News

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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EU flag ERC logo

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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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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Legal Aid Reform in the Netherlands: Laspo 2.0?

On 9 November 2018, the Dutch Minister of Legal Protection Sander Dekker presented his plans for the overhaul of the Dutch system for subsidized legal aid. The proposal follows closely one of the aims of the current Dutch government to stimulate out-of-court dispute resolution, and steers significantly towards pre-judicial triage, (online) information and advice, and out-of-court settlement. Jos Hoevenaars draws a parallel between the proposed changes and previous reforms in in England and Wales following the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) of 2012 on conflictoflaws.net.

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New rules for ODR platforms: on-going policy discussions in France

In April 2018, the French government published a new draft legislation aimed at reforming and modernizing the French Justice system (Projet de loi de programmation 2018-2022 et de réforme pour la Justice). Among other things, the proposal is likely to trigger some significant changes in the French ADR/ODR landscape, and will have important consequences for the future development of the legaltech. Alexandre Biard reviews some of the key proposed changes on conflictoflaws.net.

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Dubai Conference ‘Court Excellence and Innovation: Today and Tomorrow 2018’

On 8 and 9 November, Emma van Gelder and Georgia Antonopoulou attended the Dubai Conference ‘Court Excellence and Innovation: Today and Tomorrow 2018’. The conference kicked off presenting the International Framework for Court Excellence. Can the success of courts as service providers be measured and if yes what should the criteria be? Courts’ best practices across different jurisdictions were presented and their potential to improve civil litigation was discussed. In light of the rise of cross-border disputes, the opportunities for courts across jurisdictions to collaborate and to establish partnerships so as to dispense ambiguity for future court users and to improve efficiency for enforcement proceedings were explored. The Memoranda of Guidance on the Recognition and Enforcement of Civil Judgements, that the Dubai International Financial Center Courts (DIFC) have signed with foreign courts, were used as an example of judicial cooperation across jurisdictions. Furthermore, judges of the DIFC Small Claims Tribunal and the Commercial Court of Dubai, drew upon their experience in dispute resolution. While the Small Claims Tribunal focuses on the rapid resolution of low value cases by increasingly making use of technology and alternative dispute resolution methods, the Commercial Court aims to accommodate international commercial disputes and contribute in establishing Dubai as an attractive investment destination. The subsequent panels centered on the use of technology in court administration and judicial decision making. In particular, the panelists considered the benefits and challenges of remote hearings, service via email or even social media and the use of artificial intelligence in the adjudication of cases. The role of the judiciary and the legal profession in the advent of online courts and the emergence of online dispute resolution platforms lead to an intriguing discussion that questioned current court practices.

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‘PhD in the Spotlight’ Video: Emma van Gelder

Emma van Gelder was invited to talk about her research and its importance in ‘PhD in the Spotlight' by the Erasmus School of Law (ESL). With the ‘PhD in the Spotlight’ videos, the ESL offers their viewers the chance to gain more insight into their PhD research projects, and to get to know tomorrow’s academic talent.

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Presentation on Globalizing Business Litigation

On 5 November 2018, Xandra Kramer gave a presentation in Bergen on globalizing business litigation. She discussed the role of arbitration and court litigation and business needs, developments at the Hague Conference on Private International Law and in particular the promising Hague Judgments Project, developments in Europe and the establishment of international business courts at the national level as well as the interaction between global, European and national regulation.

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Poster Presentation Workshop for PhD Candidates of the EGSL

On 30 October, Erlis Themeli together with Dirma Jansen organized a poster presentation workshop for PhD candidates of the Erasmus Graduate School of Law (EGSL). The workshop aims at helping participants to visualize their research, present it through imagery, and briefly describe it in 3-5 minutes. This workshop is part of the training that the EGLS provides to PhD candidates, and Erlis is often invited as a presenter and role model during this training.

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´PhD in the Spotlight´ Video: Georgia Antonopoulou

Georgia Antonopoulou was invited to talk about her research and its importance in ‘PhD in the Spotlight' by the Erasmus School of Law (ESL). With the ‘PhD in the Spotlight’ video´s, the ESL offers their viewers the chance to gain more insight into their PhD research projects, and to get to know tomorrow’s academic talent.

 

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Presentation on the Challenges of e-Evidence

Between 17 and 20 October, Xandra Kramer and Erlis Themeli attended an international conference on evidence in the judicial process organized by the Iberoamerican Institute of Procedural Law and the International Association of Procedural Law. Xandra Kramer presented a paper on the current problems and future challenges of e-Evidence. It discusses technology as the big game changer in the taking of evidence, the use of electronic documents, and the role of social media and electronic devices. It zooms in on e-discovery and disclosure and technology assisted review, the reliability, authentication and admissability of e-evidence, and the interpretation and evaluation of e-evidence, including social media and the use of emoticons and emojis. At the end of the conference day, by way of tribute to Prof. Marcel Storme who passed away in April of this year, she presented a video including a collection of pictures and quotes, and arranged for a singing tribute.

