Procedure?

Xandra Kramer presented on the creation, main principles and future prospects of the Model Rules. Eva Storskrubb (University of Uppsala) discussed the Cost rules, in the drafting of which she was closely involved being one of the co-reporters. Masood Ahmed (University of Leicester) viewed the rules on cost, management and ADR from the English perspective. Despite the small set up and short notice, over 60 people participated in the webinar and the discussion.

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Presentation on European procedures at ERA Conference

At an online conference on European civil procedure organized by the European Law Academy in Trier on 26 October 2020, Xandra Kramer presented on on ‘European civil procedure 4.0? The European Account Preservation Order & Payment Order at the Court of Justice’. She showed that considering the case law and legal practice these European procedures still operate in the shadow of the Brussels I-bis Regulation and national civil procedure. Discussing the first case of the European Court of Justice on the European Account Preservation Order and case law on the European Payment Order it is clear that the Court maneouvers it’s way into the national intricasies when implementing the European regulations on civil procedure.

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Studium Generale Interview on Affordabe Justice

Xandra Kramer was interviewed by Geert Maarse at Talkshow Studio Erasmus on 20 October 2020. She was asked to participate on the ocassion of obtaining a Vici grant from the Dutch Research Council. The interview was about the costs litigation and the importance of keeping access to justice affordable. The interview was held in Dutch and is available here.

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Presentation on the ELI-Unidroit Model Rules and future perspectives

On 25 September 2020, Xandra Kramer presented on the ELI-Unidroit Model European Rules of Civil Procedure: perspectives for national and European legislators at the closing workshop on the occasion of the UNIDROIT Governing Council meeting.
While the Rules cannot be copied into a national or supranational legal order one-on-one as they are not created as an all encompassing code, they have a number of interesting features that can serve as a model for national and European legislators.

The ELI-Unidroit Model European Rules of Civil Procedure were adopted by the European Law Institute and Unidroit in 2020. Xandra Kramer was involved in this large scale project from the inception at an exploratory workshop in Vienna in October 2013. She was a member and reporter of the working group on provisional and protective measures, and together with Loic Cadiet (Paris 1, Sorbonne) acted as co-reporter of the overarching Structure group, charged with with coordinating the work of the different working groups, filling the gaps, and securing a coherent set of model rules to be used by European and national legislators in particular. See also our blogpost on the adoption of these Model Rules on conflictoflaws.net.

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Covid-19 and Social Science Research

Together with Andrea Evers (professor of Health Psychology, Leiden University, Delft and Erasmus University), Xandra Kramer moderated a webinar on research practices during and after Covid-19 in the social sciences and humanities. The webinar took place on 10 September and was organised by the Dutch Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, of which Xandra is a member.

Panellists discussed the influence of Covid-19 on their research and research practices in general. It led to vivid and very interesting dicussions. While research practices and in particular international collaborations and field research is challenged, the pandemic and the opening up of more intensive online collaborations also creates opportunities. In particular for younger researchers and research communities in countries that are less versed in online communication, however, the pandemic has created uncertainties that need attention. The expectation is that the pandemic will continue to be topic of research in many areas of social sciences and will have a long-lasting effect on research practices.

These effects are also experienced by our research team. While it gave some food for thought (see also our blogposts on access to justice in times of corona and on collective redress and this webinar), it also hampers field research, research stays abroad, daily interaction between our team members as well as the participation in and organisation of live events that are more than the content of presentations only.

The recordings of the webinar (mostly English spoken, but parts in Dutch) are available here.

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Digital workshop European Civil Studies

Xandra Kramer participated as a commentator in a digital workshop organized by the Swedish Network for European Legal studies and Uppsala University on 20 August 2020. Xandra discussed a paper presented by Eva Storskrubb on the European Acccount Preservation Order.

The paper focused on the question whether the Regulation needs improvement. Xandra pointed to a number of issues that makes the implementation of this Regulation in the diverse legal systems of attachment and enforcement in the Member States particularly difficult. These include the intertwinement with substantive law, debt and insolvency law and the involvement of third parties. Recent case law and empirical research in a number of Member States shows that so far this Regulation is not used often in practice. It seems too early to draw firm conclusions as to whether the Regulation needs amendment or whether further harmonisation is required.

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Seminar International Judicial Cooperation Brazil

On 17 July 2020, Xandra Kramer participated, on invitation byPaula Sarno, in an Instagram Live event organized as part of the Projeto mulheres no processo by the the Brazilian Institute of Procedural Law (IBDP). Her talk evolved around international judicial cooperation and business litigation, in particular the trend of establishing international business courts and the importance of the new The Hague Judgment Convention for international dispute resolution. Her counterpart was Thiago Borges and the presentation took the form of a lively conversation, only hampered somewhat by the technique.

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Conference and Call for papers Frontiers in Civil Justice

Our conference Frontiers in Civil Justice will be held on 16-17 November 2020. We will address four key issues in civil justice requiring a deeper and renewed reflection in light of their contribution of facilitating access to justice. These are the shaping of the interaction between formal and informal justice, the digitalization of consumer dispute resolution (ODR), the collectivizing and monetizing of civil litigation and efforts of bringing justice closer to citizens. The conference will bring together academics, policymakers, practitioners and representatives of civil society to critically reflect on the opportunities and possible drawbacks ensuing from these paramount developments. The outline of the conference, including confirmed keynote speakers, is avaible here. Further details will be made available soon. Call for Papers! For the last part of the conference we welcome abstracts on the topic ‘Innovations in Civil Justice - Bringing Justice Closer to Citizens’. Please send in your abstract of max. 500 words before 31 July. Further details can be found here. We will have great speakers and look forward to exciting debates. We hope to see you in Rotterdam or online in case meeting in real is not possible due to the Covid-19 crisis.

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Recruiting five researchers on Affordable access to justice

We are recruiting five researchers (two postdocs, two PhDs and one parttime associate/endowed/full professor) for the new research project Affordable Access to Justice: towards sustainable cost and funding mechanisms for civil litigation in Europe.

This five year project is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and led by Prof. Xandra Kramer. The project will assess new pathways to civil justice funding and cost schemes, with a view to developing a balanced financing system securing access to justice in Europe. It builds onto the ongoing ERC consolidator project Building EU Civil Justice: challenges of procedural innovations – bridging access to justice.

Please contact Xandra Kramer (kramer@law.eur.nl) for more information on the project, and see Vici vacancies 2020 for the vacancy descriptions, application requirements and procedure. You can apply here till 17 July 2020.

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Conference on Covid-19 and civil justice

On the 15th of May, Xandra Kramer participated in an online conference dedicated to Covid-related litigation and judicial and legislative responses. The conference was organised with Catherine Piché (University of Montréal) and 18 speakers from different countries around the globe participated in this online event. Xandra discussed the closing down of the courts in the Netherlands on the 17th of March resulting from the lock-down. After this date, only urgent and written proceedings continued. A new temporary act was put in place to regulate distance hearings and other temporary measures concerning the operation of the courts and the online submission of documents. As of 11th of May, the courts re-opened, however with limitations to physical oral hearings and exclusion of the general public. She also discussed, following an interview with the president of the Rotterdam district court, how the corona crisis has led to boosting technology and innovation and a pragmatic approach of Dutch courts in this respect.

