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Artikel

The precaution controversy: an analysis through the lens of Ulrich Beck and Michel Foucault

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2016
Trefwoorden Precautionary principle, risk society, governmentality, risk governance, environmental law
Auteurs Tobias Arnoldussen
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    According to the precautionary principle lack of scientific evidence for the existence of a certain (environmental) risk should not be a reason not to take preventative policy measures. The precautionary principle had a stormy career in International environmental law and made its mark on many treaties, including the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). However it remains controversial. Proponents see it as the necessary legal curb to keep the dangerous tendencies of industrial production and technology in check. Opponents regard it with suspicion. They fear it will lead to a decrease in freedom and fear the powers to intervene that it grants the state. In this article the principle is reviewed from the perspectives of Ulrich Beck’s ‘reflexive modernisation’ and Michel Foucault’s notion of governmentality. It is argued that from Beck’s perspective the precautionary principle is the result of a learning process in which mankind gradually comes to adopt a reflexive attitude to the risks modernity has given rise to. It represents the wish to devise more inclusive and democratic policies on risks and environmental hazards. From the perspective of Michel Foucault however, the principle is part and parcel of neo-liberal tendencies of responsibilisation. Risk management and prudency are devolved to the public in an attempt to minimise risk taking, while at the same time optimising production. Moreover, it grants legitimacy to state intervention if the public does not live up to the responsibilities foisted on it. Both perspectives are at odds, but represent different sides of the same coin and might learn from each other concerns.


Tobias Arnoldussen
Tobias Arnoldussen is a socio-legal scholar affiliated with the University of Amsterdam Law School and the PPLE honours college. Next to lecturing on a variety of subjects, he focusses on interdisciplinary legal research into the possibilities of law to deal with contemporary social problems.
Artikel

Framing labor contracts: Contract versus network theories

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2016
Trefwoorden contract theory, Network theory, Labor regulation, subjectivity, performativity
Auteurs Robert Knegt
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Since the 18th century the ‘contractual model’ has become both a paradigm of social theories (f.i. ‘rational choice’) and a dominant model of structuring labour relations. Its presupposition of the subjectivity of individual actors as a given is criticized with reference to network-based theories (Latour, Callon) and to analyses of Foucault. The current contract model of labour relations is analyzed from a historical perspective on normative regimes of labour relations, that imply different conceptions of ‘subjectivity’. Research into the regulation of labour relations requires an analysis in terms of an entanglement of human beings, technologies and legal discourse.


Robert Knegt
Senior researcher at Hugo Sinzheimer Institute, University of Amsterdam
Artikel

Opinio juris as epistème: A constructivist approach to the use of contested concepts in legal doctrine

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2016
Trefwoorden Opinio juris, Interpretive concepts, Customary law, Constructivism, Pierre Bourdieu, Peter Berger & Thomas Luckmann
Auteurs Associate Professor Olaf Tans
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Seeing that the role of opinio juris in the identification of customary international law is essentially contested, this contribution seeks to explain how this concept plays a fruitful role in legal doctrine despite of, or perhaps even due to, this essential contestedness. To that effect the paper adopts a constructivist perspective, primarily drawing from Bourdieu’s theory of practice and Berger & Luckmann’s ideas about institutionalization. In this perspective, contested concepts such as opinio juris are conceived of as multifaceted tools of knowledge production in the hands of members of epistemic communities.


Associate Professor Olaf Tans
Olaf Tans works as legal philosopher and political scientist at Amsterdam University College and the Centre for the Politics of Transnational Law. His contribution to this special issue is part of a research line focusing on the social construction of normativity in legal doctrine. He has also published about constitutionalism, citizenship, democracy, and most recently (e.g. in Ratio Juris and Law & Literature) about the use of foundational narratives in public deliberation and law-finding.
Artikel

Autonomy of law in Indonesia

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2016
Trefwoorden Rule of law, Indonesia, Socio-legal studies, Legal scholarhip, Judiciary
Auteurs Professor Adriaan Bedner
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article seeks to answer how useful the theoretical approaches developed in Europe and the United States are for explaining or understanding the autonomy of law in Indonesia – a nation that is on the verge of becoming a lower-middle-income country and whose legal system presents many of the features found in other developing countries’ legal systems. The article first sketches three lines of theoretical thought that have dominated the inquiry into autonomy of law in (Western) sociology and then assesses to what extent they are represented in the socio-legal studies of Indonesian law. The conclusion is that although socio-legal scholars studying developing countries need supplementary concepts and theories, they can use the Western ones as their point of departure in understanding the functioning of law in a setting that is very different from the one in which these theories were developed.


