How are we to understand criminal law reform? The idea seems simpleâthe criminal law on the books is wrong: it should be changed. But 'wrongâ how? By what norms 'wrongâ? As soon as one tries to answer those questions, the issue becomes more complex. One kind of answer is that the criminal law is substantively wrong: that is, we assume valid norms of background political morality, and we argue that doctrinally the criminal law on the books does not embody (...) those norms. Another kind of answer is that the criminal law as it stands presupposes certain empirical facts, and yet those facts do not hold. Traditionally, criminal law reform has been informed by both these answers. Analytical theorists examine doctrine for its conceptual structure, and social scientists examine the actual workings of the criminal justice system. This tidy picture is, however, challenged by social constructivist accounts of the criminal law. They challenge the stability and conceptual purity of doctrine, and they challenge the objectivity of social science. On the basis of these challenges, they undermine the ambitions of traditional criminal law reform, and argue that the only reforms to the criminal law that matter are politicized onesâthat criminal law reform is pointless unless it serves the interests of the marginalized and the dispossessed. It seems undeniable that in some sense our perceptions of crime in our society are indeed moulded by social forces, and that crime does not exist independently of the social structures and processes that help to define and control it. But why should those insights have the implications for our understanding of criminal law reform that they are alleged to have? How could it follow from those insights that criminal law reform either becomes radicalized or valueless? The aim of this paper is to show that what can legitimately be taken from the emphasis on the social constructedness of crime does not require wholesale abandonment of the traditional picture of criminal law reform, even though it may require some modifications of that picture. (shrink)
This thesis considers two allegations which conservatives often level at no-fault systems — namely, that responsibility is abnegated under no-fault systems, and that no-fault systems under- and over-compensate. I argue that although each of these allegations can be satisfactorily met – the responsibility allegation rests on the mistaken assumption that to properly take responsibility for our actions we must accept liability for those losses for which we are causally responsible; and the compensation allegation rests on the mistaken assumption that tort (...) law’s compensatory decisions provide a legitimate norm against which no-fault’s decisions can be compared and criticized – doing so leads in a direction which is at odds with accident law reform advocates’ typical recommendations. On my account, accident law should not just be reformed in line with no-fault’s principles, but rather it should be completely abandoned since the principles that protect no- fault systems from the conservatives’ two allegations are incompatible with retaining the category of accident law, they entail that no-fault systems are a form of social welfare and not accident law systems, and that under these systems serious deprivation – and to a lesser extent causal responsibility – should be conditions of eligibility to claim benefits. (shrink)
Widows form a sub-set of an already beleaguered gendered minority in societies where law is but one of a competing number of social orders. This can render widows vulnerable and often outside the protection of State law and at the behest of (discriminatory) customary laws. Ghana enacted the Intestate Succession Law 1985 (P.N.D.C.L.111) to grant widows the right to inherit from the estate of the deceased. However, the law has had little impact. Personal narrative analysis was used to ascertain the (...) reasons for this through interviews conducted with widows. Proposals are then made as to how law reform can promote and effect gender equality. (shrink)
Empirical research in this field has underlined the diversity of the cohabitation population, the existence of the common law marriage myth and the lack of consensus on the best way forward for reform of the law in England and Wales. Against the backdrop of the English Law Commission’s on-going project on cohabitation law, this article will explore the reasons found by recent research for people’s choice of cohabitation over marriage, the interrelationship between commitment and economic vulnerability and the tension (...) in feminist debates as to whether an extension of rights for opposite-sex cohabitants that are analogous to married spouses (either by an opt-in model or opt-out model) might be an appropriate solution or a reinforcement of patriarchal marriage values. It will also consider, given recent research findings and other initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the legal differences between different styles of cohabitation relationship, law’s dual and conflicting role in shaping regulated family structures whilst both protecting vulnerable family members inside and outside such structures and at the same time also offering socially acceptable standards of dispute resolution in this most personal of spheres. (shrink)
