AALL 2019 Call for Bloggers

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We are hoping to once again provide robust coverage of the AALL Annual Meeting.  With this in mind, we are looking for volunteers to recap one or more programs in Atlanta. It’s a great way to serve the SIS and help those who can’t attend the Annual Meeting to learn a little.

Below are a list of some of the programs that we think would be especially interesting to FCIL-SIS members, but we are always open to members covering other programs, so if you’re going to be at something and would like to cover it, just let us know. To volunteer for any of the programs below or any other program, just email Alyson Drake at alyson.drake@ttu.edu.

Saturday, July 13:

  • 8:45am-12:00pm:  FCIL Bootcamp: Basic Training (Offsite–Georgetown)
  • 1:30pm-5:00pm:  FCIL Bootcamp: Advanced Training (Offsite-Georgetown)

Sunday, July 14:

  • 11:30am-12:30pm:  GDPR: What Your Library Needs to Know (WCC Room 147 AB)
  • 12:45pm-2:15pm:  FCIL-SIS Business Meeting (WCC Room 102 A)
  • 2:30pm-3:30pm:  Growing Out, Not Climbing Up (WCC Room 146 A)
  • 4:00pm-5:15pm:  Diversity & Inclusion Symposium: Privilege and Power in Legal Environments: Overcoming Barriers to Entry and Advancement (WCC Room 146 A)

Monday, July 15:

  • 9:30am-10:30am: Hungry, Hungry Hypos: Designing Raw Materials for Problem-Based Instruction (WCC Room 145 AB)
  • 9:30am-10:3am: Polishing Your Public Speaking: Beyond Picturing People in Their Underpants (WCC Room 150 AB)
  • 11:00am-12:00pm: The Age of AI: Emerging Regulatory Landscape Around the World (WCC Room 146 A)
  • 11:00am-12:00pm: Let’s Get Experiential! Creating Strategic Partnerships to Develop Experiential Simulation Courses (WCC Room 150 AB)
  • 1:30-2:45pm:  FCIL-SIS Teaching Foreign and International Legal Research Interest Group Meeting (Marriott Magnolia)
  • 3:00-4:00pm:  Locating Latin American Legal Sources (WCC Room 145 AB)
  • 5:30-6:30pm:  FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians Recipient Presentation (Marriott Marquis Ballroom Salon 4)

Tuesday, July 16:

  • 8:30am-9:30am:  Instruction Zone: Active Learning Ideas Showcase (WCC Room 145 AB)
  • 11:15am-12:15pm: Social Media as Primary Sources of Government Information (WCC 145 AB)
  • 11:15am-12:15pm: Better with Science: Strengthening Patron Learning (WCC Room 152 AB)

ASIL 2019 Recap: Litigating Climate Change: New Legal Challenges

Climate_change_icon.pngBy Mariana Newman

At 9:00am on Friday, March 29, 2019, Judith Levine, Senior Legal Counsel at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, moderated a panel discussion which addressed, in her words, the role for lawyers to address climate change when political leaders do not. Joining Levine were Michael Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Law School and director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law; Kristin Casper, Senior Legal Counsel for Strategic Litigation at Greenpeace International; and Paula Henin, a senior associate at Freshfields in New York working in the international arbitration group. In her opening remarks, Levine said that litigation in this area is an opportunity for lawyers to demonstrate “courage, creativity, and innovation.”

Gerrard highlighted a number of areas of litigation. Around 1300 climate lawsuits have been filed around the world, with the United States leading the way in the number of suits, followed by Australia and the United Kingdom.

In the United States, the largest number of cases filed have been under the National Environmental Policy Act, claiming an insufficient consideration of climate change in environmental impact reports.

Gerrard mentioned that public nuisance doctrine cases have reemerged under state common law, since the Supreme Court had held in American Electric Power v. Connecticut that the Clean Air Act displaced any federal common law claims.  There have also been securities fraud lawsuits, mostly against Exxon.

Gerrard discussed an ongoing case brought under public trust doctrine and substantive due process theories, Juliana v. United States. In that case, young people sued the United States government arguing that it has an obligation to protect the atmosphere and seeking an order that would force the government to aggressively cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. Currently the 9th Circuit interlocutory appeal is being briefed.