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Mass litigation in times of corona

Jos Hoevenaars and Xandra Kramer published a blogpost on conflictoflaws.net on mass litigation in times of corona and developments in the Netherlands. It discusses the rise of litigation and in particular mass litigation following from the corona crisis. Around the world, cases are being filed relating to health and economic effects and labour conditions. The new Dutch act that became applicable on the 1st of January 2020, the Collective Redress of Mass Damages Act (WAMCA), may be a useful tool to address the litigation following the corona crisis.

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Access to justice in times of corona

Digital court room Rotterdam (rechtspraak.nl)

While our focus is on keeping ourselves and others healthy and safe and we share the great concerns and grief caused by the corona virus, our team tries to keep the spirit up and is working at a reduced pace from home. Our PhD researcher Georgia had to return earlier from her research stay in Singapore – but we are happy to have her back safe and sound – and many of our planned activities have been cancelled. Luckily, some meetings and events can still go through online and we hope that this virus that has been so devastating for many people can be controlled soon and we can begin to pick up our normal life routines and work activities in a world that has been shaken.

The disruption of society has naturally also affected our justice systems. In the Netherlands, the courts were closed on 17 March 2020, and only process designated urgent cases (including child protection cases, health and security related cases, insolvency cases, and certain criminal cases). A positive side effect is the rapid uptake of digitisation of justice. In the Netherlands, on 3 April 2020 a legislative proposal was put forward to enable more electronic communication and video calling to secure that the judiciary can keep functioning. We report more in detail on this in our blogpost on Conflictoflaws.net.

Stay safe and healthy!

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Interview Jos Hoevenaars in ‘Het Advocatenblad’

Jos Hoevenaars was interviewed for the Dutch magazine for the legal profession ‘Het Advocatenblad’ about his insight into the experiences of lawyers who find themselves litigating before the European Court of Justice after their case is referred though a reference for a preliminary ruling. In the interview (freely translated: ‘Court of Justice? Experience Needed!’) he discusses his empirical research among Dutch lawyers and paints a picture of generally overwhelmed professionals scrambling for assistance among EU law scholars, while making the best of their opportunity to plead before the ECJ, often in opposition to a group of well-trained EU law experts appearing on behalf of intervening Member States. His work on the reference procedure highlight the inequality in representation before the ECJ and its potential negative impact on the Court’s caselaw and its national consequences.

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Guest researcher Anna Wysocka-Bar from Poland

In February, we hosted Anna Wysocka-Bar as a guest researcher at our team and Erasmus School of Law. Anna is a lecturer at Jagiellonian University (Poland) and an academic coordinator of a Jean Monnet Module 2019-2022 on European private international law. She holds PhD degree (the thesis on party autonomy in international succession law was successfully defended at Jagiellonian University, Poland) and an LLM in law and technology (Ottawa University, Canada).

Anna reported: "I came to Rotterdam to kick-off my research on the interaction between EU private international law and unified transport law conventions. Within three weeks of my stay in the Netherlands, I profited greatly from the Sanders Law Library in Rotterdam and Peace Palace Library in the Hague, attended seminars and guest lectures, spotted best practices when observing how EU private international law is taught at Erasmus School of Law, and, last but not least, was given the opportunity to discuss my ideas with top experts from Erasmus University – the hub of international transport, trade and private international law in Europe. My stay in the Netherlands was possible thanks to the famous Dutch hospitality and a research grant from the Miniatura programme of the National Science Center (Poland)."

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Seminar with students from the Sigmund Freud University Vienna

On Friday 21 February 2020, the team of the ERC project Building EU Civil Justice organised a seminar on European Cross-Border Procedures. Guests of this seminar were nine students from the Sigmund Freud University Vienna. The aim of this event was to create an international outlet where students would discuss topics related to the theme of the seminar and receive feedback from senior academics.

Before joining the Seminar, the students prepared a presentation which they presented and discussed at the Austrian Ministry of Justice, EU institutions in Brussels and the Hague Conference on Private International Law. The Erasmus School of Law was the last stage of this trip and the Building EU Civil Justice team gladly accepted to discuss with the students.

The Seminar was opened by Prof. Xandra Kramer, the leader of Building EU Civil Justice, and Florian Heindler, assistant professor at the Sigmund Freud University who was accompanying the students. After these warm greetings, Alina Ontanu gave a short lecture on Access to Justice via e-Handling of Cross-border Procedures. Next, Felix Gruber, Sarah Kremser, and Mariella Sturz presented respectively their research on the amendment of the EU Evidence Regulation in the light of IT, the amendment of the EU Service Regulation in the light of IT, and the impact of the Hague Service Convention on Austria. Priskila Pratita Penasthika form the ESL commented on their presentation and gave some feedback.

Emma van Gelder started the second half of the seminar with a lecture on online dispute resolution in Europe. Her lecture was followed by the presentations of Stella Galehr, Tessa Grosz, and Tanja Pfleger who respectively presented on the liability of states and private entities in relation to the use of IT in international legal cooperation, non-discriminatory access to IT-based judicial infrastructure, and questions of data protection in judicial cooperation under the Hague Adults Convention. For this panel, Betul Kas served as discussant and moderator. In the last panel of this seminar, Julius Merhaut, Simon Kirschner, and Andrea Szell presented while Erlis Themeli provided feedback. The presentations of these students focused on iSupport status quo and further perspectives, possibilities and risks of IT for a uniform commercial register, and the EIO - The implementation of the Directive 2014/41/EU (Int adm law).

In the end, those attending the seminar joined a small reception where they expressed their gratitude for the organisation and in particular for Erlis and Florian who coordinated it. Considering the positive experience, the Austrian guests wish to see similar events more often in the future. The Building EU Civil Justice team is more than happy to host and help organising similar events in the future.

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e-Justice seminar with SFU Vienna

On 21 February 2020, Dr. Florian Heindler (Sigmund Freud University, Vienna) our team - with special thanks to Erlis Themeli - organized a small scale a seminar on e-justice at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Nine students from Vienna accompanied Dr. Heindler to learn abouy and give presentation on e-justice. Our univeristy was the last one in a series of visits, including to the European Commission and the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

The students presented their research on a wide variety of interesting topics on judicial cooperation and the use of IT, including on the Service and Evidence Regulations and Conventions, liablity in relation to the use of IT international legal cooperation, non-discriminatory access to IT-based judicial infrastructure, and data protection. Some of our ERC members and other staff members of our law school gave a presentation or acted as commentator to the students' presentations.

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Xandra Kramer obtains Vici grant for project on litigation funding

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded Xandra Kramer a Vici grant of 1.5 million euros for the project 'Affordable access to justice: towards sustainable cost and funding mechanisms for civil litigation in Europe'. This grant will enable to further develop her research in the area of civil justice and to consolidate her research group in the coming five years. Vici is one of the largest scientific grants for individuals in the Netherlands and targets advanced researchers.

