#IALL2016 Recap: Diversities Among Common Law Countries

By: Julienne Grant

On the morning of August 1, Professor Francis Reynolds Q.C., Emeritus Professor of Law at Worcester College (University of Oxford), began the 2016 IALL Course with a talk on “Diversities Among Common Law Nations.” As indicated by the speaker, the purpose of the presentation was to provide only general observations of differences between selected countries following the common law tradition.

Before proceeding into the main content of his lecture, Professor Reynolds made a brief detour to define common law. According to him, the common law is a legal system wherein the application of law does not begin with a code, but rather a corpus of prior court decisions that judges utilize to reason by analogy.  In defining common law, the speaker also contrasted it with the civil law tradition, suggesting that the methodology is the same, but the technique is different; that is, the two systems differ in their treatment of precedent.

Professor Reynolds next segued into a general examination of the development and use of common law in various jurisdictions.  The speaker posited that the common law itself is largely an English invention that is now utilized in numerous countries across the globe, although its functionality varies.  The speaker emphasized that there is really no such thing as British law, as Scotland has its own legal system. He said that the term “U.K. courts,” however, can be accurate in the right context and noted that there is now a U.K. Supreme Court that has been operational since 2009.  The professor contended that the use of common law in the U.S. departs from that utilized in the U.K., partly because of the U.S.’ sheer size and geography.

Turning to Australia, the speaker specified that there is also no general Australian law and that emphasis there is on court opinions emanating from the states of Victoria and New South Wales, with the latter decisions being “more adventurous.” Professor Reynolds observed that the High Court of Australia, the country’s final court of appeal, has been reducing the number of categories of law as of late.  The professor also mentioned the 1974 Trade Practices Act, specifically §52, which created a new form of liability for deceptive conduct in the consumer protection context, along with a new remedy.  Focusing next on New Zealand, the speaker asserted that legal reform began there in earnest in the 1970s, specifically referencing the 1970 Illegal Contracts Act and the Contracts (Privity) Act of 1982.  Professor Reynolds noted that not all of the attempted legal reforms have been successful in that country, although these types of changes are generally easier to implement in smaller jurisdictions.

Moving to Hong Kong, the speaker indicated that the Court of Final Appeal there is a bastion of the retention of common law values. The Court, which is Hong Kong’s highest appellate court, has a high standing in the common law world.  He noted that there is increasing use of Chinese in the lower courts, which begs the question, can the common law be applied successfully in a language other than English. Turning to Singapore, the professor explained that there has been an increasing amount of commercial law litigation there in the past ten to fifteen years.  In Singapore, there is no third tier appellate court of review, and the country is currently experimenting with a new International Commercial Court.

Professor Reynolds conceded that he did not have a clear view of the common law in Canada, a statement that prompted laughter from many audience members.  He suggested that Canada is another example of where common law is utilized in a jurisdiction where its linguistic tradition is not exclusively linked to the English language.  He also briefly touched upon India, where he maintained there are serious delays in the judicial system and outdated codes. The speaker also mentioned the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC), which he contended does not have enough vision, although there are still some important cases emerging from the JCPC.

The speaker closed his talk with a brief look at the current status and future of the common law. Overall, Professor Reynolds views it as a satisfactory method for private law cases and stipulated that the common law would be difficult to change, as its legal methodology is essentially a cultural matter. In addition, he pointed out the increasing popularity of international commercial arbitration, concurrently noting that the common law is often applied in that context.  Regarding the latter, he referenced recent developments in Singapore, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi.  Professor Reynolds concluded that the common law is indeed still vigorous and internationally viable.

Several attendees subsequently added to the discussion with information, questions, and comments. Professor Reynolds’ paper on his presentation topic will be published in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Legal Information (possibly in January 2017).

#IALL2016 Recap: The Role of Human Rights in Re-Shaping Investor-State Arbitration

IALL Oxford KebleBy: Herb Somers

On Wednesday afternoon, August 3 at 14.00, Susan Karamanian, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies at the George Washington University Law School, began her lecture by describing the process of investor-state arbitration, which is a system under international law that provides an investor an avenue to adjudicate disputes (through international arbitration) against a foreign government. This alternate dispute resolution system exists outside the court systems of the home or host state. The adjudicating body is a panel of three arbitrators chosen by the parties according to the provisions of the investment agreement. Typically, one arbitrator is chosen by the investor, one by the host state, and a third by agreement of the parties.

Such dispute resolution procedures can be found in a multitude of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) between individual countries, as well as in some international trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These agreements typically authorize the investor  (the home state party) to request an arbitration  when there is a violation of the BIT by the nation in which the investment is located (the host state). A typical BIT will provide the investor protection against expropriation without due process, most favored nation status as well as other equal protection provisions and general guarantees of fair and equitable treatment. The investment treaty also allows the investor to choose from an array of arbitration rules such as those used by the International Centre for Settlement Dispute (ICSID), or the UN  Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD).