He then turned to cases from outside the United States, including Urgenda Foundation v. State of the Netherlands. In that case, a Dutch environmental group and 800 Dutch citizens sued their government, arguing that it was not doing enough to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The trial court ruled that the government had violated their duty of care under Dutch law to take climate change mitigation measures. The appellate court affirmed the judgment for the plaintiffs under different grounds: that the government had an obligation under Articles II and IX of the European Convention on Human Rights to do more to fight climate change. This case is now being appealed to the highest court in the Netherlands.  Gerrard also discussed cases in Pakistan and Peru.

Next, Kristin Casper from Greenpeace International took to the podium. She described climate change as a “human rights crisis” and highlighted three of Greenpeace’s cases where local communities are using legal tools to “seek climate justice.”

In Norway, Greenpeace Nordic partnered with a Norwegian organization that sued the government, arguing that the issuance of oil and gas leases in Arctic waters was in contradiction with Norway’s international commitments and a breach of constitutional protections for future generations, the right to a healthy environment, and other human rights standards. The lower court found that the right to a healthy environment was, as Casper called it, a “claimable right with teeth,” but it did not find that the right was violated in this particular factual scenario. The case has been appealed.

In Switzerland, Greenpeace Switzerland supported a group of over 1000 senior citizen women who brought a case arguing that the government’s inadequate climate change policies contributed to heatwaves, putting their lives and health at risk. The decision in the lower court was not favorable, but the case is now on appeal.

In the Philippines, a group of Typhoon Haiyan survivors joined by Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines and other organizations filed a legal petition with the Commission on Human Rights, seeking to hold major carbon-producing companies accountable for climate impacts that result in human rights harms. There have been 12 hearings, 26 community witnesses, and 52 experts who have given evidence, all of which can be viewed online.  The Commission has the ability to issue a report with recommendations and to continue to monitor the human rights situation in the Philippines with respect to climate change.

Finally, it was Paula Henin’s turn to share her insights.  First, she discussed mechanisms for interstate disputes arising out of substantive obligations of the Paris Agreement.

Article 14 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is incorporated by reference in Article 24 of the Paris Agreement. Article 14-1 allows parties to settle disputes through negotiation and the peaceful means of their own choice, which could include arbitration or mediation. Article 14-2 states that contracting parties may consent by a separate written instrument to the compulsory submission of disputes to the International Court of Justice and/or to arbitration in accordance with procedures to be provided in an arbitration annex to be adopted by the Conference of the Parties “as soon as possible.” However, no arbitration annex has yet been adopted.

Henin also described the possibility for the UN General Assembly to refer legal questions to the International Court of Justice for advisory opinions. There has been discussion of using that mechanism for climate change issues.

Next Henin turned to disputes involving private actors. Most investor-state disputes go to arbitration under treaties or under investment contracts. In the arena of treaty-based arbitration, Henin said that there have been over 40 claims brought against Spain, Italy, and the Czech Republic after those states backpedaled on incentive schemes put in place to promote renewable energy levels. She said that some recent arbitral decisions have opened the door for a new mechanism in investor-state arbitration: environmental counterclaims against investors brought by states. Investment contracts may incorporate specific emission reduction obligations or arbitration clauses may be included in contractual commitments that arise directly out of Kyoto Protocol mechanisms like carbon emission trading or climate finance.

To conclude the panel, Casper exhorted the attendees to devote their intelligence and resources to working to make progress on climate change.

ASIL 2019 Recap: Regional Human Rights Bodies as Instruments of International Law: Contradiction and Fragmentation

By Caitlin Hunter

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Organization of American States

In Regional Human Rights Bodies as Instruments of International Law: Contradiction and Fragmentation, panelists discussed fragmentation among the three major regional human rights courts: the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACtHPR). Elena Abrusci provided insights from her research at the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre. Silivia Serrano Guzmán and moderator Christina Cerna drew on their experiences working for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Finally, Thomas Antkowiak drew on his work advocating before the IACtHR and ACtHPR as director of the International Human Rights Clinic at Seattle University School of Law. The panelists provided detailed, meticulously researched analysis of what fragmentation is; why and when it happens; and its impact.

  1. What is fragmentation?

Fragmentation occurs when international tribunals reach conflicting decisions on how to apply international law to similar scenarios.

