Viktoria H.S.E. Robertson, Assistant Professor, University of Graz
I was a Visiting Fellow with the Institute from September 2016 to August 2017, during which time I was also associated with the Institute’s Centre for Competition Law and Policy (CCLP). During my time in Oxford, I carried out extensive research for my book project on the topic of antitrust market definition in innovative market environments. As this is a comparative law research project, the Institute was the ideal setting for me – having both a strong emphasis on comparative law as well as a world-renowned centre exclusively dedicated to competition law. The well-equipped Law Bod as well as the stimulating research environment at the Institute were highly beneficial to my work throughout the year, and I am leaving Oxford with a feeling of gratitude, satisfaction and curiosity of what might come next.
The Institute’s regular Comparative Law Discussion Group allowed for lively discussions on a wide-ranging array of comparative law topics. In May 2017, I was given the opportunity to speak about comparative law methodologies in competition law research within that discussion group. That same month, the CCLP organized a very timely event on Online Markets and Offline Welfare Effects which I was glad to attend. Finally, in June 2017, I had the privilege to speak at the annual Antitrust Enforcement Symposium organized by the CCLP, an enormously stimulating event bringing together academics, enforcers and practitioners for a weekend of lively debate against the beautiful backdrop of Pembroke College. Throughout the academic year, I also attended a great number of other thought-provoking discussion groups and conferences, as well as some undergraduate lectures and graduate seminars in competition law. I was fortunate to be able to discuss my research with a range of highly knowledgeable individuals (whom I refrain from naming for fear of leaving somebody out), and these frank discussions certainly enriched my work.
During my research stay, I was admitted as a temporary member to the Senior Common Room of St John’s College, Oxford, and for this I am particularly indebted to my former college tutor, Simon Whittaker. Senior Common Room membership gave me the wonderful opportunity to re-experience college life and the stimulating academic discussions that come with it. The Encaenia ceremony was another highlight of my academic year.
I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Ariel Ezrachi for hosting me at the CCLP, and to John Cartwright and Jenny Dix for hosting me at the Institute, for what turned out to be not only a memorable but also a highly productive research year during which many friendships were forged and possible future collaborations explored.
Elisabeth Brameshuber, Assistant Professor, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business
In May and June 2017, I spent seven tremendously productive weeks at IECL, generously financed by my home institution, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business. During my visit, I mainly concentrated on finishing my research on the ‘Information and Consultation Framework Directive’ (ICFD) 2002/14/EC. This research forms part of an edited book on EU Collective Labour Law (editors: Beryl ter Haar, University of Leiden, and Attila Kun, Karoli Gaspar University Budapest), to be published in 2018 with Edward Elgar Publishing. The main idea of the book and therefore also of my chapter is to combine an overview over the different topics with insights into recent research questions in the relevant fields. Coming from Austria, where information and consultation at the workplace plays a very important role in the labour relations in general, my stay in Oxford helped a lot in understanding why regulation at EU-level was and still is difficult.
Most helpful was the possibility to present the first results of my research to the Labour Law Discussion Group. Discussing the underlying systematic differences in employee-involvement in the UK and in Austria with some of the most well-known experts in that field (especially Hugh Collins, Mark Freedland and Jeremias Prassl) showed me once more that common standards at EU-level in collective labour law matters are most difficult to achieve. One of the outcomes of my research is that information and consultation (I&C) ‘only’ at the stage as established by Art 4(4)e) ICFD, thus in case the employer intends to substantially change work organisation and contractual relations, is not going to have the effects envisaged by the ICFD. Effective I&C thus has to take place at an earlier stage, or rather permanently and not only in order to discuss social implications after economic and strategic choices have been made. As best-practice examples of certain Member States, but also of negotiated agreements in various countries, show, permanent I&C is not inconceivable. Recent developments show that even in countries without strong employee involvement-traditions, such as in the UK, there is a call for more extensive employee involvement.