Professor Adriaan Bedner
Adriaan Bedner is professor of law and society in Indonesia at the Van Vollenhoven Institute (Leiden Law School). He has worked on many different subjects within this field, including family law, administrative courts, and environmental law. His present focus is on the Indonesian Ombudsman and on legal education.
Artikel

Social theory and the significance of free will in our system of criminal justice

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2016
Trefwoorden free will, determinism, communicative action, legitimacy, social theory
Auteurs Dr. Rob Schwitters
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Free will is a key assumption of our system of criminal justice. However, the assumption of a free will is questioned by the rapidly growing empirical findings of the neuro and the brain sciences. These indicate that human behavior is driven by subconscious forces beyond the free will. In this text I aim to indicate how social theory might contribute to this debate. This text is an attempt to demonstrate that social theory does not automatically side with the deterministic attacks on free will. The denial of the free will is to a great extent based on a flawed interpretation of free will, in which it is seen as a capacity of separate individuals. I will suggest that it is the sociological realization that free will is embedded in intersubjective relations that helps to clarify which value is at stake when we deny free will. Free will presumes social practices and social relations that facilitate moral and political discourse. As long as we see human actors as capable to evaluate these practices and contexts in moral and political terms, we cannot deny them a free will. My argumentation will build on the theories of Peter Strawson, Anthony Giddens and Jürgen Habermas.


Dr. Rob Schwitters
Rob Schwitters is Associate Professor of Sociology of Law and connected to the Paul Scholten Centre at the University of Amsterdam. He publishes on tort law, responsibility and liability, the welfare state and compliance.
Artikel

Huurachterstand, huisuitzetting en rechterlijke besluitvorming

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 2 2016
Trefwoorden Eviction, rent arrears, home interests, systematic content analysis
Auteurs Michel Vols en Nathalie Minkjan
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Recent developments in the field of housing law have led to a renewed interest in eviction and the legal protection against homelessness. Because of European case law, courts need to apply a contextual approach in which tenants’ home interests and personal circumstances are taken into account more seriously. This paper explores the ways in which home interests and personal circumstances play a role in Dutch litigation concerning eviction because of rent arrears. Based on a quantitative systematic content analysis of nearly 100 written judgments of courts of first instance, it is found that tenants frequently advance various types of proportionality defences and refer to home interests and personal circumstances. Although Dutch courts do take these defences, home interests and personal circumstances into account, the vast majority of landlords’ claims are allowed. In one third of the analysed cases, the court dismisses the landlord’s claim and most of the time minimises the breach of the lease or refers to the disproportional effects of eviction or a tenant’s promise to change his behaviour.


Michel Vols
Michel Vols is adjunct hoogleraar Openbare-orderecht aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen en verbonden aan het Centrum voor Openbare Orde en Veiligheid. Hij doet onder meer onderzoek naar de bescherming van het recht op respect voor de woning en de aanpak van huisjesmelkerij en overlast. Hij is coördinator van de Housing Law Working Group binnen het European Network for Housing Research.

Nathalie Minkjan
Nathalie Minkjan is student aan de Togamaster en het Honours College aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. Zij was tussen 2015 en 2016 als onderzoeksassistent verbonden aan het Centrum voor Openbare Orde en Veiligheid.
Artikel

Becker’s theory on crime and punishment, a useful guide for law enforcement policy in The Netherlands?

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 1 2016
Trefwoorden Economics of crime, law enforcement policy, Gary Becker
Auteurs Ben van Velthoven en Peter van Wijck
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Becker’s theory on crime and punishment provides guidelines for designing an optimal law enforcement policy. In designing such a policy the costs of law enforcement should be traded-off against the benefits that originate in deterring criminal acts. We investigate whether law enforcement policy in the Netherlands is consistent with this guidelines. Since policy makers are not very precise on the goals of law enforcement policy and hardly anything is known about the effectiveness and efficiency of instruments, it turns out to be impossible to say whether law enforcement policy actually contributes to social welfare. This is not necessarily problematic if, in line with the efficient law hypothesis, law enforcement automatically converges to an efficient outcome. Furthermore, Becker’s theory appears to miss a crucial element by not taking account of existing preferences for retribution. If utility is derived from seeing that justice is done, this should be included in the welfare criterion. Assuming policy makers prefer welfare enhancing law enforcement, they would be well-advised to start systematically collecting information on the effectiveness and efficiency of instruments of law enforcement policy.