  1. Why does fragmentation happen?

Abrusci identified two primary reasons:

  • Different judges. Abrusci’s data suggested that judges on the IACtHR and the ACtHPR are worldlier than their counterparts on the ECtHR. 70-80% of ACtHPR judges and 50-60% of IACtHR judges had received their legal education on another continent, mostly in Europe. In contrast, less than 10% of ECtHR judges had received their legal education outside of Europe. Similarly, 10-20% of ACtHPR and IACtHR judges had worked for a UN human rights body but less than 4% of ECtHR judges had done so.
  • Different deference standards. The ECtHR applies the margin of appreciation doctrine, which allows states some flexibility in applying the European Convention on Human Rights (European Convention) and takes into account the current consensus among European states. In contrast, the IACtHR applies the conventionality control doctrine, which requires all states to fully comply with the American Convention on Human Rights (American Convention).
  1. When does fragmentation happen?

Rarely. Panelists agreed that convergence is the norm and fragmentation is the exception. The IACtHR routinely looks to ECtHR jurisprudence and the ECtHR has looked to IACtHR jurisprudence in areas where it is more developed, as when the ECtHR adjudicated forced disappearances in Kosovo. However, panelists identified several notable examples of fragmentation:

  • Same-sex marriage. The ECtHR observed that most European states do not allow same-sex marriage and, applying the margin of appreciation, declined to interpret the right to marriage to include the right to same-sex marriage.[1] In contrast, the IACtHR explicitly rejected the ECtHR’s reliance on consensus and suggested that the right to marriage also applies to same-sex couples.[2]
  • The right to a criminal appeal. A protocol to the European Convention explicitly states that the right to a criminal appeal does not apply if the defendant is convicted by the country’s highest court or after an acquittal is overturned.[3] In contrast, the IACtHR has held that the right to an appeal applies in both of these situations.[4]
  • Indigenous property rights. The ECtHR has repeatedly failed to acknowledge indigenous collective property rights, ignoring not only well-developed IACtHR jurisprudence, but also an ILO convention and UN resolution.[5]
  • Reparations to victims. The ECtHR provides only a limited set of primarily financial remedies, while the IACtHR employs holistic remedies such as ordering the state to build medical centers, provide victims with scholarships, and formally apologize. Generally, panelists preferred the IACtHR’s approach but acknowledged that the IACtHR had sometimes ordered reparations so broad that they were effectively impossible to implement, as when the IACtHR ordered Honduras to ensure that all of its hundreds of prisons complied with all international human rights laws.

There are also notable examples where the courts have fragmented and then re-converged:

  • Access to information. The IACtHR interprets the right to freedom of expression to include a right to access to information.[6] The ECtHR initially rejected this view[7] but has gradually moved towards it, invoking the margin of appreciation and the growing consensus of European states in favor of access to information.[8] Paradoxically, although the ECtHR’s margin of appreciation typically causes fragmentation, here it permitted the ECtHR to converge towards the IACtHR.
  • The right to life. Under the IACtHR’s vida digna (dignified life) doctrine, the right to life incorporates social, economic, and cultural rights, such as the rights to food, shelter, and work. Although the UN Human Rights Committee has adopted the vida digna doctrine,[9] the ECtHR has generally ignored it and the ACtHPR has explicitly rejected it.[10] Advocates for social, economic, and cultural rights argue that treating them as a subset of the right to life subordinates them to civil and political rights and hinders their individual conceptual development. The IACtHR has begun to converge with the other two courts, applying the vida digna doctrine only to especially vulnerable groups, such as homeless children,[11] and finding alternative strategies to incorporate social, economic, and cultural rights.[12]
  1. Is fragmentation bad or good?

Like the panelists on the earlier Fragmentation in International Data Protection Law panel, panelists did not believe that fragmentation was inherently bad. In fact, panelists argued that some fragmentation among the regional human rights courts could help propel the development of new theories in international human rights law.

 

[1] Schalk and Kopf v. Austria, App. No. 30141/04, Eur. Ct. H.R. (2010), http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-99605; Chapin and Charpentier v. France, App. No. 40183/07, Eur. Ct. H.R. (2016), http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-163436.

[2] State Obligations Concerning Change of Name, Gender Identity, and Rights Derived from a Relationship Between Same-Sex Couples, Advisory Opinion OC-24/17, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. A) No. 24 (Nov. 24, 2017), http://www.corteidh.or.cr/cf/Jurisprudencia2/busqueda_opiniones_consultivas.cfm?lang=en.

[3] Article 2(2) of the Protocol No. 7 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, ETS No.117, https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/117.