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The Future of Harmonization of Civil Procedure in Europe

On 4 October, Xandra Kramer gave a presentation on the future of the harmonization of civil procedure in Europe at the European Civil Procedure Conference in Milan. She discussed the overriding aims of EU Civil Justice (improving access to justice), the dangers of the multi-regulatory system, the interaction between national and European civil procedure, ongoing harmonization project (including the ELI-Unidroit Rulesl of European Civil Procedure), and the big challenges in the harmonization of civil procedure in Europe, including the question of how far Europeanization can and should go.

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Moderating Austrian Council Presidency Meeting Private International Law

On 1 October 2018, Xandra Kramer moderated a meeting on the Role of the European Union in Private International Law, organised by the Austrian EU Council Presidency at the Austrian Embassy in The Hague. The speakers were Christophe Bernasconi, Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, and Robert Fucik, Director of the Department for International Family Law of the Federal Ministry of Justice of Austria. The goal of this meeting was to raise awareness on the importance of private international law in the European Union. The discussion focused on the global perspective and the role of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the achievements of European Private International Law and the dialogue between the Hague Conference and the EU.

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Presentation 50th Anniversary of European Civil Procedure

On 28 September, Xandra Kramer gave a presentation at conference hosted by the European Court of Justice and the MPI Luxembourg celebrating the 50th anniversary of the European Law of Civil Procedure in Luxembourg, entitled 'The application of the European law of civil procedure in the dialogue between the CJEU and national courts.' She discussed the multi-regulation and multi-methodology of European civil procedure and the impact on the application by national courts and the dialogue between the CJEU and national courts as institutionalized by the preliminary reference procedure on the basis of statistics on the area of freedom, security and justice, and civil matters in particular. These show the huge differences between the Member States. For example, Germany alone referred more cases to the CJEU than did the nineteen Member States with the combined lowest rates. She gave recommendations on how the the dialogue can be improved.

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Presentation at iCourts in Copenhagen

On September 21st, Jos Hoevenaars was invited to present his work on the European Court of Justice and the preliminary reference procedure at the workshop ‘Studying EU Law and the European Court of Justice – New Approaches and Methodologies’ organized by Professors Jan Komarek, Mikael Rask Madsen and Antoine Vauchez. As the title suggest the workshop was aimed at bringing together researchers in the field of EU studies who employ innovative methodologies in studying the European Court of Justice (ECJ). His contribution, which focused on a bottom-up approach to litigation before the ECJ, will be part of an edited volume to be published in 2019.

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Presentation at the ELI Annual Conference in Riga

On 6 September, Xandra Kramer gave a presentation on the ELI/Unidroit Rules of European Civil Procedure at the Annual Conference of the European Law Institute in Riga. She gave an overview of the work and progress of the Structure group that has the task to compile the drafts of the working groups, to ensure coherence and to fill gaps. 

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Presentation at SLS Conference 2018

On 7 September 2018, Emma van Gelder gave a presentation together with Alina Ontanu at the SLS Conference 2018 at Queen Mary University, London. Their presentation was entitled 'A Consumers' Crisis in EU Civil Procedure' and held within the panel 'Law in Troubled Times'. The presentation explored pathways to ensure consumer access to justice in the EU internal market.

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Summer Courses the Hague Academy

This summer Georgia Antonopoulou (ERC PhD candidate) and Priskila Penasthika attended the Hague Academy courses on Private International Law. Expanding over three weeks, the summer courses consisted of lectures given by ‘great’ names of public and private international law. While Prof. Ruth Okediji from Harvard Law School captivatingly lectured on the international aspects of intellectual property law, Prof. Marc-Philippe Weller from Heidelberg University unraveled the ‘tripartite’ method of international private law. In addition, during the PhD meetings, Georgia and Priskila introduced their research to fellow participants and exchanged ideas on their topics. Last but not least, Georgia and Priskila enjoyed the international environment of the summer courses where students, legal practitioners and academics from more than 100 countries gathered under the roof of the historic Peace Palace.

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Successful seminar Innovating International Business Courts

On 10 July 2018, the seminar Innovating International Business Courts: A European Outlook was held at the Erasmus School of Law. It was the first big event within our ERC consolidator project Building EU Civil Justice. In total five speakers and seven panellists from the Netherlands, England, France, Germany and Belgium discussed their existing and recently established international commercial courts or initiatives to establish such a court of court chamber (see the seminar flyer).

The sometimes heated debates evolved around the need to establish such courts for international business, the court design and procedural innovations, using English as the court language, the challenges for the judicial system, and the (potential) competitiveness of these courts, also in view of the exit of the UK from the EU as well as the need for collaboration in Europe. Approximately 100  participants from almost twenty European and other countries (including China, South Korea, Iran, and the United States), including judges, practising lawyers, academics, policy makers and business representatives, actively took part in the discussions. These discussions continued during the drinks where four selected PhD candidates presented their poster on a topic relating to international commercial courts.