The selected arbitrators in a specific case must decide all issues in accordance with the chosen arbitration rules and they must also adjudicate the dispute consistent with the treaty provisions at hand and  all applicable rules of international law. There are no explicit rules of precedent that are used by the panel, but a de facto system of precedent has emerged where arbitrators look to the decisions of previous bodies deciding on similar factual and legal issues. A common criticism of such arbitrations is that they are cloaked in secrecy due to the confidential nature of arbitration as a dispute mechanism.  Until recently, it was difficult, if not impossible, to obtain the award of an arbitral panel in a given case. However, later agreements have provided more transparency in the process of investor-state dispute resolution.  Critics have also argued that such arbitrations are not bound by rules of judicial fairness and have no mandate to follow prevailing international human rights and environmental norms. Critics of investor-state arbitration have also decried the decisions of panels that have allowed states to face liability when investors have attacked environmental and health laws of the host state.

Karamanian believes that international human rights law can re-shape the process and address many of the concerns about investor state arbitration voiced by critics.  She enumerated several reasons why this is true.

First, transparency issues have begun to be addressed. The secrecy surrounding earlier investor-state arbitration have given way to more open procedures. For example, the 2004 U.S. Model BIT allows for amicus curiae briefs and all documents relating to a particular investor-state dispute must be publicly available. Similarly, ICSID requires that all requests for arbitration must be made public. A majority of ICSID awards are disseminated publicly, and for those that are not, excerpts are provided.

Human rights principles may also be applicable to the dispute and can be raised by the parties in several ways. Based on the law and the arbitration rules in a particular dispute, international law may be controlling. In NAFTA Chapter 11 arbitration, the principles of the NAFTA agreement and international law explicitly apply to a particular dispute in that venue. Similarly, in ICSID arbitration, absent governing laws, international law applies as well, thus providing avenues for raising international human rights issues. Also, when national law applies, a monist state may raise international law as integral part of its domestic law.

Other international law principles also direct arbitrators to recognize human rights protections. For example jus cogens  (non-derogable norms of international law) are given precedence over the obligations present in an international investment agreement. This rule is derived from article 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Provisions of the United Nations Charter may also apply such as Article 103, which provides that in the event of a conflict between a state’s obligation under the Charter and that of a treaty, the conflict should be resolved in the favor of Charter obligations, which include the advancement of human rights principles by member states.

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties can also be applied as an interpretative tool by arbitrators to divine the meaning of provisions in a given investment agreement. Article 31(1) of the Convention requires an arbitral body to interpret “in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in light of its object and purpose.”  It is from this interpretive provision that the text of a given investment treaty can be read to infer international human rights protections despite not being explicitly mentioned within the document.

Finally, the investment treaties themselves have also begun to protect the prerogatives of states to regulate health, safety, and environmental concerns and limit their liability under a investment agreement. The 2012 U.S. Model BIT, for example, excludes “ non-discriminatory regulations that are tailored to protect public health, safety, and the environment.” Other provisions in concluded BITs also protect a state so that it may fulfill its duties to maintain or restore international peace and security.

While recent decisions of investor-state arbitral tribunals  have recognized a state’s legitimate right to protect the health and welfare of its citizens without liability to a foreign investor, much work needs to be done. Ultimately, this process of integrating human rights norms into investor-state arbitration will require arbitrators who are knowledgeable of the relevant law and willing to apply the norms of  international human rights and other international standards to the disputes before them. Law librarians will play a vital role in this process by making these materials readily accessible and by sharing their reference expertise with lawyers in the field.

 

#AALL2016 Recap: Roman Law, Roman Order, and Restatements

By: Jennifer Allison

Although the title of this program promised content about Roman Law, this program actually was a bit more focused on digitization of library materials, especially materials and collections that are unique and important to researchers.  For both presenters, preserving materials is only one of several goals of library digitization projects.  Both had found that, perhaps, a more important goal is fostering and optimizing the connection between people and materials.

justinian

 

Marylin Raisch, a long-time member of the FCIL-SIS, served as moderator and employed a question-and-answer format for Professor Kearley’s discussion, which was both highly effective and quite enjoyable.

Marylin’s knowledge of many topics, including Roman law and U.S. legal history, is quite extensive, and she probably could have offered an informative and interesting program on this topic all on her own.  However, she really allowed Professor Kearley’s knowledge, expertise, and passion for the subject to shine through.