[4] Barreto Leiva v. Venezuela, Merits, Reparations and Costs, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 206 (Nov. 31, 2009), http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_206_ing.pdf; Mohamed v. Argentina, Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 255 (Nov. 23, 2012), http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_255_ing.pdf.

[5] Elena Abrusci, Judicial Fragmentation on Indigenous Property Rights: Causes, Consequences and Solutions, 21 The International Journal of Human Rights 550–564 (2017), https://doi.org/10.1080/13642987.2017.1307830.

[6] Claude-Reyes et al. v. Chile, Merits, Reparations and Costs, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 151 (Sept. 19, 2006), http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_151_ing.pdf.

[7] Leander v. Sweden, App. No. 9248/81, Eur. Ct. H.R. (1987), http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-57519.

[8] Magyar Helsinki Bizottság v. Hungary, App. No. 18030/11, Eur. Ct. H.R. (2016), http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-167828.

[9] General Comment 36, para. 3 (2018), https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/1_Global/CCPR_C_GC_36_8785_E.pdf.

[10] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v Kenya, App. No. 006/2012, Judgement, 26 May 2017, para. 154, http://www.african-court.org/en/images/Cases/Judgment/Application%20006-2012%20-%20African%20Commission%20on%20Human%20and%20Peoples%E2%80%99%20Rights%20v.%20the%20Republic%20of%20Kenya..pdf.

[11] Villagrin-Morales et al. v. Guatemala, Merits, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 63 (Nov. 19, 1999), http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_63_ing.pdf.

[12] Lagos del Campo v. Peru, Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 340 (Aug. 31, 2017), http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_340_esp.pdf.

ASIL 2019 Recap: Fragmentation in International Data Protection Law

By Caitlin Hunter

In Fragmentation in International Data Protection Law, panelists discussed the rapidly spreading and often contradictory laws protecting consumer data, incorporating the perspectives of corporations (Geff Brown, Microsoft), consumer activist groups (Carolina Rossini, Access Now), academia (Peter Swire, Professor of Law and Ethics at Georgia Tech), and government (Justin Antonipillai, formerly of the Department of Commerce and currently of WireWheel). Here are five key take-aways:

  1. Data protection laws have gone from a parochial European phenomenon to a global trend.

Traditionally, European countries have been particularly active in pushing for data protection, as shown most recently in the EU’s enactment of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, laws are spreading rapidly, with over one hundred countries implementing some sort of protections. All four of the BRICs countries have adopted or are considering data protection laws and the U.S. Congress is increasingly debating the issue. U.S. states are also passing data protection laws, including the recently enacted California Consumer Privacy Act and initiatives to pass laws in Vermont, Washington, and Massachusetts.

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Website of AccessNow, a consumer activism group, where panelist Carolina Rossini works.


2. Data’s move into the cloud means that data protection laws anywhere affect data everywhere.

Today, users anywhere may be accessing data on a server located anywhere and, as a result, domestic or regional data protection laws impact the entire world. U.S. organizations scrambling to comply with the EU’s GDPR are familiar with this, but the impact flows in the opposite direction, too. Before the recent passage of the U.S. CLOUD Act, a police officer who was investigating a local crime in the EU but needed evidence from a server in the U.S. might have to wait a year or more to get a warrant form a U.S. judge under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. These concerns are not hypothetical- as a Belgian audience member heatedly complained, Microsoft’s Skype is currently fighting for its right not to provide wiretaps ordered by Belgian courts.

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GDPR website

 

 

  1. Fragmentation between data protection laws stems from different regions’ fundamentally different privacy frameworks.

European countries view privacy as a basic human right, enshrined in their Constitutions, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This contrasts sharply with the U.S.’s strong emphasis on freedom of information. Typically, Americans assume that personal data can be used, unless there is a justification for prohibiting it, while Europeans assume that personal data cannot be used, unless there is a justification for permitting it. One panelist reported that an EU official privately confided that big data is probably illegal under the GDPR. If this conflict is not resolved, it will upend industries that have premised their future on massive use of big data.

ASILFragmentation WireWheel homepage.PNG

Website of WireWheel, where panelist Justin Antonipillai works.