The project will assess new pathways to civil justice funding and cost schemes, with a view to developing a balanced financing system, thereby securing access to justice in Europe. We will analyse the development of (private) financing and cost mechanisms in several European jurisdictions and build on a framework for financing and cost rules that contributes to a sustainable European civil justice system.

The Vici grant builds on the present ERC Consolidator project Building EU Civil Justice. The new project is expected to kick off in September 2020. We will start recruiting postdoc and PhD researchers as well as a senior researcher soon.

See the press release by Erasmus School of Law.

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Presentation e-justice and evidence in Campinas

On 6 February 2020, Xandra Kramer gave two presentations on developments in e-justice and e-evidence in Europe and globally at MacKenzie University in Campinas, Brazil. These presentations were part of a 'trilogy' on civil justice, focusing on the past, the present and the future. Prof. Remco van Rhee (Maastricht University) focused on historical aspects, while Prof. Alan Uzelac (University of Zagreb) addressed the use of artificial intelligence in civil justice.

These lectures were part of the celebration of the 150th anniversity of MacKenzie University in Campinas. Our stay in Campinas was kindly hosted by Prof. Edilson Vitorelli.

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Summer School New Trends In European Civil Procedure in Vitória

Xandra Kramer presented at a Summer School on New trends in European Civil Procedure and the ELI-Unidroit Model Rules that took place in Vitória, Brazil, from 3-5 February 2020. Her key note focused on the mission, general principles and prospective of the ELI-Unidroit European Rules of Civil Procedure, which are expected be adopted this year. Commentators were Profs. Antonio do Passo Cabral (UERF) and Ricardo Gueiros (UFES). This Summer School was organized by Profs. Hermes Zaneti jr. (UFES) and Antonio Cabral, and hosted by the Federal University of Espírito Santo. Other key notes speakers were Prof. Remco van Rhee (Maastricht University) and Alan Uzelac (University of Zagreb). Our stay in Vitória was kindly hosted by Prof. Hermes Zaneti.

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Presentation Mass Settlements in Rio

As part of a two weeks stay in Brazil, Xandra Kramer gave a presentation at a seminar on collective redress, organized by the Public Procecutors Office and ProcNet, in Rio de Janeiro on 31 January 2020. Our stay was kindly hosted by Prof. Antonio Cabral (UERF). The seminar assembled public prosecutors involved on collective action in Brazil, lawyers, academics and students. Her presentation focused on Collective redress and mass settlements in a Dutch, European and private international law perpective. Discussion evolved around the WCAM settlement mechanism and international jurisdiction, safeguards in collective actions and the new Dutch act on collective action for damages that came into force on 1 January of this year.

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New year, new ERC team member!

On 1 January 2020 Betül Kas joined our ERC team as a postdoc researcher on the subproject on privatisation of civil justice. She is the successor of Alexandre Biard, who as of December 2019 continued his career as a senior advisor at BEUC in Brussels, where he will be able to use his extensive research experience for the benefit of enforcing consumer rights in the EU. We are grateful for his invaluable contribution to our project, resulting in an impressive number of publications and conference presentations among others. We all greatly appreciated his many initiatives, his fieldwork, support of the other researchers, work spirit, and good sense of humour. We are happy to keep him in our team as an affiliated researcher and look forward to our futher collaboration.

We welcome Betül to our team as the successor of Alexandre for the postdoc project on privatisation. She has an impressive track record, having worked among others as a PhD researcher in the ERC Advanced project of Hans Micklitz at the European University Institute in Florence and as a postdoc researcher in the Vidi project led by Chantal Mak at the University of Amsterdam. Her German background will further strengthen our research on German law and practice. One of her research focuses will be the interaction between public and private justice. We are very happy to have Betül on our team and look forward to working with her in 2020 and onwards!

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ACES research grant

Two ERC Members – Erlis Themeli and Emma van Gelder – in cooperation with Anna van Duin (UvA) received the ACES research grant to organize an academic conference. The theme of this Conference focuses on the question if and how digital and intelligent technologies can contribute to enhancing access to justice for EU citizens and consumers. It aims at bringing together legal scholars and social scientists with an interest in (automated) decision-making processes and dispute resolution mechanisms in contemporary Europe. As such, it aims to spark an interdisciplinary debate within the research community at UvA and beyond on how technological developments can facilitate access to justice, a cornerstone of the rule of law. The organisers are preparing the programma and the conference is intended to take place in September 2020.

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Guest lecturer at the Bar-Ilan University (Israel)

Erlis Themeli was invited as a guest lecturer at the Bar-Ilan University (Ramat Gan, Israel) from 16 to 20 December 2019. Erlis delivered lectures on digital technologies and law to a group of Israeli and international students. During this week, Erlis presented also at the Law, Artificial intelligence and Data Science Conference organised on 18-19 December 2019. The Conference served as an inauguration event for the BIU LawData LAB. This invitation was supported by an Erasmus+ grant of the European Union. Erlis’ presentation was well received with many participants suggesting ways to follow up on it. Erlis had also the possibility to establish a bridgehead with colleagues from the BIU LawData LAB, which will serve as a starting point for future collaborations.

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HCCH a|Bridged e-Service

On 11 December, Xandra Kramer and Emma van Gelder participated in the HCCH a|Bridged Edition 2019 held at the Peace Palace in the Hague. The conference evolved around innovation in cross-border litigation and civil procedure, focusing on the HCCH Service Convention in the era of electronic and information technology.

Emma presented within the Panel ‘The Prism: The Tech Battle for e-Service’. Her topic was distributed ledger technology (DLT). She first briefly explained what DLT is. Subsequently, she explained how DLT could support and improve the operation of the HCCH Service Convention, touching upon benefits as efficiency, transparency and the mitigation on the dependence of an intermediary. After setting out the benefits, she presented several challenges of DLT touching upon challenges as lack of an international legal framework and legal standards, scalability challenges and the digital divide.

Xandra chaired the Open Lab panel, involving an academic examination of the operation of the Service Convention in the world of tomorrow and a discussion with the audience. Xandra’s presentation focused on the achievements of the Service Convention, as one of the most successful Conventions. She highlighted problems encountered in the EU context extrapolated to the global level as well as the tension between the required efficiency to improve access to justice and the need for protecting other fundamental rights, including the right to be heard, privacy and security in the digital context. She addressed the question in how far the Convention would need amendment, considering the principle of functional equivalent, and the need for an overarching instrument on digital judicial cooperation.

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Ius Commune Conference KU Leuven

On 28-29 November 2019, the Ius Commune Research School organised its annual congress. Emma van Gelder and Erlis Themeli presented at the workshop Technology for Civil Justice. Erlis presented on The virtual courtroom and users’ perception, which relates to his research on the use new technologies in courts rooms. Emma presented jointly with Bianca Kremer (University of St Gallen) on Consumer ODR and blockchain within the workshop Technology for Civil Justice, aimed to explore the impact of technology on civil justice from the perspective of acess to justice and procedural fairness. Both Erlis and Emma participated in the open discussion organised at the end of this workshop. In addition, Erlis presented also at the workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Fundamental Rights. His presentation on Applying AI in Courts received positive feedback and served as an important building block for the discussion during the workshop.