Beginning around 1920, Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Fred Blume, an expert in Roman Law, began work on his English-language annotated translation of the Codex of Justinian.  Transcripts representing various stages and versions of this translation are in Justice Blume’s papers, which are held by the University of Wyoming Law Library. Professor Kearney oversaw and edited the digitization and publication of this manuscript collection, both editions of which are hosted on the University of Wyoming Law Library’s website.

Justice Blume’s personal history, as described by Professor Kearley, provided some fascinating background on his translation projects.  Justice Blume, who immigrated to the United States at age 12, learned Latin in high school and ended up graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a BS in philosophy.  While he did not have formal legal training, he read law in a law office, eventually becoming a lawyer, judge, and politician in Wyoming.

Throughout his life he had a deep interest in Roman legal materials, and decided to translate ancient Roman legal codes after he tried to order English translations of them from book publishers and was told there were none available.

Justice Blume was, as Professor Kearney explained, not alone in the American legal community when it came to his interest in Roman law.  During the early 19th century, many U.S. legal scholars studied Roman legal materials as a part of a larger movement toward exploring the codification of U.S. law.  Although that movement had receded by the end of the civil war, there was a renewed interest in using a Roman or civil law taxonomy as a means of classifying the law in the early 20th century, especially as it related to the American Law Institute’s project on legal restatements.

andrew jackson

As Professor Kearney pointed out, the early 20th century saw a “Jacksonian” anti-elitist movement similar to that which is taking place today.  To that end, Justice Blume took care to not discuss Roman law on the bench when he served as a justice on the Wyoming Supreme Court.  However, as Professor Kearney mentioned, among lawyers of a certain sensibility during that time, the language of Latin and Roman law served as an “old-school tie they waved at each other.”

Professor Kearney concluded by discussing the decision he made to include versions of Justice Blume’s work in manuscript form, which includes marginalia and other notes that make it hard to read, in the digital archive.  The advantage of including this as well is to create a real connection between the work and the researcher.

This conclusion created a nice tie-in to Angela T. Spinazzè’s presentation, in which she provided a more general discussion of establishing and managing digitization and digital archives projects.    Ms. Spinazzè focuses on three categories of questions: who, what, and how.

who.png

  • First, in response to “who,” she considers who the intended audience is, which focuses the work and allows for coalescing around a shared conclusion. This also helps illuminate biases and assumptions.
  • Next, she thinks about the question of “what.” This means considering what the digitization project is intended to accomplish, and what the consequences would be of not digitizing the materials.
  • Finally, the “how” question focuses really on the materials themselves: how should what you are digitizing be presented to target audiences, and, perhaps unexpectedly, how will the digitization project advance the purpose of the organization? Can it, for example, foster greater collaboration across more institutional departments?  Is a natural outcome of the work the identification of more shared activities across the organization?

Ms. Spinazzè then provided two examples of digitization projects, the Oriental Institute  at the University of Chicago, and the HEIR (Historic Environment Image Resource) at the University of Oxford.  Both of these projects provided unique and illuminating answers to the questions of who, what, and how that really illustrated the effectiveness of the methodology.

The Oxford project sounded particularly interesting.  It saved from destruction a collection of lantern slides and glass plate negatives that had been abandoned in an archive. As it turned out, in addition to saving the original materials, the digital library also provided a wiki-like forum in which researchers and scholars could tag the images (using a controlled vocabulary) and provide new content of the scenes as they had been re-photographed over time.

Overall, although the program was not exclusively about Roman law, it provided a thoughtful forum for contemplating the values of digital collections, and provided insight into how the audience could consider undertaking similar projects at their home libraries.

A Snapshot of Indonesian Law (and Indonesia) & the FCIL-SIS Throws a Party

By Julienne Grant

Rheny3Dr. Rheny Pulungan, recipient of the 2016 FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant, gave a fascinating presentation on July 18 entitled “The Legal Landscape in Indonesia:  Limitations and Possibilities.”  This was actually Dr. Pulungan’s first time in the United States, and she admitted to being a little overwhelmed.  She was headed to NYC after her Chicago visit.

Dr Pulungan began her presentation with a quiz for audience members, “Fun Facts About Indonesia,” which tested us on our basic knowledge of the country, such as the number of islands (around 18,000);  population (about 250 million); and official religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, and Confucianism). Needless to say, the attendees were a bit stumped and surprised at the answers. The speaker also showed a slide of Indonesia embedded on a map of the United States, and many of us were astonished to see what a large geographic area the country spans.

Indonesia’s legal system is complex, with civil law attributes resulting from the archipelago’s time under Dutch rule.  One region, Aceh, applies Shariah law. Since 1945, Dr. Pulungan explained, Indonesia has been creating its own laws. Starting in the 1970s, efforts began to create a national legal information center that would make Indonesian laws more accessible, and beginning in 2004, laws and court opinions have been regularly posted on Indonesian government websites.