This article will provide a critique of tworecent English marriage law decisions, thefirst concerning a (female to male) transgenderman and the second a (male to female)intersexed woman. It will do so throughconsideration of the dialogue between each andthe landmark transgender case of Corbett v. Corbett. It will highlight howboth decisions, in seeking to minimise the factof `departure' from Corbett, serve toreproduce key elements of that decision whichserve to undermine the future prospects fortransgender law reform in the English context.In particular, (...) both decisions, in differentways, or with different emphases, ensure that`legal sex' continues to be determined by(bio)logical and temporal factors. Crucially,however, as in Corbett, it is legalanxiety over the boundaries of the `natural',and the homophobia of law, that underscoresthis anxiety, that account for these particularconstructions of `legal sex'. (shrink)
Recent rape law reform is most saliently characterised by a turn to gender neutrality in its definition of the crime of rape. The few possible advantages of a gender neutral approach to rape are offset by a series of disadvantages regarding gender justice when viewed from a feminist perspective. Formal gender neutrality does not safeguard against the effective influence of pervasive and enduring symbolic constructions pertaining to male and female sexuality and of a normalised hierarchical binary constructed between the (...) two sexes, in particular where sexual relations are concerned. Such efficacy may impede justice for both male and female victims of rape. The question about the place of sexual difference or rather sexual specificity within feminist theories of justice should be considered anew in light of this critical analysis of gender neutrality in rape law. (shrink)
Alstin, Zac At a March lecture in Canberra, Australian ethicist and pro-abortion activist Dr Leslie Cannold, spoke about the 'unfinished business' of abortion law reform in Australia. A frustrated friend sent me the transcript of this lecture and asked me to write something in response. But given the context of Cannold's lecture: a pro-abortion speech to a pro-abortion audience about pro-abortion law reform, a direct response seems impertinent. Plus, as a rule of thumb, when you play 'Pin the (...) Tail' on a live donkey you're liable to get a kick in the teeth. It makes more sense to take Cannold's speech at face value as evidence of an abortion activist's self-imposed mission in our society. To attack her for saying what she believes is perhaps in Cannold's own words "like blaming a leopard for having spots.". (shrink)
Riordan, Marcia This report on the Victorian Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008 particularly considers the fact that it has denied health care professionals any right of conscientious objection. It sees this as part of an international attempt to deny conscientious objection against abortion, and to enforce abortion as an international human right.
This paper compares and critically comments upon certain aspects of the Canadian Law Reform Commission Report,Euthanasia, Aiding Suicide and Cessation of Treatment, and the United States Presidential Commission Report,Deciding to Forego Life-Sustaining Treatment. It focuses on their positions on euthanasia and on the general principles, values, and procedures that ought to govern practices of foregoing life-sustaining treatment. The paper first comments on the recent debate over the moral relevance of the killing/letting die distinction, since this issue appears crucial in (...) assessing the rationality of the current, absolute prohibitions of direct killing in medical contexts, embodied both in law and in codes of ethics. This issue bears upon a question in the closing section—whether the withdrawal of foods and fluids is ever morally permissible. (shrink)
This Article focuses both on the changes that have been made to the legal framework governing post-separation parenting of children in Australia, as well as the processes and discourses via which these matters have been dealt with and debated. Alone among comparable common law jurisdictions such as Canada, the United States, and England, Australiaâs family law legislation, and the significant changes made to it in the past fifteen years, can be seen to have been particularly responsive to the lobbying of (...) fathersâ rights groups. It will be suggested that changes to the legislative framework that governs family law in Australia have taken place, at best, without any clear rationale or need and perhaps more problematically, have at times flown in the face of, rather than been undertaken by reference to, the evidence-based research about post-separation parenting practices and what we know about childrenâs welfare or best interests, the paramount consideration that underpins decision-making in this field. The purpose of this discussion is to attempt to posit some possible explanations for this distinctive path of Australian family law âreformâ. (shrink)