 

  1. Compromises have broken down.

For years, U.S. companies and European countries accommodated their conflicting frameworks through a deal in which U.S. companies publically pledged to comply with EU data protection laws, allowing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to take action against the companies for misrepresentation under U.S. law if the companies violated EU law. However, the future of this deal is in doubt, as the EU grows increasingly concerned with privacy. In 2015, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) struck down the original version of the deal, called the U.S.-E.U. Safe Harbor, in Maximillian Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner, C-362/14. Although the U.S. Department of Commerce quickly negotiated a new deal, now dubbed the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, Schrems challenged the new deal, too, and it is again headed back to the ECJ, its future dubious. If the ECJ decides that U.S. privacy protections remain inadequate, this will impact not only tech companies in the U.S. but in any country that does not share the EU’s high level of privacy protection.

  1. Consistent laws are needed- but not necessarily uniform laws.

The fragmentation of data protection law has left tech companies scrambling to reconcile hundreds of conflicting laws. Within the U.S., many now advocate for a single, national data protection law, including the Chamber of Commerce and panelist Justin Antonipillai. However, even panelist Geff Brown of Microsoft believed that it was not only unlikely but undesirable to push for uniform laws internationally. Instead, he encouraged countries to develop a global forum that would allow them to create laws that reflect their own values but are consistent enough to be interoperable.

ASIL 2019 Recap: The Law (and Politics) of Displacement

By Meredith Capps

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On Thursday, March 28, Jill Goldenziel of Marine Corps University moderated a discussion on legal and political challenges surrounding forced displacement, which is at an all-time high. Panelists included Itamar Mann of the University of Haifa; Daniel P. Sullivan of Refugees International; Alice Farmer, the Legal Officer for UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)in Washington, D.C.; and Kristina Campbell, a clinical faculty member at the University of the District of Columbia.

Mann discussed some history of international law governing displaced persons, including the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which, in part, facilitated population exchange and redistribution between Greece and Turkey. In the human rights era following the World Wars, the forced movement of groups of persons became “the paradigm of a criminal act,”  with freedom of movement established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and forced movement of populations prohibited in the Geneva Conventions. Mann identified the movement of Syrians out of Greece as a current challenge, and climate change as the impetus for movement a future issue.

Sullivan discussed the displacement of the Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh, where roughly 1 million people now reside in camps. Rendered stateless in Myanmar as “illegal Bengalis,” the Rohingya are also not protected as refugees in Bangladesh (who has considered moving some to a disaster prone island in the Bay of Bengal). Despite clear evidence of criminal activity by Myanmar officials, an ICC referral may be blocked by Russia and China, and fact-finding missions and target sanctions have failed to impact change.

Farmer noted that with only 1/4 to 2/3 of displaced persons presently returning to their home state, traditional displacement solutions are no longer viable. Though some characterize migration north from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador as economic migration, current patterns suggest a forced displacement, and UNHCR takes the position that many of those fleeing violence in these regions satisfy refugee criterion. The number of families migrating is particularly significant, and suggests that deterrence is ineffective. These changes in the nature of persecution test of weaknesses in international law, with adjudicators inconsistent in their approach to defining “refugee,” and burden sharing conversations amongst states fraught. While UNHCR is working to increase capacity in the Mexican asylum system and facilitate local integration, its capacity remains vastly below that of the U.S.

Campbell discussed U.S. immigration family detention centers, a new concept established during the mid-2000s. Per the Flores settlement agreement regarding detention conditions for minors, immigration authorities should preference release of minors to parents, and maintain humane, non-secure facilities. She described the few family detention centers in the U.S., and her clinic’s work assisting families in those centers, including credible fear reviews. Campbell said that the Trump administration’s June 2018 executive order did not, in fact, alter its zero tolerance policy that facilitated family separation, and it has no plan to reunite families separated as a result.

The panelists discussed several recurring, fundamental issues during the question-and-answer period. One was the idea of repatriation, with efforts to repatriate Rohingya during the 1970s cited as an effort that failed due to lack of political will, and safety concerns on the part of the group itself; when root causes remain unaddressed, repatriation is not a viable option. Domestic courts do, at times, enforce international norms to protect displaced persons, citing the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant case, but judicial enforcement can generate a backlash. Terminology used to characterize a situation can also either boost or diminishing political will. For example, when an NGO or state uses “ethnic cleansing,” rather than genocide or “crimes against humanity,” public sense of urgency may diminish. Conversely, frequent use of the term “crisis” or “surge” by advocacy groups and the media may desensitize the public.