The environment at IECL was the perfect place to conduct comparative research on that topic. Thanks to John Cartwright, Jenny Dix and all my wonderful temporary colleagues at IECL (in particular Elisabeth Ahlinder, Vicky Robertson, Nadja Schwery, Karina Tata and Elbert de Jong) I felt most welcome and ‘at home’ from the very beginning. Working together with motivated researchers from all over Europe was truly inspiring. Conducting research in such an open and welcoming environment offered many new perspectives, not only on labour law, but also on how I would like to pursue my academic career in the future. Thanks to Jeremias Prassl, I also got to know other academic visitors to Oxford in the field of labour law (Desmond Ryan from Trinity College, Dublin, and Tess Hardy from the University of Melbourne) which shows that the environment is truly international. To conclude, I am most grateful that I had the possibility to work at IECL and to live in Oxford for two months, spending many hours doing research, but also building friendships and bases for future academic collaborations.
One of my lines of research addresses the issue of corporate law and financial markets. My research visit to the University of Orford Institute of European and Comparative Law gave me the opportunity to write an article “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and contemporary understanding of corporate forms of business dealing”. This article presents the history of industrial revolutions and possible influence of the fourth industrial revolution on the sphere of legal regulation of entrepreneurial activity. The article is already published in the second issue of the magazine Business Law. The second article on the independent directors in Russia is coming soon.
The opportunity to attend the library and discussions with professors of Oxford University was of great value for me. In particular, I would like to say thank you to Paul Davies, Luca Enriques, John Armour and other professors with whom I've met during my visit to the Institute of European and Comparative Law. I would also like to express special gratitude to the Drector of IECL, John Cartwright, and the Administrator, Jenny Dix. Thanks to their efforts, we extend co-operation between Moscow State University and the University of Oxford!
UK Labour Law is well known within the realm of EU Law because of its interesting contributions to the topic on discrimination. As I am in the process of writing a book on disability discrimination in Labour Law, my visit to the IECL was absolutely necessary and fruitful. I stayed from the beginning of January 2017 till the end of February 2017, focussing on two main points: first, the knowledge of domestic disability discrimination law; second, the recent developments in the concept of EU disability.
The IECL provided me with a very suitable environment for both working effectively and meeting many interesting professors, lecturers and researchers. The latter helped me deepen my insights into their countries´ respective jurisdictions. I also met Professor Anne Davies, an expert on EU Labour Law, whom I would like to thank for her support and orientations.
Mornings and afternoons in the library were very fruitful, allowing me to acquaint myself with the English jurisdiction, particularly from the view point of disability. In fact, I was able to draw on numerous books and articles tailored to this topic. Interestingly, even prior to the enactment of the Directive 2000/78, the UK had already ruled on reasonable workplace adjustments, considering them a compulsory duty towards employees. The American influence is clear on this approach and the UK has been the gate to enter these mainstreams into the EU Directive.
According to the European Court´s perspective, the concept of disability was to exclude mere illness, but, following the Ring and Kaltotf cases, it has actually been widened. Now, chronic illnesses and other permanent impairments, like obesity, are included. Fortunately, the law library contains a special section on European Union monographs and journals, all of which were very useful to become updated on these sort of issues.
Among the large variety of events organised by the University of Oxford, I attended the Labour Law Group talks. This allowed me to gain an insight into several topics, such as the procurement and workers' rights, the difference between Common Law and Labour Law or the difficulties of implementing Courts' judgements in practice.
I hope that my book on the ending of an employment contract for the sake of illness will be finished in due course. I am particularly grateful to Professor Cartwright, IECL Director, and Jenny Dix, Administrator, for their guidance and assistance during my stay at the IECL.
I was a postdoctoral Academic Visitor at the Institute from September to December 2016. The main focus of my research was the protection of fundamental rights in multilevel systems, which is the topic of my habilitation thesis. I analyzed the approach British courts have taken towards the doctrine of supremacy of EU law, with a special focus on recent developments, in particular the High Court decision in R (Miller and Dos Santos) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. In addition, I examined perspectives from legal theory on the EU and its relationship with national law, considering monist, dualist and pluralist approaches.
I was lucky enough to discuss questions related to my research on EU law with various scholars, in particular with Professor Pavlos Eleftheriadis, whose seminar on Constitutional Principles of the EU I attended. Moreover, I had the opportunity to discuss issues related to the protection of fundamental rights with Professor Anthony Bradley, who not only shed light on the role of the ECHR in the UK, but also shared with me his insights into the legal implications of the Brexit debate. Last but not least, I was able to participate at the meetings of the EU Law Discussion Group, which gave me the chance to meet researchers and experts from all over the world.