Ben van Velthoven
Ben van Velthoven is universitair hoofddocent Rechtseconomie aan de Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid van de Universiteit Leiden.

Peter van Wijck
Peter van Wijck is universitair hoofddocent Rechtseconomie aan de Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid van de Universiteit Leiden.
Artikel

Understanding judges’ choices of sentence types as interpretative work: An explorative study in a Dutch police court

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 1 2016
Trefwoorden Judicial decision-making, sentencing type, (ir)redeemability, whole case approach
Auteurs Peter Mascini, Irene van Oorschot PhD, Assistant professor Don Weenink e.a.
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article critically evaluates the prevailing factor-oriented (e.g. a priori defined legal and extralegal characteristics of defendants) approach in analyses of judicial decision-making. Rather than assuming such factors, we aim to demonstrate how Dutch judges engage in interpretative work to arrive at various sentence types. In their interpretative work, judges attempt to weigh and compare various legal and extralegal features of defendants. Importantly, they do so in the context of the case as a whole, which means that these features do not have independent or fixed meanings. Judges select and weigh information to create an image of defendants’ redeemability. However, extralegal concerns other than redeemability also inform judges’ decisions. We argue that studying the naturally occurring interpretative work of judges results in a better understanding of judicial decision-making than outcome-oriented studies, which view criminal cases as collections of independent legal and extralegal factors.


Peter Mascini
Peter Mascini holds a chair in Empirical Legal Studies at the Erasmus School of Law of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, where he is also associate professor of sociology at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. His research focuses on the legitimization, implementation, and enforcement of laws and policies.

Irene van Oorschot PhD
Irene van Oorschot is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of the Social Sciences at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and will soon start as a postdoctoral researcher at the Anthropology Department of the University of Amsterdam. Drawing on actor network theory and feminist studies of knowledge, her research focuses on legal and scientific modes of truth-production.

Assistant professor Don Weenink
Don Weenink is assistant professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. He has published work on, among other subjects, ethnic inequalities in judicial sentencing.

Gratiëlla Schippers
Gratiëlla Schippers has studied Sociology at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. For her master thesis she has done research about the understanding of judges’ choices of sentence types.
Artikel

The legacy and current relevance of Cappelletti and the Florence project on access to justice

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2015
Trefwoorden definition and dimensions access to justice, recommendations, historic context access to justice, current context access to justice
Auteurs Bernard Hubeau
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This contribution explains what access to justice can encompass and how the ideals about access to justice have developed in time. The way to do this is going back to the work of the famous scholars Cappelletti and Garth, who were responsible for a worldwide project on access to justice in the 1970s. Their main issue was to explain access to justice is more than the access to a judge and the organization of courts. Primarily, the system must be equally accessible to all, irrespective of social or economic status or other incapacity. But it also must lead to results that are individually and socially just and fair. Equal access and effective access are the central notions. Their work is put in perspective. The importance of their legacy and the question how we can get along with their work are stressed. Their definition is compared to a few other authoritative definitions. The waves in the history of access to justice are described and putting them in the current context illustrates why a fourth waved can be observed. The major question to be answered is how one can assess the challenges and obstacles of access to justice in the current context. Therefore, some recent dimensions and developments within access to justice are presented: the democratic dimension, the effectiveness of new social rights, the attention for poor and vulnerable people, further juridification, expanding frontiers of and monitoring access to justice, e-justice, and self-help. Finally, a few building blocks for reforms are presented.


Bernard Hubeau
Bernard Hubeau is a full-time Professor in Sociology and Sociology of Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Antwerp. He also teaches at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Antwerp and the Faculty of Law and Criminology of the University of Brussels. He is the former ombudsman of the city of Antwerp and of the Flemish Parliament.
Artikel

Moving access to justice ‘upstream’ from the courts

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2015
Trefwoorden access to justice, legal problems, justice system, legal needs
Auteurs Ab Currie
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    A very large number of people experience everyday legal problems considered by them to be serious and difficult to resolve, the vast majority say it is important to resolve these problems, and virtually everybody experiencing legal problems takes some action to resolve them. However, the fact that very few people make use of the formal justice system suggests that the justice system is not meeting the legal needs of the public. One response would be to expand the traditional formal justice system to include an early-resolution services sector. An ERSS would encompass the early intervention and supported self-help objectives of many existing access to justice initiatives, but would go farther by conceiving what we mean by the justice system more broadly in a way that would accommodate what the everyday legal problems approach tells us about how the public experiences legal problems.