Goldenziel also discussed the Global Compacts for Refugees and Migration, nonbinding agreements negotiated by many states, including the U.S., and adopted by the UN General Assembly, but whose status under international law is unclear. Negotiations resembled those for a treaty, with some states lodging statements similar to RUDs, and some states appear to consider it forceful despite its nonbinding status. The U.S. withdrew from the compact, citing sovereignty concerns.

ASIL 2019 Recap: Late Breaking Panel: BREXIT and International Law

BrexitBy Marylin Raisch

Moderator: Oonagh Fitzgerald, Director of the International Research Program, Centre for International Governance Innovation, Ontario, Canada

Speakers: Robert Howse, New York University School of Law; Jessica Simonoff, U. S. Department of State; Sir Michael Wood, 20 Essex Street Chambers; Joao Rodrigues, European Parliament Liaison Office

The fact that the very day of this panel at ASIL was originally “Brexit Day,” that is, the day the UK Parliament was to exit the European Union, says a great deal about Brexit and the crisis at the nexus of international and constitutional law that it represents. However, it may happen April 12 if she cannot get her plan passed on this day, which would have given the UK until May 22nd instead.[1] (Or, as of this writing, at the end of this year if Labour cannot join up? Who knows…). This late-breaking panel was scheduled to end at 10:30 a.m., when the straw polling in Parliament on Prime Minister Teresa May’s proposal was to begin. And so it goes. (We learned soon after the panel session broke up that the proposal failed).

After briefly reviewing the timeline from the referendum in 2016, moderator Oohagh Fitzgerald provided a summary of the U.K. Supreme Court Decision of R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union [2017 UKSC 5]  (January 24, 2017). This is notable since the ruling of the court established that the UK executive could not just notify the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU; as with other UK treaties, an Act of Parliament would be required to permit that communication. (There is now in fact a European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 as of Royal Assent dated March 16, 2017). With at least this basic context in place, and some reference to the role of House of Commons speaker Bercow in requiring substantial changes before another vote on the same matter could take place, the Moderator posed a series of questions to the panel.

  1. What is the state of international law in the UK in light of BREXIT? Does it demonstrate that international law is working as it should?

Panelists articulated several perspectives on this excellent question and seemed to cover the range from internationalist to newer reassertions of sovereignty. For example, Sir Michael Wood, who participated in negotiation of the UK treaty of access to the EU in his time as an EU-focused lawyer, stated that EU law is not really autonomous. It is embedded in treaties and so it is largely part of public international law. The issue of Northern Ireland, and the UK ideally remaining in some sort of customs union to avoid a hard border, may become one of rules of interpretation. There is disagreement between the UK and the EU on whether the art. 50 withdrawal mechanism operates to contract the UK out of even customary international law rules. While Sir Michael pointed out that some MPs think “fundamental” and “unforeseen” changes in circumstances are manifested in the backstop situation, and Brexiteers (pro-Brexit MPs and ministers) think this might permit departure from the Brexit agreement (and its backstop under art. 62 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties), he is not sure that this would be so. (Brexiteers want to prevent an eternal tie to the customs union). Many are skeptical that evidence of concern over an issue such as that, expressed in advance, could ever allow that issue to be called “unforeseen.” This panelist shared that skepticism, as he is more of an internationalist and former lawyer working with the UN International Law Commission and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

A different view was taken by the panelist from the current US State Department. Jessica Simonoff viewed Brexit as an outsider and saw it as not about development of supranational governments but rather as showing the ongoing significance of national identity. The rules are developed by consent, as underscored by the ability to depart from a treaty.  International law is alive and well because even after the UK delegated some of its international negotiating authority to the EU, it now can re-familiarize itself with some international law rules.

Professor Howse of NYU Law then contributed insights from international economic law as he pointed out that the UK would still be under the multilateral rules of the WTO. The logistics of new trade agreements and the hard border are not like the arrangements around which supply chains are organized. Pro-Brexit forces seem to him not to understand how new globalized trade actually works now, and a hard Brexit would create initial chaos with serious shortages of goods, at least temporarily. He also commented on the politics of Brexit, which he attributed in part not to a return to lost sovereignty, but to the work of elites using populism for political career advancement.

Panelist Rodrigues quipped that he “owns” his hat as EU bureaucrat. However, he prefers the term civil servant, a profession her noted ironically was established by the British.  The EU is an international organization, but one created by a body of laws that has a constitutional nature. He sees Brexit not really a legal question, because it is allowed under the treaty in the procedure outlined by the UK case. Moreover, a case went to the European Court of Justice on the issue of unilateral withdrawal from the Brexit process, and it was ruled permissible if done democratically. So the legal part is all sorted. But he asked the political question of how does a member state get itself to a decision to leave? What is disturbing is that here we are on Brexit Day and there is no clear manifestation of British will. International law is well; political process in Britain is not.