In addition to my research on fundamental rights, I dedicated some time on a topic that I had covered from a German perspective before: the rights of religious employers when it comes to imposing lifestyle-related obligations on their employees. Whereas in Germany, the right to self-determination allows religious organisations to impose lifestyle-related obligations on their employees in an extensive manner, the situation in the UK is quite different. Since in the UK, antidiscrimination legislation has a long tradition, religious organisations enjoy less discretion with regard to ethos-based measures against employees. For the purpose of my research, I had the chance to meet Professor Lucy Vickers who recently published a monograph on this matter and to discuss with her similarities and differences of the German and UK systems. In addition, I am indebted to P. James Campbell SJ whose insights shed a light on the general situation of religious organizations in the UK. The results of my research will shortly be published in an article.
Last but not least I wish to thank Professor John Cartwright and Jenny Dix for their assistance during my stay at the Institute. I would also like to thank my colleagues at the Institute for their support and their readiness to discuss questions related to European Union law.
The subject matter of my research was the role of the transparency principle and its connection with the duty of disclosure of information that is due by the seller or supplier to the consumer. The rule of 2015 has introduced new requirements in relation to this principle. As a result of this research I have done a comparative study between the English and the Spanish system.
I have taken into account the principles of English Contract law, the great influence that European Union has had in domestic legislation and the criteria the European Court of Justice has developed to assist judges in interpreting the different principles and concepts Directive 93/13/CEE introduced.
The IECL provides a friendly atmosphere that allows a continuous exchange of opinions. At the Institute I have had the opportunity to meet researchers from all over Europe. Especially through the meetings the IECL organises every Friday where we have a chance to meet not only visitors but also fellows and professors from the University of Oxford.
(Stockholm Senior Visiting Fellow, 2015-16)
My main focus was a project in family law concerning children’s rights to participation and the role and function of legal representatives in child protection cases. I compared the Swedish system with that in England and Wales, and there the specific framework with tandem representation for children. As part of this project – and also inspired by comparing the two systems - I have begun addressing the concept of consent and autonomy for vulnerable groups such as parents and children in child protection proceedings.
In Oxford I was able to discuss questions relating to my research with many scholars at the Institute as well as at both the Faculty of Law and other faculties at the University. I am particularly indebted to Professors Jonathan Herring, John Eekelaar, Mavis Maclean and Lucinda Ferguson. It was a privilege to participate in the Children’s and Family Law Discussion Group at the Faculty of Law – where I held a seminar on the Swedish ban on physical punishment – and also attend events organised by the Oxford Children’s Rights Network. I am also very grateful for the possibility to observe proceedings in Family Courts and meet with both social workers and lawyers working in the field. This was made possible by the generous help and network of colleagues at the Institute and the Faculty.
As often happens when addressing a different legal system in that very practical way, I was inspired to write about other topics such as adoption and surrogacy arrangements, both of which demonstrate significant differences in comparisons of the legislation in England and Wales to Sweden.
The time spent at Oxford gave a lot of input and inspiration but also some output ;-). Apart from having started working on a book on participation and legal representation for children I have also finalised a couple of articles on these topics. I am very grateful for having had the possibility of a sabbatical in Oxford. The research environment at the IECL is very inspiring and I greatly enjoyed the Friday coffee meetings. I was also lucky to be an associate member of Exeter College which gave me the opportunity to experience the very special and friendly atmosphere of Oxford college and also meet with so many inspiring researchers from many different fields of science.
In January 2014 I joined the Institute of European and Comparative Law as Academic visitor. Since them, I have visited the Institute three times for the purpose of carrying out research work.
My research project has focused on international successions and the conflict of laws, aiming to identify the differences between Common law and Civil law systems, and the practical problems arising in determining the Court's jurisdiction and the applicable law after the entry into force of the European Union Successions Regulation, specially for the successions of British nationals with habitual residence in Spain. The research carried out during this time has been very productive and highly rewarding and the access to the bibliographical funds of the Bodleian Law Library has been essential in order to conduct and develop my research. As a result, I have published several articles related to international successions, testamentary trusts, and the conflict of laws.