Ab Currie
Ab Currie, Ph.D. (Sociology, University of Toronto), is Senior Research Fellow at the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, where he is currently involved in a range of research on access to civil justice mainly. Prior to joining the Forum, Ab was for over 30 years Principal Researcher in areas of legal aid and access to justice at the Federal Department of Justice in Canada. He has conducted extensive research in criminal and civil legal aid, in particular on unmet need for criminal legal aid and on the civil justice problems experienced by the public. Contact by email at abcurrie@sympatico.ca or acurrie@cfcj-fcjc.org.
Artikel

Access to justice: a dynamic concept

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2015
Auteurs Mies Westerveld, Bernard Hubeau en Ashley Terlouw
Auteursinformatie

Mies Westerveld
Mies Westerveld is Professor Legal aid by special appointment and Professor in Labour Law (social insurance) at the University of Amsterdam. Her research concentrates on current issues of access to justice and state-financed legal aid on the one hand and the decreasing role of social insurance on a fragmented labour market on the other hand.

Bernard Hubeau
Bernard Hubeau is a full-time Professor in Sociology and Sociology of Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Antwerp. He also teaches at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Antwerp and the Faculty of Law and Criminology of the University of Brussels. He is the former ombudsman of the city of Antwerp and of the Flemish Parliament.

Ashley Terlouw
Ashley Terlouw is Professor in Sociology of Law at the Radboud University of Nijmegen. She is responsible for the Centre for Migration Law of the Radboud University. Besides she is part-time Judge at the District Court of Gelderland. Her research concentrates on legal and societal issues of asylum and equal treatment and on the working of the judiciary.

    Access to justice for those who cannot afford it remains a serious and intractable problem. Financial shortfalls and austerity cuts have caused much of the free legal advice sector to contract. Recent gains in the economy have not been distributed to the poorest in society, many of whom view lawyers as expensive and inaccessible. The result has been a widening of the justice gap – one which can only be filled if new models based on digitalization and internet based technologies fulfill their potential and allow both law firms and major brands to provide more affordable services. A broader market based response to the coming shortfall in legal assistance is possible if unbundling can become standard among legal practitioners. Technology will enable citizens to be supported with targeted advice and information should they need it. It will also bring solicitor managed services to an increasingly wide segment of the public.


Richard Cohen
Richard Cohen founded Landau & Cohen Solicitors before joining Epoq in 1998 as Joint CEO and is now Executive Chairman and Head of Partnerships. He served on the Solicitors Regulation Authority working group for the introduction of alternative business structures and contributed to the Legal Services Institute’s study on the Legal Services Act and the Legal Services Consumer Panel relating to referrals. In 2011, Richard was nominated for the FT Innovative Lawyers Legal Innovator of the Year Award.

Humphrey Clarke
Humphrey Clarke has worked in business development and market research for both Epoq’s UK and US operations. He has over nine years’ experience working in the legal and insurance sectors and has contributed numerous research papers and articles for industry publications.
Artikel

Social security and social welfare: barriers and retrograde policies, but cause for optimism?

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2015
Trefwoorden social security, legal representation, means-testing, Britain, fees
Auteurs Amir Paz-Fuchs
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This contribution addresses the limits placed on access to justice in the context of social services, with a particular, but not exclusive, focus on the UK, across five central platforms: legal representation, the financial barriers, the structure of the programme, the attitude of the bureaucracy, and the personal attributes of the client. The contribution finds that there exist, for decades, problematic elements that constitute barriers to justice in this area: the means-tested element in the programmes and the bureaucracy’s double role as provider of services and detector of fraud. But to them, in recent years, significant barriers were added: recent cuts in legal aid and the imposition of tribunal fees in the UK are retrograde steps, reverting 40 years of impressive achievements in the field.