Papers authored by the speakers and a number of additional papers, selected following a call for papers, will be published in the Erasmus Law Review mid-2019. In addition, a book will be prepared for publication in 2019. Both will not only cover the recent European developments but will take a global perspective.

The seminar was organised by Erasmus School of Law (ERC project ‘Building EU Civil Justice’) of Erasmus University Rotterdam, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Procedural Law Luxembourg, and the Montaigne Centre for Rule of Law and Judicial Administration (Utrecht University).

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Presentation at 3rd IAPL-MPI 2018 Summer School in Luxembourg

Alexandre Biard (ERC postdoc) and Alina Ontanu participated in the 3rd IAPL-MPI Summer School entitled Privatizing Dispute Resolution and Its Limits that took place from July 1-4 in Luxembourg. Alexandre presented evidence that he collected on the impact of the Consumer ADR Directive on the quality of ADR entities in several EU Member States. Alina pleaded for a more comprehensive framework covering both court and out-of-court procedures so as to facilitate consumers’ access to justice in cross-border litigation. Presentations were followed by fruitful discussions with participants coming from all over the world. A book including all contributions will be published in early 2019.

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Seminar International Business Courts 10 July

On 10 July 2018, a seminar will be held on international business courts. On 1 July 2018, or soon thereafter, the Netherlands Commercial Court is expected to open its doors, while in a number of other Member States similar initiatives are being undertaken or a specialized commercial court is firmly rooted already. These courts are of significant importance to international business litigation, offering tailor-made procedures (including the option to litigate in the English language) and providing an alternative to arbitration.

Eminent speakers from the Netherlands, England, France, Germany and Belgium will discuss these initiatives, the novelties in the court administration and  procedural rules, exchange views on the impact on international commercial and complex litigation, and reflect on the challenges ahead. The seminar will bring together practitioners, academics, business representatives and policy makers from European countries and beyond.

The flyer can be found here. More information on the programme and registration is available here. We have many registrations from all over the world already. Please register as soon as possible. 

The seminar is jointly organised by Erasmus School of Law (ERC project ‘Building EU Civil Justice’) of Erasmus University Rotterdam, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Procedural Law Luxembourg, and the Montaigne Centre for Rule of Law and Judicial Administration (Utrecht University).

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ERC team chairing at A2J conference at UCL and court visit London

From 11 June till 13 June, Xandra, Erlis, Georgia and Emma attended the UCL International Conference on Access to Justice and Legal Services in London, hosted by Centre for Empirical Legal Studies. Participants included international researches, policy makers and legal service professionals and came from all across the world from Brazil to the USA and from Australia to Norway.

Xandra chaired two sessions. The first was on litigants in person, including from the UK and the US on how to support litigants in person and and about pro se litigation in US federal courts. The second one was on ‘Legal aid eligibility’, including presentations on the assessment of the merits of the case in legal aid under ECHR case law and a comparative analysis on eligibility criteria. Erlis chaired a session on ‘Profession’. The panel included presentations on a pilot for specialist legal aid panels in Taiwan, and on an economic analysis of the benefits of early legal advice. The panels led to evolving discussions and insights on how other countries worldwide deal with access to justice issues and provided the opportunity to enter into dialogue on recent developments and innovations. We gained much inspiration and made interesting connections which we will use to build further on our EU civil justice project.

We also made use of our stay to visit the Royal Courts, where we had a very fruitful meeting with Sir Ryder (Senior President of Tribunals) to aid our empirical research in England.

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Team coached by ERC members make it to finals in PIL moot

Three ERC members (Xandra Kramer, Erlis Themeli and Georgia Antonopoulou) in collaboration with other members of our department (Alina Ontanu, Marta Kolacz, Priskila Penasthika) coached the Erasmus Law School team in the Pax Moot Court on Private International Law.

In this picture our students Despoina Mouridi, Melvin Hanswijk, Benedicte Mourisse and Emma Ustunalp (from right to left) are happily posing to Xandra’s photographic lens before the Peace Palace in The Hague. They have just won the second place in the finals.

These four students were selected to represent ESL in the first global Pax Moot competition. Together with their coaches they the students studied and intensively prepared the ‘case’. It concerned a civil action claiming damages for environmental damage in Bolivia allegedly caused by a Dutch group of companies. Furthermore, the ‘case’ involved parallel proceedings before different EU courts, investment arbitration proceedings, and raised issues of collective actions before the Dutch courts.

