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    It is often claimed in the media and in political and academic debates that more law nurtures more research, which in turn should generate more information. However, the question researchers are left with is: What does this mean for comparative law and its methods? This paper takes the context of European consumer sales law as an example of the web of rules applicable at both European and national level. In this context, the main idea behind this article is that looking at law and research as data to be built upon and used in further analysis can revolutionise the way in which legal research is understood. This is because current research methods in European consumer sales law fall short of systematically analysing the essential weaknesses of the current regulation system. In this contribution, I argue that the volume of regulation in European consumer law is large enough for it to be considered Big Data and analysed in a way that can harness its potential in this respect. I exemplify this claim with a case-study consisting in the setting up of a Convergence Index that maps the converging effect of harmonizing policies adopted by the European legislator in the field of

Catalina Goanta
Assistant Professor of Private Law, Maastricht Law School, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

    Comparative methodology is an important and a widely used method in the legal literature. This method is important inter alia to search for alternative national rules and acquire a deeper understanding of a country’s law. According to a survey of over 500 Dutch legal scholars, 61 per cent conducts comparative research (in some form). However, the methodological application of comparative research generally leaves much to be desired. This is particularly true when it comes to case selection. This applies in particular to conceptual and dogmatic research questions, possibly also allowing causal explanations for differences between countries. This article suggests that the use of an interdisciplinary research design could be helpful, and Hofstede’s cultural-psychological dimensions can offer a solution to improve the methodology of selection criteria.

Dave van Toor
D.A.G. van Toor, PhD LLM BSc works as a researcher and lecturer in Criminal (Procedural) Law and Criminology at the Universität Bielefeld.

    In this paper, an attempt is made to work out a methodology for comparative legal research, which goes beyond the ‘functional method’ or methodological scepticism.
    The starting point is the idea that we need a ‘toolbox’, not a fixed methodological road map, and that a lot of published, but largely unnoticed, research outside rule and case oriented comparative law offers varying approaches, which could usefully be applied in comparative research. Six methods have been identified: the functional method, the structural one, the analytical one, the law-in-context method, the historical method, and the common core method. Basically, it is the aim of the research and the research question that will determine which methods could be useful. Moreover, different methods may be combined, as they are complementary and not mutually exclusive.This paper focuses on scholarly comparative legal research, not on the use of foreign law by legislators or courts, but, of course, the methodological questions and answers will largely overlap.

Mark Van Hoecke
Professor of Comparative Law at Queen Mary University of London, and Professor of Legal Theory and Comparative Law at Ghent University

    In this article I plead for utilitarianism as guideline for the editor. The article consists mostly of rebuttals of a number of traditional objections against utilitarianism. In particular (but not exclusively) the following objections are discussed:

    1. It is impossible to predict the consequences of legislative measures.

    2. Legislation should be evaluated procedurally (democratically), rather than by a substantive standard.

    3. Utilitarianism allows the sacrifice of the interests or even rights of some on behalf of those of others.

    4. Utilitarianism leads to results that are sometimes strongly counterintuitive.

    A substantial part of the article consists of a discussion of coherentism as method for, amongst others, normative reasoning.

Jaap Hage

    This article shows that the debate about the possibility and desirability of a rigid distinction between discovery and justification is being muddled because of differences and ambiguities in the way that different writers use the terms ‘discovery,’ ‘justification,’ and related terms. The article argues that merely distinguishing between ‘discovery’ and ‘justification’ is not precise enough, and that we should make a distinction between different elements within each of these contexts. I propose a six-fold classification, through which we can identify reasons, acts, and processes that play a role both in the context of discovery and in the context of justification. This six-fold classification enables us to move forward from debating whether discovery and justification can be rigidly separated, towards articulating how each element (reasons, acts, and processes) has a role to play in each of the contexts (discovery and justification), and how these elements and contexts are related.

Luiz Silveira

Access_open A Plea for Rigorous Conceptual Analysis as a Central Method in Transnational Law Design

Offer and Acceptance as Juridical Acts in the Draft Common Frame of Reference as a Case in Point

Journal Law and Method, January 2013
Keywords DCFR, Conceptual Analysis, Juridical Acts, Transnational Law Design
Authors Rudolf Rijgersberg and Hester van der Kaaij
AbstractAuthor's information

    Although shared legal problems are generally easily identified in transnational law design, it is considerably more difficult to design frameworks that transcend the peculiarities of local law univocally. The following exposition is a plea for giving more prominence to rigorous conceptual analysis in transnational law design in order to disambiguate the terms used in such frameworks. It does this by taking the formation of contracts in the model rules of the Draft Common Frame of Reference (DCFR) as a case in point. A conceptual analysis of the basic legal notion ‘juridical act’ in its model rules for contract law shows that the DCFR allows for two mutually conflicting interpretations of contract formation that are by no means fictional. A rigorous conceptual analysis of basic legal notions in the formative stages of transnational law design would have prevented a conflation of two legal traditions resulting in an ambiguous legal framework. As such it is an indispensable method for achieving a univocal interpretation of the legal end product.

Rudolf Rijgersberg
Rudolf Rijgersberg is assistant professor Methods and Foundations of Law at Maastricht University.

Hester van der Kaaij
Hester van der Kaaij is promovendus PhD candidate in Legal Theory at Maastricht University.

Bald de Vries
Bald de Vries is universitair docent Rechtstheorie aan de Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid van de Universiteit Utrecht en tevens redactielid van Recht en Methode.

Access_open Hoe moet recht worden onderwezen?

Journal Law and Method, February 2012
Keywords curriculum rechtenstudie, aard van het recht, positief recht, (hulp)wetenschappen
Authors Jaap Hage
AbstractAuthor's information

    The central issue of this paper is to outline a scientifically oriented course in law. Most actual courses focus on positive law, and the main conclusion of this paper is that this is wrong. This conclusion is based on the premise that law is not by definition positive law, but the answer to the question which rules should be enforced by collective means. This premise is argued in the full paper.Positive law is law to the extent that it should be enforced by collective means, and not by definition. Therefore a scientific course in law should pay some attention to positive law, but should not assign it the dominant place in the curriculum which it presently tends to have.To make this abstract idea more concrete, some proposals are made for a law curriculum. The starting point is that the law bachelor should only address positive law where this is necessary for exercises in legal reasoning. Moreover it should address the viable fundamental visions on the nature of law, the main theories about normative reasoning (main currents in ethics), and the facts which are relevant in the light of these normative theories for the question which norms should be enforced by collective means. These facts include both positive law and the results of the different sciences (e.g. psychology, sociology, economy, and biology) which are relevant to answer the normative question. Because there are too many scientific results to take in during a bachelor course, the study of the sciences should be replaced by an introduction to scientific method, which allows lawyers to evaluate the outcomes of scientific research. Finally, the bachelor course should also address ‘generic positive law’, the main questions which must be answered by legal systems and the most viable answers to these questions.The master phase of the curriculum should, for those lawyers who want to practice the positive law of a particular jurisdiction, be filled with the detailed study of the relevant positive law.

Jaap Hage
Jaap Hage is hoogleraar Algemene rechtsleer aan Maastricht University.
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