  1. May cannot use crown prerogative per the Miller case, in this instance of a treaty, but now can she not move ahead with a statute in place?

Sir Michael Wood pointed out that even with some of the specific legal hurdles surmounted, the situation carries huge implications for UK constitutional law and there should never have been a referendum. While the rule of law and the idea that a minister cannot put same issue to vote twice in same Parliament is the same rule that in UN from parliamentary procedure.  Treaties are executive and Parliament is not usually part of negotiations. In this case it has led to big problems.

Ms. Simonoff and Professor Howse, sharing a US perspective, observed that whether the UK is able to pull out of treaty has been moved to Parliament as a matter of constitutional law. Simonoff then compared the process to NAFTA withdrawal and Congressional involvement in those types of agreements. Howse noted and agreed that NAFTA would need some Congressional action for withdrawal. For WTO withdrawal, he speculated, were it to be contemplated, it would have to be based on resolutions of Congress, because the provision for review works through a Congressional process.

Rodrigues noted that there the Task Force on Article 50 Negotiations website was quite transparent, and indicated publicly what they would or would not accept. The EU 27 were united in how to deal with situation. Unlike Professor Howse, however, he thought populism played a crucial role.

  1. Is there a new bilateralism? Will getting out of massive relationship make the UK able to enter into such new agreements? Moderator Fitzgerald noted that European Council President Tusk thought bridging gap between any popular vote and orderly obligations needs to be worked out ahead and we have not seen that here in concrete plans for a new arrangement.

While Sir Michael Wood observed that the EU is not really multilateralism of the usual kind, Jessica Simonoff of US State thought that while bilateralism may simplify a discussion, a treaty negotiation is never really bilateral, as there are other voices in the room. Actions in the UK will always affect the EU. Contracts in many areas will be affected in the realm of private parties (for example, phone roaming fees now in EU after Brexit).

Professor Howse noted that ironically the less-discussed fall-back rules for the UK is a much bigger WTO multilateralism. The EU has now proven that it is a community of choice and right to depart is a real right. Euro-skeptics can now be shown that this is not like the old Soviet Union (to exaggerate) and that the EU made a good faith response. In his role as the EU civil servant on the panel, Mr. Rodrigues agreed that the EU will have to be flexible and negotiate a new trade agreement with the UK itself, so that is certainly bilateral.

  1. Q and A from the attendees consisted of three main questions:
    1. Will there be a way to adjudicate new disputes if there is a hard Brexit?
    2. Will the Good Friday Agreement and human rights in general be respected through some inclusion of the EU treaties’ principles on fundamental freedoms, and equality before the law, as applied in Ireland/N Ireland?
    3. Can the panel address what can be fairly referred to as a dishonest referendum? It was a dishonest vote: had it been between Remain and a version of Brexit, Remain would have won. The referendum was not an exercise in democratic will because no specific version of withdrawal was proposed.

The panelists answered all three questions together. Sir Michael Wood does think that temporary fixes will be used in a hard Brexit regarding air travel etc. He mused that the UK is paying to leave, and what if they say won’t pay if EU does not approve withdrawal agreement? Ms. Simonoff agreed that now that more information available, a second referendum could be good idea and not anti-democratic. Professor Howse thought democracy was manifested in the first vote, but people are also free to change their minds. Joao Rodrigues stated that the EU just sees it as done deal. Some provisional measures were taken by Council and Parliament to address a no-deal Brexit, such as in areas of customs, pharmaceuticals, etc., about 18-20 special measures, in fact. He thinks financial obligations of the agreement will come into the negotiations for a new UK- EU trade agreement, and rights of citizens as between the two jurisdictions will also play a part. He bases this on the UK rebate on fees that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher negotiated in the 1980s as manifestation of UK exceptionalism; they got it in 1984, so perhaps now as well.

As the panel ended and everyone left ready to check phones for news of the impending vote, all panelists- and attendees, no doubt- seemed to agree that whatever else it may be, Brexit has been good for stimulating interest in international law, and very good for lawyers.

 

[1] Update and Brexit timeline summary from a research report posted at the official Parliament website: “In a referendum held on 23 June 2016, the majority of the UK electorate voted to leave the European Union.