Both dowry and domestic violence are manifestations of the socially subordinate position of women in India, in particular of women in relation to and within the institution of marriage. Studies reveal how the socio economic changes ushered in by modernisation have interacted with traditional norms to sustain these practices and through them, the subordination of women. The women’s movement began addressing these social problems through law, and has through the years continued to critique the law for its failure to deliver. (...) The critiques and debates arising from this concern have periodically generated recommendations for law reform, higher sentencing, widening the net of criminalisation, creation of special women’s police stations and courts in addition to strategies for raising gender awareness amongst the judiciary and the police. This article attempts to suggest that the shortcomings of the decades of women’s engagement with the law is not merely because of flaws and gender bias within the law, but more importantly, because of the expectations from the law and the centrality placed on its role in social transformation. (shrink)
'A highly regarded anaesthetist at the height of his abilities has recently faced charges of the manslaughter of a moribund 82-year-old lady who died during the course of an operation for gangrenous bowel'. The language used by McCall Smith and Merry to open their argument for change to New Zealand's manslaughter laws is revealing. Why should it matter that the anaesthetist was 'highly regarded' and 'at the height of his abilities'? Should the criminal law be reserved for lesser mortals who (...) err? Why should the patient's moribund state and age be relevant to criminal liability? Had the anaesthetist hastened her death by stabbing her, would we think that murder charges should not be laid just because she was old and dying? (shrink)
Campbell, Ray Trying to fully understand what was behind the recent amendments to the Criminal Code in Queensland and the continued pressure to change the law on abortion is something like trying to do a jigsaw puzzle. However, in this case there are one or two foreign pieces that really do not contribute to the true picture, but are introduced as a distraction.
The project of the comprehensive reform of Japanese insolvency law started in October 1996. After many enactments and amendments, there are now two types of judicial proceedings for personal insolvencies in Japanese insolvency law. The first category is straight bankruptcy proceedings in which the debtor can be discharged; the other is special Civil Rehabilitation proceedings for individual debtors. In this Article, I will first give a brief overview of the special Civil Rehabilitation proceedings for individual debtors, including a short (...) description of two types of proceedings, and legislative issues. Then I will give a brief overview of major amendments of the Bankruptcy Law concerning individual bankruptcies, including amendments relating to the scope of exemption and discharge proceedings. (shrink)
Varcoe, Shane Until recently, there has been a largely unnoticed contingent of stakeholders who have not merely abandoned the ideal scenario of a drug free culture, but have quickly stepped through a phase of passive indifference, into what is a 'pro-drug' position in active pursuit of rights for individuals to be protected and supported in their consumption of currently illicit drugs. The players engaged in attempting to bring about this disturbing cultural shift are varied, but certainly these advocates are 'spinning' (...) data and even engaging noble platforms such as 'human rights' to speciously gain leverage. A key strategy in what is now a further 'push' down the slippery slope of dysfunction is the notion of normalisation. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill argued in On Liberty that the sole purpose for which the state can rightly exercise power over an individual is to prevent harm to others. "His own good, either physical or moral," Mill wrote, "is not a sufficient warrant." A century and a half later, although many people think a limited amount of state paternalism is reasonable-for example, to require people to wear seat belts when in a car and motorcycle helmets when riding a motorbike-we tend to (...) agree that the state should not seek to impose its own conception of what is morally right on individuals who are not harming others. One of the implications of this principle is that the state should not prevent people who are terminally or incurably ill from ending their lives when they see fit, as long as they have reached a considered decision about this. Who else can make a better judgment about when life is worth living than the person whose life it is? (shrink)
Actuarial underwriting, or discrimination based on an individual's health status, is a business feature of the voluntary private insurance market. The term “discrimination” in this paper is not intended to convey the concept of unfair treatment, but rather how the insurance industry differentiates among individuals in designing and administering health insurance and employee health benefit products. Discrimination can occur at the point of enrollment, coverage design, or decisions regarding scope of coverage. Several major federal laws aimed at regulating insurance discrimination (...) based on health status focus at the point of enrollment. However, because of multiple exceptions and loopholes, these laws offer relatively limited protections. This paper provides a brief overview of discrimination practices, the federal law, and federal reform options to manage discriminatory practices in the insurance and employee health benefit markets. (shrink)