On 22 May 2018, the ESL Pax Moot Court team visited the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris and pleaded against the team representing the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Following the successful preliminary round in Paris, the team won the semi-finals against Paris I Sorbonne in The Hague. In the finals the Erasmus team encountered the Sciences Po students. Both teams pleaded for the first prize with creativity and inspiring enthusiasm. As the presiding moot judge (Hans van Loon, former Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law) explained, after long deliberations the scale finally tipped in favour of our French opponents. Nevertheless, our students Melvin Hanswijk and Despoina Mouridi received special commendations from the jury for their pleading skills and Melvin was offered an internship with the law firm NautaDutilh. We would like to thank the students for their remarkable effort and commitment, and hope that this moot experience will remain a beautiful memory helpful for their future career. It was great coaching you!

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Annual review day EGSL

On 31 May, Georgia Antonopoulou and Emma van Gelder participated in the annual Review day, organized by the Erasmus Graduate School of Law. During this event all first year PhD researchers had the opportunity to present their research to the academic staff. Georgia and Emma gave a pitch on their PhD research on international commercial courts and ODR, followed by a discussion. All in all, it was an inspiring review day! The formal evaluation of the first year accomplishments will follow in the next months.

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Presentations on European Rules of Civil Procedure

Xandra Kramer gave two presentations at a conference on Harmonization of Civil Procedure in Europe in Dubrovnik on 28 and 29 May 2018. 

The first one focused on the EU civil justice agenda and the ELI-Unidroit project on European Rules of Civil Procedure as a model for Europe. The second presentation discussed the work on provisional measures within this project and its potential for a European approach to provisional relief in the national and cross-border context. 

 

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PIL moot team supervised by ERC team to finals

Several members of the ERC team (Georgia Antonopoulou, Xandra Kramer and Erlis Themeli) together with other members of the private law department (in particular Alina Ontanu, Marta Kolacz and Priskila Penasthika) supervised the Erasmus moot team competing in the private international law Pax Moot organized by Sciences Po Paris. The elimination round took place at the ICC in Paris on 22 May 2018 and the Erasmus team made it to the finals. Congratulations to our mooties (FLTR) Emma Ustunalp, Benedicte Mourisse, Despoina Mouridi (lead counsel in Paris), and Melvin Hanswijk!

The problem concerned a climate change case adressing a range of complex transnational litigation issues. The final round will take place at the Peace Peace in the Hague on 1 June 2018.

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Presentation ODR and AI at expert group meeting AI and legal decision-making

Xandra Kramer gave a talk at the Expert group meeting on the use of AI in legal decision-making organized by Erlis Themeli on 24 May 2018. It focused on online dispute resolution as a stepping stone to artificial decision-making in the judiciary. Developments at the European level and in the Netherlands were discussed.

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Expert group meeting on the use of AI in legal decision-making

On 24 May 2018 an expert roundtable took place at the Erasmus University Rotterdam entitled ‘The use of artificial intelligence in legal decision-making’. This Roundtable was organized by Dr. Erlis Themeli, Dr. Stefan Philipsen, and Prof. Evert Stamhuis with the support of the Erasmus Initiative Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity. The experts attending the event came from the legal practice, government, academia, and ICT sector. The aim of the roundtable was to map the developments in and research on the use of AI in legal decision-making, and to outline a research agenda for the near future. Prof. Stefano Puntoni (Rotterdam School of Management) and Prof. Xandra Kramer were invited to provide some ‘food for thought’ for the participants and to contribute to the discussion.

AI is one the frontiers of the digitalization of justice. It has the potential to increase access to justice and to improve the position of vulnerable parties. However, AI remains complex and its use in the application of justice carries the risk of creating a ‘black-box’ without transparency or accountability. As was pointed out in the Roundtable, the use of AI in legal decision-making creates legal, economic, as well as ethical dilemmas. What would happen if the judge is a machine? Is there a right to a human judge? What is the added value of a human judge? Is it possible to fully comprehend the decisions of a machine? These questions form the outline of a future research agenda into the use of AI in legal decision-making.

Considering the success of the event, the organizers plan to develop a theoretical framework and to design an empirical research on the reception of automated decision-making by court users.

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Call for papers on International Business Courts (ELR)

Erasmus School of Law (under the ERC project Building EU Civil Justice) in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Procedural Law Luxembourg, and the Montaigne Centre for Rule of Law and Administration of Justice (Utrecht University), hosts the seminar ‘Innovating International Business Courts: A European Outlook’ that will take place in Rotterdam on 10 July 2018.

In relation thereto Erasmus Law Review invites submissions for its upcoming special issue on International Business Courts – A European and Global Perspective on topics relating to court specialization, specifically relating to the development of international business courts in Europe and beyond, and focusing on justice innovation and their relevance for access to justice and the judicial system, including the challenges they may pose for judicial administration, litigants and other stakeholders. Contributions can be theoretical, empirical as well as policy oriented. Interdisciplinary approaches are especially encouraged. The issue will also include papers focusing on the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (England and Wales), France, Germany, and deriving from the seminar.

Authors of selected papers will be exempt from registration fees for the seminar and will have the opportunity to present a poster during the drinks after the seminar.