My research periods at the Institute have also been a good opportunity to attend the numerous academic activities organised by the University of Oxford, and have provided me with the possibility to meet other colleagues not only from Oxford University but also from other countries around the world which are working on research projects linked up with my research topic. The research environment provided by the IECL is fantastic and represents a unique and exceptional opportunity for carrying out research work. Therefore, I wish to express my gratitude to the Governance of the Institute for having been admitted as Visitor, specially to John Cartwright, Alexandra Braun and Jenny Dix for their assistance, help and advice during my visits at the Institute. I would also like to thank all my colleagues for their support and friendship. It has been a pleasure working with them and sharing coffees and lunches in Oxford.
My research topic at the Institute of European and Comparative Law concerned the General Principles of the European Union, particularly focusing on the Principle of Subsidiarity from a legal-theoretical perspective, and also taking a hermeneutical approach to its vague meaning. According to this principle, which was established in the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht and nowadays is contained within the proposed new Treaty of Lisbon, the European Union may only act and make laws where member states agree that the action of individual countries is insufficient. In other words, this Principle is extremely important because it underlies everything the European Union does in areas where it does not have the right of exclusive competence. This also means that the Community must not undertake or regulate what can be managed or regulated more efficiently at national or regional levels. This is not only one of the central principles in the EU context, but a principle inherent in any construction of a federal type, and must be exercised in a spirit of cooperation between the various levels of power.
Notwithstanding the brief duration of my research visit, from July to August 2016, it was very productive since I was able to write an article to be published in 2017.
I should also like to say how pleased I am to have had the opportunity to meet colleagues from other countries and exchange views and knowledge on Comparative Law. The academic environment at the IECL was perfect to develop my research successfully, therefore I would like to finish by thanking Prof. John Cartwright for his support, and for giving me the opportunity to visit the Institute, and Jenny Dix for her generous availability at any time and professionalism in responding to my queries.
The initial idea to come to Oxford for my research project was to focus on the "History and current issues of English and Scottish Law in a comparative prospective" as I was preparing a new edition of my European Comparative Law Textbook.
Facing a new editorial challenge, as soon as I joined the Institute I realised the potential of developing the original project towards new topics such as the study of the Financial Collateral Arrangements from a comparative prospective. Security interests are a branch of financial law concerning the creation and transfer of financial assets. Each legal system underpinning the functioning of financial markets across the globe is different, even though substantial progress has been made to harmonize the various jurisdictions. In particular the 2002 EU Directive on financial collateral arrangements had the objective to introduce common standards across Europe and reduce the gap with the US to increase market efficiency and stability. The aim of my research was to understand if these objectives have been achieved. As a result, during my stay I focused on the English and Scottish rules on this subject compared to some other European legal systems (Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal). Since Europe compares with its major law making competitors such as the US, and with the soft law products (ISDA's and European Master Agreements, DCFR, International Conventions etc.) my study aimed at providing a comparative assessment of the interaction between the various components and jurisdictions in a dynamic perspective.
The environment here in Oxford was ideal for my research objectives: I cannot thank enough John Cartwright, Jenny Dix and all my colleagues at the Institute for their enthusiasm and support. Moreover, the volume of documentation available on-line is so vast and comprehensive to largely offset the inconvenience caused by the refurbishment of the Bodleian Law Library.
I have also had the extraordinary opportunity to witness the historic event of the EU referendum from inside. The shocking decision of the UK to leave the EU tells us how important peace, integration and joint responsibility are. These objectives can only be achieved through relentless commitment, in particular from those who are in charge of culture and education as we are.
I leave with sorrow my colleagues and many new friends. I sincerely hope there will be another opportunity to come back to the Institute and perhaps see its new location in 2017.
