The Review

January 2016 Issue


Law as Information in the Era of Data-Driven Agency

This contribution introduces the mathematical theory of information that ‘informs’ computer systems, the internet and all that has been built upon it. The aim of the author is to invite lawyers to reconsider the grammar and alphabet of modern positive law and of the Rule of Law, in the face of the alternative grammar and alphabet of a data-driven society. Instead of either embracing or rejecting the technological transitions that reconfigure the operations of the law, this article argues that lawyers should collaborate with the computer scientists that engineer and design the affordances of our new onlife world. This is crucial if we want to sustain democratic participation in law-making, contestability of legal effect and transparency of how citizens may be manipulated by the invisible computational backbone of our rapidly and radically changing world.

Mireille Hildebrandt

Is there an EU Copyright Jurisprudence? An Empirical Analysis of the Workings of the European Court of Justice

The Court of Justice of the European Union has seen a dramatic and controversial increase in copyright cases during the last decade. This study investigates empirically two claims: (i) that the Court has failed to develop a coherent copyright jurisprudence (lacking domain expertise, copyright specific reasoning, and predictability); (ii) that the Court has pursued an activist, harmonising agenda (resorting to teleological interpretation of European law). We analyse the allocation of copyright and database right cases by Chambers of the Court, Advocate General (AG) and Reporting Judge, and investigate the biographical background of the Judges and AGs sitting. We trace patterns of reasoning in the Court's approach through quantitative content analysis. Legal topoi that are employed in the opinions and decisions are linked to the outcomes of each case.

Marcella Favale, Martin Kretschmer and Paul C Torremans

Uses of Macro Social Theory: A Social Housing Case Study

This article reflects on the use of macro social theoretical perspectives to explain micro social issues, using social housing allocations as a case study. In contrast to a number of social theoretical examinations of social housing allocation schemes in recent years, spanning socio-legal studies, we argue that ‘cookie-cutter’ theories may overlook other positions and counter-factual scenarios. We draw on a sample of local authority allocation schemes to reflect on the growing category of households (commonly termed ‘unhouseables’ by housing officers) which are excluded from appearing on such schemes because of their former housing deviance or some other disqualification. We offer a set of reflections grounded in our data, which focus on sustainability. Thus, rather than point to particular rationalities or the like, we offer particular housing issues as explanatory factors – including the declining stock and financial ‘competitiveness’ of social housing management – as well as a rise in punitiveness.

Chris Bevan and Dave Cowan


The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 – Secure Colleges and the Legitimation of State Sponsored Violence

The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 empowers staff in secure colleges to subject young people in custody to dangerous force for the purpose of ensuring ‘good order and discipline’. The use of force to restrain young people in custody can cause serious physical injury, profound psychological damage and has contributed to the custodial deaths of two young people in 2004. Despite these dangers, in most youth custodial establishments the use of force remains high and has been increasing. The 2015 Act will further legitimise the use of coercive violence against vulnerable children, consequently sustaining the power imbalance between children and adults, diminishing the special status of childhood and violating the child's human rights. This comment considers the effectiveness of using force and argues that the deliberate infliction of pain should only be used as a last resort and exclusively to prevent harm to the child or others.

Raymond Arthur

Something Old, Something New: Recasting the European Insolvency Regulation

This paper critically evaluates the recasting of the European Insolvency Regulation - Regulation (EU) 2015/848 - in the context of the EU Europe 2020 growth strategy. According to the Council of Ministers, through the protection of creditors and the survival of business, the new legislation should contribute to the preservation of employment in these challenging times. The paper argues that worthwhile improvements have been made by extending the scope of the regulation; clarifying and confirming contentious areas of interpretation; smoothing the inter-relationship between main and secondary insolvency proceedings and improving information flows. But the overall effect is to enhance complexity. The recast Regulation carries the whiff of political compromise and, at times, seems to point in different directions at the same time.

Gerard McCormack


Kadi: King-Slayer or King-Maker? The Shifting Allocation of Decision-Making Power between the UN Security Council and Courts

This note analyses the twelve-year span of the Kadi litigation in the European courts. The litigation raises the textbook question of the relationship between international and municipal legal orders, yet demonstrates that it is high time to move the description of this relationship beyond the orthodox yet outdated monist/dualist dichotomy that was seen to provide the answer in less complicated times. The note examines the different approaches taken at the three key phases of the litigation: the ‘supremacy’ position adopted by the Court of First Instance in 2005, the ‘subversive’ approach of the European Court of Justice in 2008 and the ‘subsidiarity’ position of the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2013. Ultimately, the note invites attention to the ‘Solange equivalence’ approach taken by the Advocates-General and argues that this strikes the best balance in normative terms for an enduring approach to power-sharing between legal orders.

Devika Hovell

Black Spiders Weaving Webs: The Constitutional Implications of Executive Veto of Tribunal Determinations

In R (Evans) v Attorney General, the Supreme Court quashed the Attorney General's statutory veto of the Upper Tribunal's original determination made under freedom of information legislation. The Upper Tribunal had held that so-called ‘advocacy’ memos should be published after a full hearing on the merits. The Supreme Court split five to two, with the lead judgment of Lord Neuberger using constitutional rather than administrative language and focusing on the rule of law. This note raises four objections to the lead judgment. First, it argues that the Upper Tribunal was acting in an executive not judicial capacity and the veto was not therefore a breach of the rule of law. Secondly it suggests the veto clause is best understood as a variant Henry VIII clause. Thirdly, it suggests Lord Neuberger's judgment is founded on a paradox. Finally, it argues that the judgment undermines parliamentary sovereignty. Future implications are then considered.

Robert Craig

book reviews

Review of Virginia Mantouvalou (ed), The Right to Work: Legal and Philosophical Perspectives, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2015, 351 + xiv pp, hb £60.00.

Virginia Mantouvalou has assembled a remarkable collection of essays on the ‘right to work’ (RTW). The provenance, content, efficacy, future prospects and very existence of RTW are contested by many of her distinguished contributors. Moreover, while the subtitle of her volume promises readers a ‘legal and philosophical’ inquiry into RTW, Dr Mantouvalou has wisely allowed her contributors to stray into political economy, history, sociology and other disciplines. Heterodoxy sometimes robs edited volumes of their intellectual coherence, but in the case of The Right to Work, it turns out to be one of the book’s greatest attractions.

H W Arthurs

The Review

Published January 2016
Frequency Bi-Monthly
Volume 79
Issue 1
Print ISSN 0026-7961
Online ISSN 1468-2230

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