Amir Paz-Fuchs
Amir Paz-Fuchs (D. Phil Oxford) is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, University of Sussex, where he teaches employment law, public law, and legal theory. In addition, he is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and a Research Associate at Wolfson College, both at the University of Oxford. He is also Co-Director of the ‘The Limits of Privatization’ research project, based at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. He also served on the board of several human rights and social justice NGOs.
Artikel

Merits testing in the English legal aid system: exploring its impact in asylum cases

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2015
Trefwoorden access to justice, asylum seekers, merits testing, English legal aid system
Auteurs Tamara Butter
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In recent years, there has been much discussion on the legal aid cuts and reforms in England and Wales, and the possible consequences this would have on access to justice for vulnerable groups in society, including immigrants and asylum seekers. This contribution focuses on one element of the English legal aid system: merits testing by legal aid providers in asylum cases. It explores whether and, if so, how this aspect may affect the access to justice for asylum seekers lacking the financial means to pay privately for legal assistance and representation. The findings indicate that a merits test which makes access to legal aid on appeal conditional upon a case having at least 50% prospect of success and makes legal aid providers responsible for conducting this assessment may compromise asylum seekers’ ability to achieve justice both within and outside the existing body of law.


Tamara Butter
Tamara Butter is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Sociology of Law/Centre for Migration Law of the Radboud University of Nijmegen. Her research consists of a comparative case study into the professional decision making of asylum legal aid lawyers in the Netherlands and England.
Artikel

Access to justice in consumer law

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2015
Trefwoorden consumer law, enforcement of consumer rights, costs of procedure, obstacles for enforcement
Auteurs Marco Loos
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In many areas of private law, mandatory substantive law protects consumers. In this contribution, I will argue that awarding consumer rights without properly regulating the consumer’s access to the court system renders these rights unenforceable through the ordinary courts. Several obstacles to the proper enforcement of consumer rights by individuals are identified, ranging from consumers’ lack of knowledge of their rights to the formalities of proceedings, the use of complex jargon and the costs involved in court procedures. It is argued that these obstacles produce such disincentives for consumers to maintain their rights that the result is that they do so in an insufficient manner, which leads to under-enforcement of consumer law.


Marco Loos
Marco Loos is Professor of Private Law, in particular of European consumer law, at the Centre for the Study of European Contract Law of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and member of the Board of the Ius Commune Research School.
Artikel

Responsibilities of the state and legal professions

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2015
Trefwoorden responsibilities, the state, lawyers, the judiciary and judges
Auteurs Mies Westerveld en Ashley Terlouw
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This contribution, which is based on the Dutch legal system, deals with the responsibilities of the State and legal professions in ensuring access to justice. The responsibilities of the four main players involved in bringing justice to the citizen are discussed: the legislator, the executive, the judiciary, and the legal profession. Responsibilities for access to justice do not only stem from the law, they do also evolve from societal problems and discussions. The contribution deals with both. Several actors share some of the responsibilities. One can think of responsibilities for information, for financing, and for being aware of vulnerabilities and other obstacles. What are the legal responsibilities and what other responsibilities are felt by the actors involved and how do they deal with them? And as a result: do they contribute to access to justice, do they form an obstacle, or both?


Mies Westerveld
Mies Westerveld is Professor Legal aid by special appointment and Professor in Labour Law (social insurance) at the University of Amsterdam. Her research concentrates on current issues of access to justice and state-financed legal aid on the one hand and the decreasing role of social insurance on a fragmented labour market on the other hand.

Ashley Terlouw
Ashley Terlouw is Professor in Sociology of Law at the Radboud University of Nijmegen. She is responsible for the Centre for Migration Law of the Radboud University. Besides she is part-time Judge at the District Court of Gelderland. Her research concentrates on legal and societal issues of asylum and equal treatment and on the working of the judiciary.
Artikel

Challenges and obstacles to access to justice in health care

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2015
Trefwoorden patients’ rights, disciplinary law, medical negligence, right to complain
Auteurs Aart Hendriks
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In the Netherlands, patients have a large number of options to express their dissatisfaction about the services provided by health care providers and can institute all kind of (quasi) legal procedures. None of these procedures was however introduced to ensure patients’ right to access to justice. Access to justice for health care providers confronted with complaints by patients is even less guaranteed. An analysis of Dutch law and practice learns that the access to justice has not found an inroad in the health care sector yet. This is not to suggest that patients lack legal rights, but if access to justice was taken as a yardstick to measures laws against the health care sector, they would have looked differently.


Aart Hendriks
Aart Hendriks is Professor in Health Law at Leiden University, the Netherlands, legal advisor to the Royal Dutch Medical Association, and substitute judge at the District Court of Rotterdam. He has published extensively on health and human rights issues. He serves as advisor to various national and international organizations, is board member of a number of administrative bodies, and is editor of several scientific journals in the field of health, medicine, and human rights.
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