My research visit to the Oxford Institute of European and Comparative Law in May-June 2016 was brief, but fruitful. My main aim was to work on a few chapters that will become part of a monograph on lawmaking in European private law from a legal pluralist perspective. The research project focuses on mechanisms for ‘managing pluralism’ in European private law. It explores ways in which norms developed at different levels of regulation—national law, EU law and transnational private law—can be coordinated within the broader social and market framework of the EU. Where existing strategies for lawmaking, in particular top-down harmonization by the EU, seem to have reached their limits, new mechanisms emerge or can be conceived. The project explores the normative basis and the regulatory design of such new mechanisms, focusing in particular on private or hybrid forms of regulation, such as standardization in contract law, and the development of guidelines of regulation that might benefit lawmaking actors (legislators, but sometimes also courts or tribunals).
I used the time in Oxford to discuss research ideas with scholars based at several of the Oxford colleges, who kindly hosted me. Their company was very engaging and our discussions contributed much to developing my research. I also had the chance to attend one or two lectures by prominent visiting scholars.
Without overstating it, the research environment provided by the IECL is amongst the best in the world. The resources of the university, for my research primarily available through the Bodleian Law Library, are comprehensive and easily accessible. Furthermore, the workspace provided by the Institute during my stay—even if it was at a different location due to refurbishments—was excellent and the staff extremely helpful and welcoming. Having been at Oxford before, it is always a pleasure to come back and I hope to have the opportunity to do so in the future, not least to see the Institute at its new location in the St Cross Building.
My visit at the Institute the spring of 2016 was of a dual nature: to participate in an Erasmus plus teacher mobility program and also to research. The Erasmus teacher exchange between the Law Faculty at Oxford University and the Department of Law at Stockholm University has entailed that a fellow at the Institute, Andreas von Goldbeck, was co-course director of Comparative Law in Stockholm in the fall of 2015. Now in the spring of 2016, I had the opportunity to participate as a teacher in the international labour law course, doctoral seminars and a moot court. The establishment of the teacher exchange is seen as a further strengthening of the ties between the Department of Law at Stockholm University and the Institute. The research I did while at the Institute was for an ongoing project, Grappling with Democracy: Trade Unions, Representation and the Law, which I began as a research fellow at the Institute the year prior. The specific topic, labour union members’ rights to concretely influence the actions of the labour unions internally, is being examined from a comparative perspective of Sweden, the US, and the UK. The stay at the Institute afforded me the opportunity to further research the UK labour law model.
One of my lines of research addresses the issue of Inheritance Contracts in Catalan and Spanish Law, and their role as an alternative to wills when organising one’s succession. Indeed, in an inheritance contract, the future decedent and the future heir agree so as to create a right in favour of the latter to the future estate of the former. The basic consequence is that the future decedent is prevented from appointing a new heir through a will and, in turn, the future heir is barred from disclaiming the inheritance. The resort to this type of contract poses many issues and, in particular the reasons that drive a person to relinquish their freedom to make a will. Traditionally it is understood that the reason underlying this decision was to urge the future heir to do something in particular (namely, take care of a member of the family or tend the family business) knowing that, in doing so, he would be rewarded in the future with the bequeathing of the estate. Developing this line of research, during my stay at the Institute, I delved into the comparative analysis of the topic and consider its implications by analysing deeper how common-law systems address this issue, and, at an European level, how do substantive regulations of comparative legal systems interact with the Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession. The results of the research will be shortly published in the forthcoming book Los pactos sucesorios en el Derecho civil catalán, by Editorial Atelier.
During the period October-December 2015 I was fortunate enough to be a Canterbury Fellow at the Institute of European and Comparative Law at the University of Oxford. During this time I undertook work on a number of projects including work for a series of the entries for the forthcoming Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law. The Fellowship also allowed me to develop connections with a number of established and world leading scholars, many of whom hosted me in their Colleges. I am extremely grateful for their assistance and hospitality. I was a regular attendee at both the International Law and Comparative/European Law seminar series and in some cases developed (and re-kindled) contacts with a number of globally recognised scholars and practitioners from outside Oxford. Overall I found the experience extremely fruitful both academically and personally. The facilities were second to none and the assistance provided by the Institute and University staff was exemplary. The Institute of European and Comparative Law could not have been more helpful in providing both a friendly place to work and an intellectually stimulating environment. I hope that the contacts developed there (from as far away as Chile and Sweden) will provide the basis for further collaborations in the future.