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Aarhus Colloquium – News Item

The INTRAlaw programme of the Aarhus University organised a colloquium on 21st and 22nd November 2019 intended to discuss issues related to access to justice. The organisers were particularly interested in legal aid and digitisation and access to justice in environmental cases. Erlis Themeli was invited to participate and bring his expertise and that of our project in the discussion. During the discussion Erlis pointed out the new challenges that digital technologies bring to courts, court-users, and legislators. He pointed-out that these challenges should not be isolated from other aspects of access to justice. A comprehensive approach, like the one Building EU Civil Justice takes, is more beneficial to the parties involved. The colloquium ended with a pledge to meet again in the future and further discuss on this important topic.

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New Erasmus Law Review special Issue and new Book out!

The latest issue of Erasmus Law Review, edited by Xandra Kramer and John Sorabji, is dedicated to International Business Courts. It contains eleven papers focusing on a specific jurisdiction or on horizontal issues, including on international jurisdiction and lawyers’ preferences in international litigation. This special issue results from the seminar ‘Innovating International Business Courts: a European Outlook’, and includes the speaker contributions to that seminar and additional articles resulting from a call for papers on this blog.

The complete issue can be downloaded here.

Similtaneously a book expanding on the topic and including views from twelve jurisdictions has just been published: International Business Courts: A European and Global Perspective (eds. Xandra Kramer & John Sorabji), Eleven International Publishing 2019. (order form)

The open access electronic version of this book is available here.

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ODR Forum 2019

On the 29th of October, Emma van Gelder gave a presentation at the ODR Forum 2019, held in Virginia, United States of America. This conference gathers ODR experts and practitioners from around the world to discuss topical issues within ODR. Emma presented her research on the European Union approach to consumer ODR with references to two case-studies she undertook giving insights derived from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. She outlined the EU legislation on Consumer ADR/ODR, discussing the ADR Directive 2013/11 and the ODR Regulation 524/2013, and the first results of this legislation in practice. Based on the findings as well as the case-studies, she gave some recommendations and thoughts on how to improve the legislation.

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Presentations at seminar ‘The Democratic Courthouse?’

On 27 September the VSR and the ESL-research programme ‘Rethinking the Rule of Law’ organised a socio-legal seminar at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. During this meeting, Linda Mulcahy (Professor of Socio-Legal Studies and the Director of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford) presented her research titled ‘The Democratic Courthouse? Unravelling the complex relationship between design, due process and dignity in English courts’. Xandra Kramer acted as a discussant for professor Mulcahy.

Additionally, Jos Hoevenaars presented results of his doctoral research on litigation before the European Court of Justice and tied it into his research on (self)representation and the impact of lawyers in the courtroom.

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Xandra Kramer installed as member of Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

Following the election as a member to the Royal Netherlands Society of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) earlier this year, Xandra Kramer was installed at a ceremony on 17 September 2019, along with 21 other Dutch and foreign scholars. After giving a short speech, focusing on the importance of access to civil justice and research speerheads, the sound of the chime confirmed the installation.

Xandra was elected for her work in the area of European civil justice and private international law. The Royal Academy is the forum, conscience, and voice of the arts and sciences in the Netherlands, the Academy promotes the quality of scientific and scholarly work and strives to ensure that Dutch scholars and scientists make the best possible contribution to the cultural, social, and economic development of Dutch society. The Royal Academy currently has around 500 Dutch members and a selection of foreign members, elected for life, representing all arts and sciences.

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Presentation at the Society of Legal Scholars, Preston (UK)

On 3 September 2019, Erlis Themeli participated in the 110th Annual Conference of the Society of Legal Scholars, “Central Questions about Law” held at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, the United Kingdom. This Conference gathers academics from the UK and abroad to discuss almost all the topics related to law. A part of the Conference is dedicated to private international issues. Erlis presented his research on possible limits to consumer protection in the Brussels I (recast) Regulation. This study suggests that in the digital world some customers may conceal or deform their identity. As a result, unaware traders may find themselves dealing with customers domiciled in jurisdictions where they do not want to trade. The aim of the study is consider the possible consequences that new technologies have on private international law.

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Xandra Kramer scientific fellow Max Planck Institute Luxembourg

Xandra Kramer has been appointed as an external scientific fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Procedural Law in Luxembourg. In August she will stay at the Institute to work on several research projects.

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New Small claims Practice Guide and User Guide

Xandra Kramer has authored the updated Practice Guide and User Guide for the European Small Claims Procedure, approved by the European Judicial Network. The Small Claims Regulation became applicable on 1 January 2009, and an amended version became applicable on 14 July 2017, necessitating updates of the Guides. The European Small Claims Regulation aims to provide a low threshold procedure for consumers to claim their rights in cross-border cases in the EU. The amended Regulation enables to pursue claims with a value up to 5,000 EUR. It strengthens the electronic support and conduct of the procedure, making it more accessible to in person litigants. A novelty in the User Guide and the extensive Practice Guide is the link to available ADR mechanisms and the reference to the ODR platform, which informs consumers and practitioners about the existing alternatives. These are part of a consumer campaign launched in July to inform consumers about their rights. The new Guides as well as other tools on and information about the Small Claims Procedure is available in the Small Claims Section of the e-Justice Portal.

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International Civil and Commercial Dispute Resolution and Judicial Cooperation in Asia Pacific

On 18 July, Alina Ontanu and Georgia Antonopoulou gave a presentation at the ‘International Civil and Commercial Dispute Resolution and Judicial Cooperation in Asia Pacific’ conference organized by the China-Australia Private International Law Forum in Shanghai, China. During her presentation Alina focused on the potential of the newly established international commercial courts to address the needs of cross-border litigation. Georgia in turn compared the international commercial courts established in Europe and Asia. Despite their common features, Georgia highlighted the differentiated approaches the European vs. the Asian courts adopt with regard to the international character of the disputes they handle, their voluntary establishment of jurisdiction and their arbitration like features.

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R3 & INSOL Europe’s International Restructuring Conference

On 11 July Georgia chaired the panel ‘The rise of commercial courts across the globe’ during the R3 & INSOL Europe’s International Restructuring Conference. Justice Michael Quinn from the Dublin Commercial Division, judge Martin Vaessen from the Netherlands Commercial Court, Mr. Jacques Bouyssou from the Paris Place de Droit and judge Ulrike Willoughby from the Frankfurt Chamber for International Commercial Disputes presented the international commercial courts established in their home jurisdictions. During a Q&A session the chair and the panel speakers discussed the advantages of international commercial courts, their distinguishing features and the role they could possibly play in cross-border insolvency proceedings.