Please submit an abstract in English of no more than 500 words to Erlis Themeli (themeli@law.eur.nl) and Alexandre Biard (biard@law.eur.nl) before 10 June 2018. Include your name, affiliation, and a link to your research profile. You will be informed on the outcome on 24 June 2018 at the latest. Responsible issue editors are Xandra Kramer (Erasmus University Rotterdam/Utrecht University) and John Sorabji (University College, London).

The final paper should be 8,000-12,000 words in length (including footnotes) and must comply with the Erasmus Law Review’s Authors Guidelines. Selected papers will go through the regular double-blind peer review process and publication is subject to the outcome of this review process. The deadline for submission of the paper is 1 October 2018.

For more information see the Call for Papers.

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Presenting at ADR Conference organised by Leicester University, May 2018

On 10 May 2018, Emma van Gelder and Alexandre Biard presented their work-in-progress at the ADR Conference that took place at Leicester University, England. The conference dealt with new approaches to ADR. Within the panel ‘designing and implementing ODR in Europe’, Emma presented her paper on ‘Private Initiatives Supporting (court) Digitization in the Netherlands: Sparking Controversy!’ She focused on private ODR tools in the Netherlands. She took the so-called ‘e-Court’ initiative as a case study. She identified the main criticisms and drew more general lessons for the broader practice of private ODR systems. Alexandre presented a paper entitled ‘Promise Kept? Impact of Directive 2013/11/EU on ADR Quality', within the panel ‘comparative perspectives on consumer ADR’. He highlighted the effects of the 2013 Consumer ADR Directive on the quality of ADR schemes in several Member States, including France, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

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Presenting at Cyberjustice Workshop in Bologna

Xandra Kramer presented on online dispute resolution ('ODR: Advancing Digital Justice in Europe and some lessons from the Netherlands) at a Cyberjustice workshop organized by CNR-IRSIG in Bologna on 10 May 2018.

The presentation focused on the EU digital agenda, the policy to encourage and facilitate the use of ICT in various instruments on cross-border litigation, and the first year of experience with the ODR platform. In addition, she addressed the present situation in the Netherlands, the ambitious agenda to implement digitisation within the context of the Quality and Innnovation of Justice Program, and the recent problems encountered. See also our news item on the deadlock in the digitisation of the Dutch judiciary.

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Seminar International Business Courts - registration is open

On 10 July 2018, a seminar will be held on international business courts. On 1 July 2018, the Netherlands Commercial Court will open its doors, while in a number of other Member States similar initiatives are being undertaken or a specialized commercial court is firmly rooted already. These courts are of significant importance to international business litigation, offering tailor-made procedures (including the option to litigate in the English language) and providing an alternative to arbitration. Eminent speakers from the Netherlands, England, France, Germany and Belgium will discuss these initiatives, the novelties in the court administration and  procedural rules, exchange views on the impact on international commercial and complex litigation, and reflect on the challenges ahead. The seminar will bring together practitioners, academics, business representatives and policy makers from different Member States.

The flyer can be found here. More information on the programme and registration is available here.

The seminar is jointly organised by Erasmus School of Law (ERC project ‘Building EU Civil Justice’) of Erasmus University Rotterdam, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Procedural Law Luxembourg, and the Montaigne Centre for Rule of Law and Judicial Administration (Utrecht University).

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Deadlock in digitisation Dutch judiciary

A few weeks ago, alarming messages appeared in the Dutch media, stating that the digitisation of justice project in the Netherlands had failed, and that the project would be discontinued. Concerns about the QAI digitisation project have been in evidence over a longer period, mainly regarding delays in the implementation and the costs. The Minister of Legal Protection adjusted the decision of the Council for the Judiciary to reset QAI, stating that the QAI was frozen. Further discussions with the Council to ensure that certain basic safeguards are in place have to be awaited. In this blogpost, Emma van Gelder and Xandra Kramer highlight key issues underlying what seems to be a crisis in the digitisation of justice in the Netherlands, and discuss the way forward.

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Save the date: Seminar Innovating International Business Courts

On 10 July 2018, a seminar will be held on the establishment of international business courts in a number of Member States. It aims to discuss these initiatives, in particular the novelties in the court administration and the procedural rules; to exchange views on the possible impact on international commercial and complex litigation; and to reflect on the challenges ahead. The seminar will bring together practitioners, academics, business representatives and policy makers from different Member States.

The seminar is organised by Erasmus School of Law (ERC project ‘Building EU Civil Justice’) of Erasmus University Rotterdam, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Procedural Law Luxembourg, and the Montaigne Centre for Judicial Administration and Conflict Resolution (Utrecht University)

More information will follow soon.  

