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The Canadian Living Tree Doctrine as a Comparative Model of Evolutionary Constitutional Interpretation

Abstract

This paper starts with a general contextualisation of how Canadian constitutional law acquired an important role in global constitutional conversations in recent decades. It then considers, in particular, the well-known Canadian Living tree doctrine as a model of evolutionary constitutional interpretation, and argues that it is a relevant case study for our purposes since it is able to precisely link the ‘history, evolution, influence and reform’ of constitutional law in a comprehensive doctrine. The doctrine's comparative influence will be analysed in particular: the Living tree is especially relevant, since its comparative influence is traceable both in the work of courts that are historical participants in transnational judicial conversations, and courts that are new players in the game.

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Normative and Institutional Dimensions of Rights’ Adjudication Around the World

Abstract

The implications of incommensurability for rights’ adjudication tend to be overlooked in much of contemporary constitutional theory. This paper criticizes the dominant “one right-answer” approach to conflicts of rights, and develops an alternative approach that is better suited to constitutional rights’ adjudication in contemporary pluralistic legal orders. It is submitted that the normative reasons for having courts undertake the value-choices implicit in constitutional rights’ adjudication, and for preferring certain legal methodologies over others, must reflect the role of courts in resolving social disputes in the light of specific aspects of the economic, social, and legal life of the polities in which those courts operate. It is further argued that any theory that builds from this approach needs to answer two inter-related questions: when is constitutional rights’ adjudication by courts appropriate, and how rights’ adjudication should be pursued.

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An Opportunity for Reflection – A Special Issue on “The Constitution of Canada: History, Evolution, Influence and Reform”

Abstract

Canada is and will for the foreseeable future be a peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy whose Constitution Act, 1867, now 150 years old as of 2017, has become a model for the modern world. The Constitution of Canada has exerted considerable influence on other countries, particularly since the coming into force of its Constitution Act, 1982, which included the celebrated Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Just as Canada drew from foreign and international experiences in drafting its Charter, the world has learned a great deal from Canada, not only as to rights protections but also as to the separation of powers, the judicial function, and the structure of government.

In light of these impressive achievements, an international symposium on the Canadian Constitution was held in Pisa at the Scuola Sant’Anna under the auspices of the Sant’Anna Legal Studies project and with the support of the DIRPOLIS (Law, Politics and Development) Institute at the Scuola Sant’Anna, the Canadian Embassy in Italy, and the International Association of Constitutional Law. This special issue collects some of the papers presented on that occasion.

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Sub-national constitutional politics: contesting or complementing, replicating or innovating, traditional constitutionalism?

Abstract

This special issue of Perspectives on Federalism collects papers mostly presented at the General Conference of the European Consortium of Political Research in September 2014. The issue contains five papers dealing with the role, the status, the dynamics, and the functions of sub-national constitutional politics and sub-national constitutionalism in a number of member states of the EU as well as in a comparative, non-EU perspective. Even though the papers take different perspectives on the topic at hand, they all engage with the contribution sub-national constitutions can make to democracy and the nationstate within as well as outside of Europe.

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Reflections About Public Property In The Romanian Constitutional System And Comparative Law – Selective Aspects

Abstract

What seems relevant for the present study to highlight is the approach evolving reflections about public property in the Romanian constitutional system and comparative law.

The subject of the scientific endeavour will be circumscribed to the scientific analysis of its parts, as follows: 1) Introduction. 2) Identification of constitutional rules on public property in Romanian constitutional system and comparative law. 3) Highlights of Romanian doctrine and comparative law on public property. 4. Highlights of jurisprudence regarding public property. 5) Conclusions.

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A ‘second youth’ for the EU Speakers’ Conference? A critical appraisal of its ‘quasi-constitutional’ role

Abstract

The EU Speakers’ Conference has experienced a ‘second youth’ after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon by playing a ‘quasi-constitutional’ role in inter-parliamentary cooperation, and in particular by trying to exercise a rule-making function over the many inter-parliamentary venues of the EU’s system of government. The fulfilment of such a function has certainly not been made any easier as a consequence of the constitutional constraints surrounding the positions of the Speakers and Presidents of the European and Member States’ (MS) Parliaments, with a considerable variety in terms of powers and decision-making capacity among the MS and the EU. Despite these limitations, the ‘quasi-constitutional’ role of the EU Speakers’ Conference has mainly consisted of approving guidelines, if not directly rules of procedure, for other inter-parliamentary venues. It has also been argued that the coordinating function of the EU Speakers’ Conference can be much more effective when looking at its ‘quasi-constitutional’ role, and also in its function of joint parliamentary scrutiny in the EU, if it is aimed at enhancing the rational organisation of inter-parliamentary activities in terms of timing, agendas and ex-post supervision of the results, in the absence of any other possible alternative to the Speakers’ leadership.

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From Judicial Transplants to Judicial Translations: Constitutional Courts in Southern Africa – A Comparative Review

Summary

The contemporary legal landscape in Southern Africa and its responsiveness to the challenges in the region can be explained in many ways. Part of the explanation has been the idea of legal transplants—which entails borrowing and adapting legal norms, and structures from different legal systems in order to resolve legal problems in the region. The end of apartheid and other rapid changes in the region—political, racial, economic and social—has directly placed the courts on the frontlines of human rights protection especially on socio-economic rights and other overarching concerns of law reform. The adoption of constitutional courts in some of the countries, and consequent judicial activist turn in the jurisprudence of courts in the region generally; has inserted the courts into the mainstream of policy deliberations. Thus, this paper claims that legal transplant per se does not explain the full reality of what is going on in the region—in terms of nomativization, transmission, adoption, and adaptation of legal ideas within the respective systems in the region. It further claims that a mesh of different understandings and approaches to legal comparison and development is more suitable as a method of studying pluralist complex systems as we see in the region. Hence, the notion of judicial translation—the judiciary forming the membrane, purveyor and capillary of legal transmission—as an essential lens through which we can better view and understand the legal evolution in the region. Taking the institution of courts – particularly constitutional courts—and examining their jurisprudence as epitomized in some of their decisions of finality—the work seeks to begin a meaningful deliberation about the role of courts in law, social change, and policy in the region. It is divided into three major parts for ease of discourse. It is hoped that this would be a fitting exordium into the more significant meaning of legal transplant through judicial intervention in otherwise predominantly policy questions in the Southern African region.

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