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Study on consumers’ attitudes vis-à-vis the Consumer Mediation Service in Belgium

The research investigated consumers' attitudes and expectations when they engage with the Consumer Mediation Service (Service de Médiation pour le Consommateur/Consumentenombudsdienst), which is the public residual ADR entity acting in Belgium. The study focused on the situation of consumers with uncomplete files submitted in 2018 and was conducted by ERC researchers at Erasmus University, in collaboration with the Consumer Mediation Service and KU Leuven. It was based on an online survey completed by approx. 340 consumers. The report formulates several policy recommendations for futher improving the work and functioning of the Ombudsman. Results are available here, both in French and Dutch.

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Research stay at the University of Oxford

Emma van Gelder conducted two-month visiting research at the University of Oxford, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies as part of her PhD under supervision of Professor Christopher Hodges (Trinity Term 2019 May and June).

As the United Kingdom (England and Wales) forms one of her selected case-studies of her PhD, she choose to conduct her research at Oxford. During her time there she researched the UK civil justice system and more specifically, the sector of Consumer ADR within the justice system. Next to theoretical research, she conducted about ten interviews with Consumer ADR schemes throughout the UK that used IT within their dispute resolution process.

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Presenting at the conference on collective redress by UCALL, Utrecht University

On Friday 28 June, Alexandre presented at the conference organized by the Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law (UCALL) of Utrecht University. The conference focused on collective redress in the Netherlands and in Europe. Alexandre presented the experience with class actions in France, and new interactions between collective redress and Legaltech.

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Presenting at the Annual Meeting of the Club des Médiateurs de Services au Public, in Paris

On Wednesday 26 June, Alexandre was invited to speak in Paris at the annual meeting of the Club des Médiateurs de Services au Public, which is the association gathering all key French ombudsmen operating in a wide range of sectors (such as energy, education, financial services, telecom, transports, tourism, etc.). He discussed the past, present and future of consumer ADR in Europe and in France with a presentation entitled "Médiation de la consommation en Europe et en France: hier, aujourd'hui et (surtout!) demain". This event was also an excellent opportunity to exchange with French stakeholders about ongoing developments in the field, in particular on issues relating to ADR and digitalisation, use of Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Justice tools, relationships between ADR and courts, simplication and rationalisation of ADR sectors, and many others important topics.

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Presentations on European civil procedures in Trier

Xandra Kramer gave a presentation on pathways to European civil procedures and delivered a workshop on the use of these procedures and the e-Justice portal at the Summer course on cross-border civil litigation at the European Law Academy (ERA) in Trier on 26 June 2019. This Summer School is attended by practicing lawyers from across Europe and aims at building knowledge on EU justice and cross-border litigation.

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European Council Meeting on e-Justice

Xandra Kramer participated in the legal panel at the Annual Meeting of the Working Party on e-Law (e-Justice) of the European Council in Brussels on 24 June 2019. Thus meeting is part of the Multiannual European e-Justice Action Plan 2019-2023 that brings together representatives of the Member States, judiciaries and lawyers, with the aim to further develop e-justice. She discussed developments in the Netherlands and at the European level, as well as problems encountered in enhancing e-justice and views on the future. During lunch time the panellists discussed the most topical issues from a legal perspective to present to the joint panel of legal and technical experts and discuss with the audience.

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Seminar ‘It Takes Two to Tango’

On June 13 and 14, Jos Hoevenaars joined a group of scholars working on the preliminary reference procedure of the EU legal system for an exchange of ideas and perspectives on the ‘dance’ between national courts and the Court of Justice of the EU. The seminar ‘It Takes Two to Tango’ and organised by the Radboud University of Nijmegen took place in Ede (the Netherlands) and brought together an interdisciplinary group of scholars with various empirical point(s) of view in terms of how national courts (do not) send references to the ECJ. Jos was invited to present his work on the ECJ and empirical insights into the preliminary reference procedure from the perspective of legal practitioners that have participated in these proceedings.

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Attending the Public Private Justice Conference on Class Actions in Dubrovnik

On 27 and 28 May 2019, Xandra and Alexandre presented at the Public and Private Justice (PPJ) Conference organised in Dubrovnik. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Class Actions – the Holy Grail for (European) civil procedure ?’. Xandra gave insights on collective redress from a Dutch and transnational perspective, and Alexandre highlighted the latest developments in France.

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Pax Moot Court 2019

Alina Ontanu, Emma van Gelder and Erlis Themeli in collaboration with Priskila Penasthika, Georgia Antonopoulou and Marta Kolacz, coached the Erasmus Law School team in the Pax Moot Court 2019 on Private International Law.

Four students from the Erasmus University Rotterdam were selected to participate in the Pax Moot Court to represent the Erasmus School of Law (ESL): Mirna van Oers, Sarah Mourahine, Stijn Voogt and Azdin Mataich. The students had to prepare a case which concerned issues on same-sex marriage, child adoption and labour law issues. The first month the students studied international private law intensively in order to submit the written Memorials in April 2019. The Memorial of our team was received very well by the judges of the Pax Moot team.

The weeks before the pleadings were devoted to practicing their oral pleadings. On Friday 24 May, the first round of pleadings was held at Sorghvliet Gymnasium in The Hague. The team competed against the University of Antwerp and against Paris Dauphine University in the morning. In the afternoon, the team had to compete against the University of Heidelberg and Sciences Po. Although the students debated intensively with sharp arguments and got involved into heated pleadings, the score was just too low to make it to the finals.

All in all we are proud of our students and it was a great experience coaching them.

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‘Sharing Power and Responsibility: On the Role of European Courts in EU Soci(et)al Challenges’

On May 23 and 24, Jos Hoevenaars joined the community of scholars working on the role of the ECJ for the seminar ‘Sharing Power and Responsibility: On the Role of European Courts in EU Soci(et)al Challenges’ at Helsinki University in Finland. The seminar focused on the role of the ECJ in responding to social challenges as well as on national point(s) of view in terms of how national courts (do not) mobilise EU law to affect change in socio-economic yet ultimately legal situations – or legal yet ultimately socio-economic – which they consider problematic. Jos was invited to present his work on the ECJ and empirical insights into the preliminary reference procedure. His contribution focused on the advantages of in-depth bottom approaches to litigation in the European sphere and the role of individual litigants in shaping the European legal field through the ECJ’s jurisprudence.

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Guest lecturer at the Moscow State Law University

Erlis Themeli was invited as a guest lecturer at the Moscow State Law University (MSAL) from 11 to 19 May 2019. This invitation was supported by an Erasmus+ grant of the European Union. Erlis delivered a series of lectures on international commercial courts. The audience showed considerable interest in the topic and in particular on its significance for the Russian legal landscape. Erlis had also the possibility to have meetings with colleagues from the MSAL, which will serve as a collaboration bridge for the future.

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Xandra Kramer selected as member of the KNAW

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) has selected Xandra Kramer as a member based on her outstanding scientific achievements. Instalment of the nineteen new Academy members will take place on Monday 16 September. The KNAW has around 550 members, of whom 39 within the legal domain. Members of the KNAW are leading scientists from all disciplines. The instalment entails a lifelong membership to the KNAW. The KNAW is the forum, voice and conscience of science in the Netherlands. With their research and collections, the institutes of the KNAW belong to the (inter)national scientific top. At the basis of all its activities is the conviction that knowledge and creativity are the most important ingredients for well-being and prosperity. Xandra Kramer will become a member within the domain of Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences and Law.