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In Memoriam: Prof. dr. Marcel Storme

On 30 March 2018, at the age of 87, Prof. Marcel Storme passed away in his beloved home city of Ghent. Over and above his many other professional capacities, he was primarily professor emeritus of civil procedure at the University of Ghent, and honorary president of the International Association of Procedural Law. His visionary work in the field of civil procedure and his passion for the harmonisation of procedural laws in Europe remain of immeasurable value.

Professor Storme, in my 2012 inaugural lecture, I called you one of the founding fathers of European civil procedure, and referred to your ‘cathedral builder’s dream’ (Riksumeikan Law Review, 2005). In the same lecture, I also thanked you for being a tremendous source of inspiration. And that is precisely what you have been, and will continue to be. From the beginning, you supported me every step of the way along the path of my career − sometimes visibly and other times behind the scenes. You were present at my inaugural lectures in Rotterdam and Leuven, and at the procedural law conferences I organised in Rotterdam; and you were never more than an email away whenever I needed to call upon you. You were so proud when the endowed chair on European civil procedure − now merged with a permanent chair within the private law department − was established in Rotterdam. I cherish the collection of mostly handwritten letters, the kind notes in the books and paper extracts you gave to me, and every occasion of your personal encouragement over the years. You wrote that not only do I fuel the flame of European civil procedure but academically I also keep it burning.

Dear Professor Storme, dear Marcel, together with my ERC team and our wonderful group of international colleagues and friends (your 'biotope'), I will keep alive your dream of building upon civil justice in Europe. Thank you so much for all you have done for me and for so many others. I can end this tribute in no other way than in the four languages you used so easily and interchangeably in your talks: rest in peace – repose en paix – rust in vrede – ruhe in frieden.

Xandra Kramer

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PhD Defence Erlis Themeli: The Great Race of Courts

On 23 March, Erlis Themeli defended his thesis "The Great Race of Courts, Civil Justice System Competition in the European Union" at the Erasmus School of Law. His study focuses on the civil justice system competition in the EU, a form of regulatory competition in which states try to attract parties to litigate in their jurisdictions. Building on an interdisciplinary methodology, his study offers an in-depth theoretical and empirical research analysing the competition currently taking place between civil justice systems. It focuses in particular on the motivations and attitudes of governments and litigants, and presents the findings of a survey conducted with lawyers from the largest law firms in Europe. Erlis Themeli is working on the postdoc project Digitalisation of Civil Justice (eJustice).

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PhD Defence Jos Hoevenaars: A People’s Court?

On 19 March, Jos Hoevenaars succesfully defended his PhD thesis "A People's Court? A Bottom-Up Approach to Litigation before the European Court of Justice" at the Radbout University Nijmegen. His research focused on the role of individual litigation before the Court of Justice of the European Union, uncovering the (im)possibilities of the empowerment of citizens through EU law. By focusing specifically on the practicalities of ‘Eurolitigation' through the preliminary reference procedure this study aims to open the ‘black box' of Eurolitigation and to give a critical examination of the possibilities of citizen empowerment through EU law. Jos Hoevenaars is working on the postdoc project Self-Representation in Civil Justice.

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This one is next: the Netherlands Commercial Court!

On 8 March, the bill on the establishment of the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC) was passed by the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer). The bill is now scheduled for rubber-stamping by the Senate (Eerste Kamer) on 27 March 2018. The NCC is expected to open its doors on 1 July 2018 or shortly after. Xandra Kramer, Erlis Themeli and Georgia Antonopoulou prepared a short post (and update) for conflictoflaws.net, which has also been published on the website on European Civil Procedure. The establishment of the NCC is particularly important for the subproject Court Specialization, which is conducted by Georgia Antonopoulou.

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Court systems and private international law

On 2 March Xandra Kramer gave a talk at a conference in Berlin on 'How European is European Private International Law?'. She focused on the how the judicial infrastructure can contribute to the application of European private international law rules, using among others aggregated statistics on the number of preliminary questions of national courts in the Member States and an inventory among experts and stakeholders in a number of Member States. One of the issues addressed was the rise of international commercial courts, in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany in particular, as is studied in depth by Georgia Antonopoulou in our ERC project. These courts are, however, not established with a view to facilitating the proper application of EU private international law rules.

Whereas specialized courts, special chambers within courts, specialised judges, court experts, judicial training, formal (e.g. EJN) and informal networks are useful to improve the application of these rules, it should be realized that in many courts these rules are only relevant in relatively a small number of cases, and measures should be cost-effective not to burden the available court budget. In addition, reflection is necessary as to the role of European private international law in view of current developments and  the political and social climate in the EU. 

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Presenting at the Self-Represented Litigation Network Conference

Xandra Kramer and Jos Hoevenaars participated in the second annual Self-Represented Litigation Network Conference in San Francisco on 22-23 February. They co-hosted a panel on determining best practices and the intersection of research methodologies, and presented the ERC project () to a broad American audience of members of the SRLN network. The panel, co-hosted by Renee Danser (Deputy Director of the SRLN network), Erika Rickard (Associate Director of Field Research, Access to Justice Lab, Harvard Law School) and Jamie Gamble (Program Director, National Center for Access to Justice) focused on the US ‘Justice Index’ and included an interactive discussion on pros, cons and complementarities of approaches to determining and measuring best practices with regard to access to justice, as well as approaches to Access to justice across the Atlantic.

