Tuesday, 27 February 2018

How to research, even when it’s dynamic

In a previous blog on the 15th of January I wrote about how the Legal Research Master's is a medium to see law from three perspectives; philosophical, methodological and practical. In this blog I discuss the Dynamics of law courses –the practical aspect of the LRM. But what does this word “Dynamics” entail in a legal context? 

Dynamics simply implies the interaction, challenges and connectivity of and among legal orders. Thus, the central issue of each dynamics course is the legal intertwining of the national, European and international legal orders in a specific field of law. In other words, how do legal orders interact in a given situation? Do they interact in a hierarchical or in a horizontal way in a given situation? Which order dominates? Does the international legal order or law constitute a highest norm, since it regulates the relationship between states and international organizations around the world? Or are the states, represented by their national legal orders and state sovereignty, constituting the highest norm or the source of all orders? What is the role of European law and institutions as a middle order between the national and international orders, especially when it contradicts International Law?  

Overall, there are three Dynamics courses. Each Dynamics course focuses on certain aspects; in the first block we started with the dynamics of constitutional and administrative law, the second was the dynamics of criminal law and human rights and currently we are diving into the dynamics of private law. In these courses, words like globalization, trans-national, Europeanization, harmonization, unification, convergence, divergence, etcetera are closely tackled. To my mind this is a thrilling legal discourse and an essential skill to any person who looks forward to being a legal researcher. In my experience, applying and writing about the coexistence of these legal orders is a vital activity in a dynamic fast world full of technology, legal development and globalization.

Now I pay attention to the presence of these dynamics. First of all, International law influences states in many occasions such as treaty law, jus cognes customary norms, UN binding resolutions and the case law of the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. Similarly, the European order is yet another legal order that influences a big number of European states. The role of the EU legal order in these dynamics is manifested in norms and principles such as direct effect, effectiveness, primacy, etc. These have implications on the national legal orders of the EU member states –and in some occasions other states. Though, national legal orders are able to push back as they still possess a respective protected legal identity and culture, sovereignty and autonomy in applying law in its territory.

Ultimately, even when conducting a seemingly domestic legal research other layers may come into play and vice versa. In a more connected world than ever, a thorough legal research cannot be conducted in isolation from a background of the interaction and dynamics of legal orders. This suffices to say that it is vital for any legal researcher to be mindful of the Dynamics of law.   

Saturday, 3 February 2018

In the loving memory of Matthias Jorissen

Over 10 days ago I thought about blogging about people of the Utrecht University law faculty. I thought about picking a monthly character from my fellow students, university employees and my teachers. The Idea was to pick someone to take a picture with and to write about. The very first person who popped up in mind was Matthias Jorissen. Perhaps he was even the one who made me think about it. More or less a week ago, I had a conversation with one of my fellow students in front of Janskerkhof –the law faculty building, when Matthias ran into us as he was photographing and covering some event, as usual. I remember we had had a short conversation with him. As soon as he left I told my friend about this idea and that I will start with writing about Matthias and that I will contact him later about it. It could have also been an opportunity to tell Matthias what I had in mind, but too much trust I give to longevity! I thought I had all the time in the world to contact him.
Even greater was the shock when I heard that less than a day after this coincidental meeting, Matthias passed away as the result of a heart attack. But who is Matthias? Matthias worked as the LRM policy advisor, but he was so much more than that. Both current and former LRM students called him the father of the LRM. He was a counsellor, a friend, problem solver. He was the perfect bridge between staff and LRM students. For our LRM dean prof. mr. Janneke Gerards he was immensely valuable in assisting her with the organization around the LRM. She told me the work he did cannot be replaced by five others.
That Matthias was a special man who was loved by many became even clearer during his memorial service yesterday. The Janskerk next to the faculty was packed with people who came to so say goodbye. Many of them brought flowers and the memorial was filled with speeches and music. Matthias was praised for his humor, his devotion to everything he did, and above all his attentiveness to each and every one of us. Matthias will leave an enormous gap in all of our lives. He will not be forgotten. Goodbye Matthias, rest in peace.