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Presenting empirical study investigating consumer behaviour to the main Belgian Ombudsmen in Brussel

On 29 April 2019, Alexandre Biard and Stefaan Voet presented the results of a field research conducted in collaboration with the Consumer Mediation Service (Service de Médiation pour les Consommateurs/Consumentenombudsdient) to the main Belgian ombudsmen (telecom, energy, rail, financial services). The research intends to investigate consumer expectations and experiences when they engage with the Consumer Mediation Service, and seeks to make policy recommendations to promote more effective services. The report is written also in collaboration with Kyra Hanemaaijer and Emma van Gelder, and will be available online shortly.

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Expert Meeting on the Use of AI in the Administration of Justice

On Thursday 18 April, Stefan Philipsen (Montaigne Centre for the Rule of Law and Justice) and Erlis Themeli (Erasmus School of Law) organised an expert meeting on the use of artificial intelligence in the administration of justice in Utrecht. The aim of the meeting was to present some recent research results in the field of artificial intelligence in the judiciary.

In recent years, the possibilities of using artificial intelligence in the judiciary have been explicitly considered. This development is in line with a broader trend whereby the exercise of governmental authority is highly automated. When it comes to the imposition of tax assessments and the determination of social security, civil servants only intervene to a very limited extent. The judiciary is also experimenting with the use of artificial intelligence.

During the meeting, participants exchanged views on the opportunities and dangers of the use of artificial intelligence in the judiciary. Recent developments were mapped out, and some suggestions for future research were advanced. This meeting builds on an previous meeting organized in 2018 in Rotterdam, which was financed by the Erasmus Initiative Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity. Artificial Intelligence is one of the avenues that the digitization of justice is taking. This research falls within the ERC funded project Building EU Civil justice.

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Conference: ‘e’ meets justice

The ‘Building EU Civil Justice’ project of the Erasmus School of Law (ESL) and the e-CODEX Plus project of the Dutch Ministry of Justice are organising the conference: “‘e’ meets justice”. On 2 and 3 May 2019, academics, IT and legal professionals will meet in Lisbon to discuss how to improve the collaboration between these communities in cross-border civil procedures. The aim of the conference is to offer a platform for different stakeholders to meet, engage in discussions and exchange ideas in order to find a meeting point between the legal world and the digital world, arriving at ‘e-justice’. Focusing on e-CODEX as a potential tool to improve the current situation, participants will be encouraged to propose ideas, engage in discussions and develop a mind-set to foster the future of e-Justice in the EU.

In recent years, cross-border (e-)commerce has increased rapidly. In particular, e-commerce enabled consumers to engage in online transactions with traders from outside their jurisdictions. This development resulted in a growing number of cross-border (online) disputes. While the number of disputes surges, there is a lack of suitable redress mechanisms for consumers, posing challenges to access justice. Consumers encounter obstacles to find a remedy for their cross-border claims, due to differences in language, increased costs, longer procedures, and various diverging legal procedures. It is important that justice embraces technology in order to support online and offline consumers. For a smooth functioning of the Internal Market, it is essential that the consumer has trust and confidence to make (online) cross-border purchases. Therefore, the European Union has been active in creating consumer protection legislation, both in substantive law and more recently in procedural law. Cross-border procedures exist, but their accurate functioning requires that infrastructure must be interlinked and coherent, and should enable more dialogue between stakeholders. In this regard, e-CODEX can be a valuable tool to provide the digital exchange of case related data, connecting parties and courts in a single interface.

You can find more information on the programme on: https://www.e-codex.eu/e-meets-justice-conference. Do you want to be part of this lively and thought-provoking dialogue? You can register now by sending an email to: aanmelden@minvenj.nl.

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Interview with the French National Energy Ombudsman - April 2019

In the latest Lettre du Médiateur National de l’Energie of April 2019, Alexandre responded to the questions of the French national energy Ombudsman, and shared his views about recent consumer ADR developments in France and the upcoming challenges. Full interview (in French) available here: https://www.energie-mediateur.fr/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/lettre-mediateurn35.pdf.

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Presentation at the Legal Data Mining Conference, Paris (FR)

On 21-22 March, Erlis Themeli participated in the “Legal Data Mining Conference” organised in Paris by the HEC Paris, École Polytechnique, DATAIA, and the Japanese National Institute of Informatics. The purpose of this Conference was to structure a conversation on both the fundamental and practical issues of legal data mining between scholars from AI, law, and logic. Erlis presented some preliminary findings from his empirical study on the perception of an AI-judge by court-users. This study, which is part of his research on the digitisation of justice, is conducted in collaboration with colleagues from the Rotterdam School of Management, the Erasmus School of Law, and the Utrecht University. The aim of the study is to better understand the reaction of court-users when facing a non-human judge.

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How Do People Navigate the Maze of the Law?

Xandra Kramer and Christoph Engel (ESL; Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods) presented the results of their vignette study on how laypeople navigate the maze of the law at the Workshop on Experiments at the Crossroads of Law and Economics (organised by the Erasmus School of Law and Erasmus School of Economics) on 27 March 2019. The study aimed to investigate the relevance of legal uncertainty for the decision of laypersons to rely on the legal system as a means for seeking redress.

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Presenting at the EU-China Legal Affairs Dialogue in Beijing

On 21-22 March 2019, Alexandre participated in the 3rd EU-China Legal Affairs Dialogue in Beijing. The event was co-hosted by the European Commission, the European External Action Service, the Chinese Ministry of Justice and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and gathered EU and chinese public officials, experts and academics. Exchanges focused on new developments in consumer dispute resolution, ethical and legislative challenges related to the use of artificial intelligence, and the future Chinese civil Code. Alexandre gave a talk on ‘ensuring the quality of consumer ADR’.

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Presenting at the ADR/ODR conference in Oxford

On 18-19 March 2019, Xandra, Emma and Alexandre participated in the ADR/ODR conference organised at Wolfson College, Oxford. The event gathered key stakeholders of the European ADR/ODR community, including representatives of several EU ombudsmen, academics and policy experts. Alexandre presented the latest developments on ADR in France. Xandra and Alexandre took part in a panel on policy and research issues, focusing among others on the interaction between courts and ADR/ODR and strenghtening of the quality of consumer ADR.

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Presentation at the Max Planck Guest Forum

On 12 March 2019, Georgia Antonopoulou presented at the Max Planck Guest Forum her research on European international commercial courts. The Guest Forum at the Max Planck Institute for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law offers guests the opportunity to present their current research and discuss their ideas with other guests and researchers of the Institute. During her presentation, Georgia focused on the recently established Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC) and the anticipated German Chambers for International Commercial Disputes (Kammern für Internationale Handelssachen). She presented the provisions regulating the jurisdiction of these courts aiming to assess how accessible they are to interested parties.