On 29 March 2017, in writing to European Council President Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister formally triggered Article 50 and began the two-year countdown to the UK formally leaving the EU (commonly known as ‘Brexit’).

The UK has long been expected to leave the European Union at 11pm on 29 March 2019.  However, following a House of Commons vote on 14 March 2019, the Government sought permission from the EU to extend Article 50 and agree a later Brexit date.

On 20 March 2019 the Prime Minister wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk, asking to extend Article 50 until 30 June 2019.

Following a European Council meeting the next day, EU27 leaders agreed to grant an extension comprising two possible dates: 22 May 2019, should the Withdrawal Agreement gain approval from MPs next week; or 12 April 2019, should the Withdrawal Agreement not be approved by the House of Commons.”

 

GDPR and Data Privacy at the ABA TECHSHOW

GDPRBy Meredith Capps

I recently attended the ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago, IL (along with quite a few other law librarians, an impressive turnout!), primarily to stay current on recent e-discovery practices and platforms as my library’s resident e-discovery expert, per my prior life as a law firm associate.  As an FCIL librarian, however, I was compelled to step out of former-litigator mode and attend what proved to be a fascinating session on the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and data privacy laws.  The speakers, Steven M. Puiszis and Judy Shelby, described the ways in which the practices of U.S. law firms and their clients regarding personal information may run afoul of the law, and how U.S. entities should analyze their risk and approach compliance.

Puiszis and Shelby discussed the GDPR’s expansive reach, noting that even minimal activity in an EU state may render a foreign entity “established” in the EU for purposes of the regulation, and that even data that is not “processed” in the EU is covered by the regulation.  They emphasized that “personal information” is defined in a manner far broader than U.S. lawyers would expect, that there is no small business exception to the regulation, and that this information may reside in many repositories maintained by the typical U.S. firm or business, such as human resource databases, marketing databases, client databases, and, of course, email correspondence.  They discussed lawful bases to process personal information, noting that a law firm conflict check should qualify as information necessary for the defense of legal claims, and discussed anonymizing data as one means of ensuring compliance with GDPR.   Though there is uncertainty as to how GDPR will impact requests for documents in U.S. litigation, Shelby noted that federal courts are generally not receptive to enforcing foreign blocking statutes, and that the typical U.S. approach to discovery runs counter to GDPR’s goals of minimum storage.  Cautious U.S. litigants should nevertheless consider narrowly targeting requests for data that may be subject to GDPR, and consider whether anonymized data would suit their purposes.

Their discussion raised a few issues that brought to mind research questions well suited to a course on FCIL research:

  1. National law: Though as a regulation, rather than a directive, GDPR is directly applicable to member states and does not require domestic implementing measures, Puiszis emphasized that EU states maintain their own privacy laws and policies that U.S. entities must consider in addition to GDPR.  Furthermore, I found that European Commission guidance issued in May 2018 specifically notes that the regulation empowers member states to impose conditions and limitations beyond those imposed by GDPR, and contemplates individual member state determinations as to the applicability of the rules in certain sectors.  The EC also states that interpretation of the regulation will be left to European national courts.  In constructing an EU research question concerning GDPR, instructors could well introduce foreign law questions into their hypothetical research problem–questions for which researchers would not enjoy the benefit of the national transposition measures list provided only for directives in EUR-Lex.
  2. Cyber-insurance: Shelby discussed the possibility of obtaining cyber insurance to cover fines associated with GDPR violations, but noted that these fines may not be insurable under the domestic law of some states, raising another potential foreign law companion question.
  3. Recognition of foreign judgments: Though due to time constraints they could not discuss enforcement issues in depth, the speakers mentioned difficulties surrounding the imposition of fines when an entity lacks assets in the EU, and that international treaties or domestic laws such as the U.S. Uniform Foreign Money Judgements Recognition Act may provide mechanisms for cross-border enforcement.  As enforcement proceedings inevitably proceed, they should raise interesting examples involving a mix of foreign and international law.
  4. Data Protection/Processing Agreements (DPAs): Puiszis discussed the importance of entering into, and modifying per GDPR, agreements with vendors and third parties with whom firms, and their clients, may share personal information.  Asking students to locate sample agreements would be an excellent way to reinforce research instruction from 1L and Advanced Legal Research courses regarding publications containing forms and sample contracts.