The disordered state of English law reporting has for long been a favoured theme of writers on the common law. The volume of printed case law, the casual nature of its publication and its variable quality have all been frequently criticized. If earlier centuries had been largely content to express intermittent displeasure, in the nineteenth century concrete solutions were found, the obvious product of this bid to achieve a rational system of law reporting being the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (...) and its authoritative series of Law Reports. But if ultimately reform of the system was only realized once the profession seized the initiative in the middle of the nineteenth century, it would be an error to suppose that schemes for reform had not been conceived in earlier times. After all, only by a miracle could anything as blatantly haphazard as the quality of law reporting have escaped the strictures of major reformers. (shrink)
In an effort at ethical reform, Taiwan recently revised the Hospice Palliative Care Law authorising family members or physicians to make surrogate decisions to discontinue life-sustaining treatment if an incompetent terminally ill patient did not express their wishes while still competent. In particular, Article 7 of the new law authorises the palliative care team, namely the physicians, to act as sole decision-makers on behalf of the incompetent terminally ill patient's best interests if no family member is available. However, the (...) law fails to provide guidance as to what constitutes the patient's best interests or what specific procedures the treating physicians should follow, and so has raised constitutional concerns. It may be difficult to translate ethical reform into law but it is not impossible if essential requirements are carefully followed. First, there must be substantial nexus between the purpose of the statute and the measures provided under the statute. Second, advocates need to convince the public that futility or waste has amounted to a public health emergency so as to justify lower procedural requirements. Third, a remedy or compensation should be available if the surrogate decisions have not been appropriately made. Fourth, minimum procedural safeguards are necessary even though the statute is intended to reduce the procedural burdens of making surrogate decisions on behalf of incompetent patients who lack family members and did not express their wishes while still competent. (shrink)
The past three decades have seen a decline in traditional industries in the United Kingdom and there has been a relative decline in the value of physical assets to the UK economy. At the same time, the value of intangible assets seen in intellectual property rights have increased considerably. As such, IP rights represent important assets for companies and often comprise the foundation for market dominance and continued profitability. There is a structural uncertainty in the law relating to the use (...) of IP as collateral for the purpose of raising debt finance and this may impact upon the survival of firms with high ratios of intangible to tangible assets. This article considers the proper goals for an effective credit and security regime in IP. It examines the significance of the availability of collateral to the lending decision and also considers whether the reluctance to maximise the use of IP as security reflects inherent difficulties which arise out of the nature of IP as economic assets. This has implications for the reform of English personal property security law and the development of bright line priority rules associated with Article 9 of the US Uniform Commercial Code which is often cited as a model for reform of English law. (shrink)
Straipsnyje nagrinėjamas Lietuvos Respublikos darbo ginčų instituto reformavimas ir kaita Nepriklausomybės laikotarpiu atskirų Europos Sąjungos valstybių patirties kontekste. Darbo ginčų reforma Lietuvoje minimu laikotarpiu vyko keliais etapais, iš jų paskutinysis, prasidėjęs 2013 m. sausio 1 d., pakeitė darbo ginčų komisijų organizavimo tvarką, šias komisijas pradėjus kurti teritoriniu principu, prie veikiančių Valstybinės darbo inspekcijos teritorinių padalinių, nustačius, kad į darbo ginčų komisiją su skundu gali kreiptis ne tik darbuotojas, bet ir darbdavys, įvedus kitas naujoves. Tačiau šie pokyčiai vis dar neatspindi europinių (...) tendencijų, kiek įmanoma mažiau institucionalizuoti ikiteisminę individulių darbo ginčų nagrinėjimo tvarką. Straipsnyje akcentuojama mintis, jog darbo ginčų instituto reforma laikytina nebaigta ir, tikėtina, bus tęsiama, remiantis pažangiausia kai kurių ES valstybių praktika šioje srityje, tačiau išlaikant nacionalinį teisinio reguliavimo ypatumą. (shrink)
This article explores the relevance of disagreement about values and about the functions and effects of law to debates concerning the appropriate relationship between courts and legislatures, common law and statute. Recent developments in tort law provide a context for the discussion. The argument is that in general, political processes of law-making should be preferred judicial processes.