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Presentation European Rules of Civil Procedure in Hamburg

On 14-15 March 2019 the bi-annual Bi-Annual Conference of the Wissenschaftliche Vereinigung für Internationales Verfahrensrecht took place at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg. Xandra Kramer presented the mission, general principles, and the prospects of the ELI-Unidroit European Rules of Civil Procedure, and participated in a discussion panel.

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Presentation at the Graduate Law and Artificial Intelligence Conference, Montreal (CA)

On 25 February, Erlis Themeli participated in the “Graduate Law and Artificial Intelligence Conference" organised by the Cyberjustice Laboratory of the Montreal University in Canada. The Conference was intended as outlet platform for young researchers and as an opportunity to discuss on the use of artificial intelligence in fostering empowerment. Erlis presented a paper on how the rights of court-users may be affected by the use of artificial intelligence in courts. This paper is co-authored by Stefan Philipsen from the Utrecht University and serves to complete the theoretical framework of an empirical research conducted in collaboration with colleagues from the Rotterdam School of Management, the Erasmus School of Law, and the Utrecht University. The aim of the study is to better understand the reaction of court-users when facing a non-human judge.

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‘e’ meets justice conference Lisbon, 2-3 May 2019

On 2 and 3 May 2019, academics, IT and legal professionals will meet in Lisbon to discuss how to improve the collaboration between these communities in cross-border civil procedures. During this two-day conference, participants will be asked to reflect on issues that currently complicate the cooperation, but are also invited to share ideas on possible solutions. The goal of the conference is to identify the issues at stake, to learn of diverging approaches on citizen-centered cross-border justice and to find means to jointly deploy these approaches to bring justice closer to citizens.

The full program will be published shortly. You can pre-register here.

The event is organised by the e-CODEX Plus project in cooperation with the ‘Building EU Civil Justice’ project run by the Erasmus School of Law of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

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Last joint meeting ELI-Unidroit European Rules of Civil Procedure

On 25-26 February 2019, the last joint meeting of the Steering Committee, the overarching Working Group on Structure, the co-reporters of the other working groups and the institutional observers of the ELI-Unidroit project on European Rules of Civil Procedure took place in Rome.

Xandra Kramer presented the progress of the WG on Structure and the new consolidated draft rules, followed by a fruitful discussion between the present members of the working group and the participants. The latest drafts of the three last ongoing working groups were also presented and discussed.

The consolidated draft will be completed this year and is scheduled for adoption early next year. The ELI-Unidroit European Rules of Civil Procedure will be a model law on civil procedure for Europe.

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The NCC’s best advocate!

During the guest lecture ‘International commercial courts in Europe: Tips and tricks to go viral’ Georgia Antonopoulou and Erlis Themeli asked the master students of the Private Law master program of the Erasmus School of Law to prepare a pitch and a logo promoting the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC), which just opened its doors in January 2019. In the shadow of Brexit, EU Member States increasingly establish international commercial courts aspiring to attract cross-border disputes often resolved before the London Commercial Court. In their assignments, the students had to highlight the strengths of the NCC in comparison to similar international commercial courts in Europe. The students actively promoted the new court and translated its pros and innovative features in a short pitch and logo. Interestingly enough, few students questioned the need to advertise courts and claimed that justice is a public service that should not be approached from a market perspective. In the end the students voted in favour of Dorian Acoca. Acoca’s pitch was the most persuasive and his logo was the most eye-catching. Now, it is the time for Dorian and his logo to go viral just as the courts. Well done!

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Presenting latest EU developments on consumer law enforcement at the Slovak Judicial Academy

On 6-7 February, Alexandre presented the EU toolbox for consumer law enforcement (with a special focus on ADR/ODR and collective redress) to 40 European judges and prosecutors, as part of the training programme "Consumer protection and the role of the national judge" organised by the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) at the Slovak Judicial Academy in Omšenie.

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Presentation at the International Seminar “Algorithmis of Dispute Resolution”

On 28 and 29 January, Erlis Themeli participated in the International Seminar “Algorithmisation of Dispute Resolution" organised by the Vilnius University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Seminar was intended as a discussion platform on the use of artificial intelligence in dispute resolution. Erlis presented some preliminary findings from his empirical study on the perception of an AI-judge by court-users. This study, which is part of his research on the digitisation of justice, is conducted in collaboration with colleagues from the Rotterdam School of Management, the Erasmus School of Law, and the Utrecht University. The aim of the study is to better understand the reaction of court-users when facing a non-human judge.

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Presentation EU Law Mobilization at VSR Annual Conference 2019

On January 10 and 11, Jos Hoevenaars joined the community of legal sociologists in the Netherlands and Belgium for the Annual Conference of the VSR (Dutch/Belgian Sociology of Law Society) at Schiermonnikoog, the Netherlands.
The theme of the conference was 'Shifting Powers', and Jos was invited to present his work on the ECJ and the strategic use of the preliminary reference procedure on a panel about Diversity and Claims-making organized by Professor Betty de Hart and Iris Sportel. His contribution focused on a case study around national actors that mobilized EU rules and jurisprudence from the Court of Justice to challenge a Dutch policy of increased fees for residence permits.

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(Happy) New Year - New Court!

The 1st of January 2019 marked the coming into being of the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC). After intensive discussions the establishment of the NCC was proved by the Dutch Senate (Tweede Kamer) on 11 December 2018. We have reported on the most important parliamentary procedures in previous posts. As expected the court and its staff are ready to begin their work, supported by a dedicated website – there is even a new promotional video – a Twitter, and a LinkedIn account. Information at the website of the judiciary in Dutch is available here and in English here.

The NCC and other similar courts will be on focus in a special issue of the Erasmus Law Review and a book dedicated to the international business courts, which will be published this year. Georgia Antonopoulou, Alexandre Biard and Erlis Themeli will contribute to these publications, while Xandra Kramer will be one of the editors (in collaboration with Advisory Board member John Sorabji).

With this first news item, we would like to wish all of our readers, friends, and colleagues an inspiring and happy 2019!

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How the Grinch ... Looking Back at 2018 and Happy Holidays

Dear Reader,

2018 has come to an end. It was the first full year of our ERC project and it has been a very intensive, fruitful, learningful and rich year. Jos and Erlis defended their PhD theses. Emma and Georgia completed their first year of Erasmus Graduate School of Law. All six of us have presented our work in different countries and in different settings, moderated panels, published papers and blogs, taught courses and master classes, and participated in many interesting events.

Our highlights were the two events we organized in Rotterdam. On 10 July the seminar on Innovating International Business Courts, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg and the Montaigne Institute of Utrecht University. We are happy and excited that the proposal on the Netherlands Commercial Court was finally adopted by the Senate on 11 December 2018. The ERC Conference Challenge Accepted! Pathways to Civil Justice in Europe, covering all four subtopics of our project took place on 19 and 20 November 2018. In the morning of the 19th we presented our work and discussed the progress with our Advisory Board. Our team devoted a lot of time, energy, passion and joy to organizing these two successful events.