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International Commercial Courts in Europe – A chain reaction?

In early February 2018, the French Minister of Justice inaugurated the International Commercial Chamber of the Paris Court of Appeals. This Chamber will handle disputes arising from international commercial contracts. More importantly, parties may use English in front of the court. Georgia Antonopoulou and Erlis Themeli prepared a short post for the ‘Conflict of Laws’ where they provide a brief overview on this new event. Furthermore, they reflect on similar developments in other Member States, and question whether or not we are in front of a domino effect and which Member State will take a similar step.

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Self-Represented Litigation Network - Access to Justice Across the Atlantic

Xandra Kramer and Jos Hoevenaars will host a panel at the Self-Represented Litigation Network Conference 2018 in San Francisco on 22-23 February. This part of our research, primarily conducted by Jos, will scrutinize self-representation trends against the backdrop of access to justice. It focuses on how self-representation changes procedural dynamics between courts and parties as well as the repercussions for the effectiveness of litigation and procedural justice as components of access to justice. The panel, with a roundtable format, aims to bring together researchers and practitioners from different jurisdictions, to foster cross-Atlantic ties and collaborations, and provides an opportunity for the exchange of insights and experiences. Join us in San Francisco on 23 February!

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e-Court in the Netherlands

Recently, there has been a lot of criticism on e-Court including in a recent Dutch television program ‘Nieuwsuur’. E-Court is a private initiative of online dispute resolution in the Netherlands. Emma van Gelder wrote a blogpost on e-Court, in which she acknowledges and discusses the criticism. Next to the criticism, she sets out the key benefits of a system of online dispute resolution.

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Conference on the Development of Consumer ADR

On 9 January 2018, Alexandre Biard participated in a conference hosted by the French energy Ombudsman (Médiateur de l’énergie) with key stakeholders from European and French consumer ADR sectors: representatives of the Commission d’Evaluation et de Contrôle de la Médiation (the authority in charge of certifying and supervising consumer ADR providers in France), various European ombudsmen and mediators, consumers associations, officials from the Ministry of Justice, and academics.

Together, they reviewed and assessed the development of consumer ADR, two years after the implementation of the Consumer ADR Directive in France, and drew some comparisons with the experience acquired in several other Member States.

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Xandra Kramer joins board Netherlands International Law Review


On 1 January 2018, Xandra Kramer joined the editing board of the Netherlands International Law Review (NILR). NILR was established in 1953 and is one of the world’s leading journals in the fields of public and private international law that publishes peer-reviewed, innovative and challening articles.

A few months earlier, after nine years, she stepped back as the editor-in-chief of the Dutch journal Nederlands Internationaal Privaatrecht, but she continues to be a member of the editorial board.
 

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Publication of ‘From Common Rules to Best Practices in European Civil Procedure’

In December, the book ‘From common rules to best practices in European Civil Procedure’ was published, edited by Professors Burkhard Hess and Xandra Kramer. The book is the result of a concluding five year grant project by Xandra Kramer (PI), provided under  the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme Vidi grant of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Part of the papers is also important as a point of departure for the current project, in particular part II on E-Justice and part III on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in the context of judicial cooperation.

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Functioning of the ODR Platform: EU Commission Publishes First Results

On 13 December 2017, the European Commission published a report on the functioning of the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform for consumer disputes, and the findings of a web-scraping exercise of EU traders’ websites investigating traders’ compliance with their information obligations vis-à-vis consumers. Emma van Gelder and Alexandre Biard wrote a blogpost detailing key results.

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Presentations on digitalizing justice at Ius Commune Conference

On 24 November 2017, Xandra Kramer, Emma van Gelder and Erlis Themeli presented their work on the digitalization of justice at the Ius Commune Conference (workshop on civil procedure). The presentation prepared by Erlis focused on general aspects of the digitalization of justice. Xandra discussed the digitalization resulting from the Dutch Quality and Innovation of Justice program. Emma concluded with a presentation on Online Dispute Resolution, discussing private initiatives on digitalization in out-of-court dispute resolution and developments at the EU level concerning ADR/ODR. Subsequently, Xandra and Emma participated in a panel discussion, receiving interesting questions from the audience and resulting in vivid discussions generating fruitful insights.

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Digitalisation in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is one of the pioneers in digitalisation worldwide. Next to the implementation of the Quality and Innovation project (KEI) within the courts, digitalisation is increasingly taking place in out-of-court dispute resolution. Emma van Gelder discusses two well-known examples of private initiatives of digitalisation in the Netherlands and subsequently assesses the online tools against the background of access to justice.

