“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”
― Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (Schocken Books 1948, trans. Willa Muir)
What can Socio-Legal Studies learn from the termite hill? From the microbes in Louis Pasteur’s petri dish? Or the dust on the files of the Conseil d’État? All of it, the late Bruno Latour tells us, are informants carrying clues about the processes which make up what we call society or culture. These things—from pipettes to armchairs, to mice and files—can be considered equally as participants in social action. At this suggestion, many Socio-Legal scholars recoil. The common riposte is that objects do not feel like the typical subjects of our research; the décor does not share the drama with the actors. Even if they are not reducible to such tendencies, Socio-Legal questions carry attendant humanist impulses; a commitment to human dignity and the complexity of the human condition. The constructivist paradigm places a primacy on methods which centre human agency, such as being in the field and on face-to-face methods precisely because we seek to explicate the social dimensions of law. Objects, however, are more than the ‘scenery and stage props for the spate of human action’ (Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life 1956, p.13). Amidst the climate crisis, it has never been timelier to review Latour’s contributions to challenge the Western, capitalist human exceptionalism implicit in the canon of Socio-Legal Studies. (more…)
By Professor Albert Sanchez-Graells, Co-Director of the Centre for Global Law and Innovation (University of Bristol Law School).
The Digital Constitutionalist (DigiCon) has recently hosted a symposium on ‘Safeguarding the Right to Good Administration in the Age of AI’, co-edited by Dr Simona Demková (Leiden), Dr Melanie Fink (Leiden) and Dr Giulia Gentile (Essex). Professor Sanchez-Graells contributed his thoughts on the need to extend good administration requirements to the phases of decision-making that are not yet directly relevant to the individual, as well as the need to broaden good administration guarantees to a collective dimension, to account for the new risks arising in the AI-driven administrative context. In this post, first published in the DigiCon symposium, Albert looks at ways to achieve this, whether through an expansive interpretation of Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union or through a European legislative reform. (more…)
The concept of faux amis (‘false friends’) has been used in the literature to describe terms used in an international convention which seem familiar to an interpreter but which, in fact, are defined differently in the convention to in the domestic legal system the interpreter is used to. Several instances of faux amis have been identified on the basis of the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). One major example can be found in the US case of Delchi Carrier SpA v Rotorex Corp., which required an interpretation of Article 74 CISG. This provision states that ‘damages may not exceed the loss which the party in breach foresaw or ought to have foreseen at the time of the conclusion of the contract.’ The US court understood this rule as a reference to the ‘familiar principle of foreseeability established in Hadley v Baxendale.’ Hadley v Baxendale is the leading English case on remoteness of damage and has also gained recognition in the US. Rather than referring to the preparatory works and other materials examining the specific meaning of the foreseeability rule under the CISG, the court thus reached for an analogy from its own jurisdiction. (more…)