In the last week before the Christmas break, Emma coorganized the annual ESL Private Law Christmas dinner with games, food, drinks and fun! (see picture). Riddles, a grinch, the quest to find two missing professors…

Thank you dear colleagues, friends, collaborators, participants in our events, advisory board members and our fantastic student assistant Kyra, for helping us in unraveling and connecting different pathways to achieve a sustainable civil justice system.

Dear fellow ERC groupies, thank you so much for all your wonderful work for our project, and for enriching me with all your multifaceted talents, intelligence, insights, wisdom, joy, passions, and for making me laugh. And thanks for supporting me when I needed it most.

It is now time to enjoy our holidays, cycling in Spain, with family and friends in the Netherlands, France, Ireland, England, Albania, and Greece. We will be back in Rotterdam in 2019!

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

Xandra

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No Fake News: the Netherlands Commercial Court is a Fact

On 11 December 2018, the proposal to establish the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC) was finally approved. It had passed the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) already on 8 March 2018. It was scheduled for adoption by the Senate (Eerste Kamer) soon after and we optimistically reported that it was realistic that the NCC would open its doors in 2018. However, further debates on the need for and the modalities of this court arose, and the voting was postponed. We are excited that the proposal has been adopted finally, and that the NCC will open its doors in 2019. See our blogpost on conflictoflaws.net for more information.

Georgia Antonopoulou is writing her PhD on international business courts, and in 2019 a special issue of Erasmus Law Review and a book dedicated to international business courts in a European and global perspective will be published.

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7th annual Civil Justice Council National Forum on access to justice for those without means

On invitation Jos Hoevenaars attended the 7th annual Civil Justice Council National Forum on access to justice for those without means taking place in London on 7 December 2018. The full day forum brought together members from across the British advice and pro bono sector, courts and tribunals, government, the legal profession, universities (UK and abroad), charities, foundations and institutions to discuss the current state of the legal aid sector in the jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. The day saw some 20 different speakers as well as several in-depth breakout session in which divergent subjects such as funding, technology, the need for data collection and analysis, and the intersection between legal needs and mental health were discussed among the over 200 participants in more detail.

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Joint ERA-EJTN event: Consumer protection within Europe - the role of the national judge

On Thursday 29 November in Trier (Germany), Alexandre Biard presented latest policy discussions on ADR/ODR and collective redress in the EU to more than 50 judges and prosecutors coming from all over Europe. This took place in the context of the event ‘consumer protection within Europe – the role of the national judge when applying consumer rights and Law’, jointly organised by the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) and the Academy of European Law (ERA).

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Presentation at BICCL celebrating anniversaries

On 29 November 2018, Xandra Kramer joined in celebrating a tripple anniversary in London: 60 years BIICL, 50 years Brussels Regime,
60 years New York Convention. At this very interesting conference roundtables were organized around the Brussels Regime, Civil Justice Cooperation after Brexit and the New York Convention.

Xandra participated in the roundtable on the Brussels Regime, highlighting the achievements for businesses and citizens of this key instrument in international litigation.

Happy 60th anniversary BICCL!

Happy 50th anniversary Brussels Regime!

Happy 60th anniversary New York Convention!

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ELI Conference European Rules of Civil Procedure

On 27 November 2018, Xandra Kramer gave a brief presentation on the work of the Structure working group of the ELI-Unidroit project on European Rules of Civil Procedure. The work of this group is to consolidate the drafts of the different working groups in this project and to ensure the combined efforts result in a coherent set of European rules on ciil procedure.

This two-day conference in Trier was jointly organized by the European Law Institute and the European Law Institute to discuss topical issues and ongoing work of the project.

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Successful two-day conference on ‘Pathways to civil justice in Europe’

On 19-20 November 2018, the Challenge Accepted! Exploring Pathways to Civil Justice in Europe was held at the Erasmus School of Law. It was the second big event within our ERC consolidator project ‘Building EU Civil Justice’. With keynotes from Ruth de Bock (AG Supreme Court, NL) and Judith Resnik (Yale Law School, USA) and 4 panels with a total 17 speakers from the Netherlands, UK, Italy, Canada, France, Germany and Belgium (see the seminar flyer) the conference covered many issues surrounding civil justice innovations, including specialization of courts and judges, self-representation and the future of lawyers, the transformation of civil justice through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the practice of ADR/ODR schemes in different European countries.

With the broad variety of panelists as well as participants the conference managed to capture current and future issues in the ongoing transformation of civil justice around the world. With the conundrum of the ethical use of AI in adjudication, the general reduction in subsidized legal aid and the changing and often diminishing role for lawyers, the seemingly ever-expanding options for out-of-court and online dispute resolution schemes as well as current establishments of specialized international business courts, the discussions during the conference made clear just how timely questions about the current and future state of civil justice are.

Approximately 100 participants, including judges, practicing lawyers, academics, policy makers and business representatives, actively took part in the discussions. These discussions continued during the drinks and lunch where four selected PhD candidates presented their poster on a topic relating to civil justice issues.

Papers authored by the speakers and panelists will be published in an edited volume in 2019.

The seminar was organized by Erasmus School of Law (ERC project ‘Building EU Civil Justice’) of Erasmus University Rotterdam, with funding from the European Research Council.

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Conference: Challenge Accepted! Exploring Pathways to Civil Justice in Europe

19-20 November 2018

Access to civil justice is of paramount importance for enforcing rights of citizens and ensuring the rule of law. Key issues in the current efforts to improve access to justice at the EU and national levels regard the digitisation of justice and the use of artificial intelligence in dispute resolution, the privatisation of justice and the multiplication of alternative dispute resolution schemes, the increased possibility of self-representation, and the ever-increasing specialisation of court systems. Each of these trends greatly influences the emerging EU civil justice system but also raises a number of questions and doubts. On 19 and 20 November 2018, policymakers, practitioners, academics from all over Europe will meet in Rotterdam to exchange and reflect on innovating pathways to civil Justice. Together, we will work on defining a sustainable framework for a 21st century EU civil justice system.

The flyer can be found here. More information about the programme is available here.

Young researchers will also have the possibility to present and discuss their work during a Poster Presentation that will take place on Tuesday 20 November. Posters should focus on the topics of the conference, and show originality.

More information on submitting a poster proposal can be found here.

This conference is organised by Erasmus School of Law at Rotterdam University under the ERC project ‘Building EU Civil Justice’ (www.euciviljustice.eu).

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us at hoevenaars@law.eur.nl (Jos) or biard@law.eur.nl (Alexandre).

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Big Think on Justice

On invitation Xandra Kramer participated in the Big Think on Justice, organized by the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and The Pathfinders’ Task Force on Justice, taking place in the Hague on 15 November 2018. This meeting gathered justice experts from civil society and justice institutions to provide input to a Task Force report 2019 aiming to improve access to justice for all at a global scale. She contributed to the session on Innovating and Investing in Justice. This focused on the solutions that people need, strengthening local delivery, system innovation and overcoming institutional barriers.

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