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Establishment of the Advisory Board

Our advisory board has been established. The members are prof. dr. Burkhard Hess (Heidelberg University), prof. dr. Christopher Hodges (University of Oxford), prof. dr. Peter Mascini (Erasmus University Rotterdam), prof. dr. Elisabetta Silvestri (University of Pavia), dr. John Sorabji (University College London) and prof. dr. Sebastian Spinei (Lucian Blaga University). The advisory board will offer expertise on national law and specific topics of our research, and will support in the design and implementation of empirical research where necessary.

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ERC project discussed at Queen Mary University London

On 22 November 2017, Xandra Kramer and Jos Hoevenaars presented the ERC project at the Erasmus-Queen Mary Dialogues meeting at Queen Mary University London. Xandra presented the background, objectives, and challenges of the project. Jos zoomed in on his postdoc project on self-representation, benefitting from two meetings he had with English experts on the day before. We received valuable feedback from commentator Eva Nanopoulos (Queen Mary) and other participants.

 

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A2J and Navigating the Maze of the Law

Xandra Kramer and Christoph Engel (ESL; Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods) presented their ideas for a vignette study on how laypeople navigate the maze of the law at Erasmus School of Law on 16 November 2017. The study aims 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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Publication of the Encyclopedia of Private International Law

The Encyclopedia of Private International Law has been published. The encyclopedia is written by 181 authors from 57 countries and among them is Xandra Kramer, who authored a part on Legal Aid, which is an important subject for Access to Justice. 

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Presentation Eurojuris International

On 14 October, Xandra Kramer gave a lecture and workshop for members of the EUROJURIS INTERNATIONAL Litigation, ADR & Contracts Practice Group, on the ocassion of the 25th anniversary of Eurojuris (a leading network of law firms) in Brussels. She presented new developments in the area of international commercial litigation and ADR in Europe and discussed the consequences of Brexit for international litigation in Europe.

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Presentations collective redress at European Law Academy

On 12 October, two team members presented on collective redress at the annual consumer conference at the European Law Academy in Trier. Alexandre Biard presented a paper on the Recommendation on collective redress and the upcoming evaluation. Xandra Kramer gave a talk on Dutch collective settlements and the pending bill on collective compensatory actions, and chaired a lively round table discussion on safeguards to avoid abuse of collective redress mechanisms in the EU.

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Opinion on Netherlands Commercial Court in financial newspaper FD

Xandra Kramer in collaboration with Eddy Bauw (professor at the Universities of Utrecht and Amsterdam) published an opinion in the Dutch financial newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad (FD) on the Netherlands Commercial Court. Providing counter arguments to an opinion published in the FD of last week, it contends that generally this initiative should be welcomed as it equips the court better to offer high quality and more tailor-made justice. The bill to establish this specialized chamber of the Amsterdam District court is currently pending in Parliament. It aims to facilitate the handling of complex, commercial and international cases, among others by allowing parties to choose English as the language of the litigation.

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Dutch collective redress dangerous? A call for a more nuanced approach

Recently, the Dutch approach to the resolution of mass claims, including the Mass Claim Settlement Act (WCAM), has been criticised by the US ILR for failing to comply with the European Commission’s 2013 Recommendation on Collective Redress, and therefore being particularly prone to abuses. In response to this, Xandra Kramer and Alexandre Biard in collaboration with Ilja Tillema wrote a blogpost calling for a more nuanced approach, and stressed that it remains of the utmost importance that both drawbacks and benefits of collective redress mechanism be thoroughly addressed and assessed.

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Pathways to empirical legal research

The ERC team had the opportunity to further explore the use of empirical methodologies in legal research and its relevance in the context of the ERC project. On 22 September 2017, Georgia Antonopoulou and Emma van Gelder attended the Ius Commune Empirical Legal Research Workshop organized at Maastricht University, where they discussed and exchanged ideas with empirical legal experts on key topics concerning empirical research relevant to the project, including data gathering and data interpretation. On 26 September Alexandre Biard and Emma van Gelder attended a guest lecture at Leuven University, where they further considered the relevance of empirics when applied to the ADR sector during a guest lecture given by Professor Deborah Hensler from Stanford University.

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Kick-off meeting EGSL for PhD researchers

On 21 September 2017, the kick-off meeting of Erasmus Graduate School of Law (EGSL) of Erasmus School of Law took place where Emma van Gelder and Georgia Antonopoulou introduced themselves and their research projects. During this first year they will follow research-related courses to guide them in their PhD research.

Erlis Themeli was a panel member exchanging experiences and good practices on how to successfully pursue a PhD research.

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Presentation ERC project at BACT annual meeting

On 21 September 2017, Xandra Kramer presented the ERC project and all team members introduced their subproject at the annual meeting of the multi-disciplinary and international research program BACT at Erasmus School of Law. The synergies with projects of other researchers within the program  strengthens the ERC research.

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