The speaker next turned to Indonesia’s judicial system. At the trial level are 250 district courts, appellate level high courts number 30, and the Indonesian Supreme Court is a court of cassation. There are also specialized courts, including religious courts and military courts, as well as a constitutional court.  The Supreme Court has a website where its decisions are posted, although none are translated into English. Dr. Pulungan described the search functionality of the site as being mediocre and indicated that the Supreme Court does publish a small number of its decisions in print.  In 2012, as part of USAID’s Changes for Justice Project, an electronic case tracking system (SIPP) was established that was designed to promote judicial transparency.  According to the speaker, it is possible to search by case number or party name to locate information.  Dr. Pulungan also noted that court decisions at all levels must be uploaded within three days of rendering.

Decisions of the Constitutional Court (established in 2001) are translated into English and available on the Court’s website.  The Constitutional Court is not an appellate court and its authority is vested in the third amendment to Indonesia’s Constitution.  The Court’s database can be searched by multiple variables, including case number, case name, applicant names, and keywords.  The Constitutional Court’s role is “The Guardian of the Constitution.”

According to Dr. Pulungan, Indonesian legislation is relatively easy to find online, but locating official English translations can be difficult. There are several databases of note that contain Indonesian legislation: the State Secretariat Database (updated daily); Lexadin; some UN agency websites (such as UNODC); and Hukum.  Hukum is the only commercial database available for Indonesian law in both English and Indonesian.

The speaker next turned to secondary sources.  She recommended Cornell University’s “Southeast Asia Program” website and a quarterly publication called Inside Indonesia. She also mentioned the English-language law journal, Indonesia Law Review , which is open access, and the Australian Journal of Asian Law that is hosted on SSRN. The Jakarta Post covers legal news and developments, and Dr. Pulungan also noted the “Indonesia at Melbourne” blog and the website of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society.

The speaker closed her talk by emphasizing that translating Indonesian legal materials into English is inherently difficult.  She provided an example of a phrase in Indonesian translated into English by Google Translate as “hiking education,” while a UNESCO document translated it as “educational streaming.” She advised attendees to search for more than one English translation. Dr. Pulungan has created a LibGuide on Indonesian law and told audience members that she was available via email for assistance.

A question from the audience was raised about religious courts, which she explained are unique and preside over family law matters. As an aside, the speaker mentioned that Indonesian couples who marry must be of the same faith; Dr. Pulungan’s husband is Australian, and he had to convert to Islam for a day in order for the marriage to be legal in Indonesia.  Another attendee asked whether any Indonesian court decisions are precedential. There is no precedent, she said, but Supreme Court decisions include practice notes that can influence lower courts.

ReceptionAfter Dr. Pulungan’s excellent talk,[1] audience members headed to the FCIL-SIS reception for foreign visitors.  The reception was well attended, and I enjoyed chatting with FCIL colleagues there. Keith Ann Stiverson, 2015-2016 AALL President, welcomed the guests and announced the numbers of foreign attendees:  27 from Canada, 17 from the UK, 2 from Australia, 1 from Hong Kong, 1 from Ireland, 2 from South Korea, and 1 from Switzerland.  Ms. Stiverson’s remarks were followed by a few words from IALL President Jeroen Vervliet (Peace Palace Library). Mr. Vervliet related his adventures in Hyde Park at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House. He also announced that the International Journal of Legal Information has a new publisher (Cambridge) and a new look. Mr. Vervliet presented a copy of the new issue to editor Mark Engsberg (Emory U) who had not yet seen it. Overall, it was a great party, although I admit I could have used a few more coconut shrimp.

 

[1] I will also add that Dr. Pulungan made a fashion statement with her dress constructed with fabric covered with images of books. Loved it.

 

Recap: FCIL-SIS Book Group

By Jennifer Allison

ewstSpearheaded by Dan Wade of the Yale Law School Library, the FCIL-SIS Book Group met again this year at the AALL annual meeting. Of the two finalists, the book chosen by the participants was East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity”, by Philippe Sands (published in 2016 by Knopf, ISBN 978-0385350716).

The participants in the book group included:

  • Dan Wade, Yale
  • John Wilson, UCLA
  • Lyonette Louis-Jacques, University of Chicago
  • Loren Turner, University of Minnesota
  • Jennifer Allison, Harvard
  • Daniel Donahue, University of Houston
  • Marilyn Raisch, Georgetown
  • Evelyn Ma, Yale

After a bit of a location mix-up, the group settled on meeting at the conference hotel’s American Craft  Kitchen & Bar.  Over delicious food and drinks, the conversation about this interesting and unexpected book flowed.

Most of the group’s participants gave the book a thumbs-up, although there were definitely mixed reviews regarding the book’s somewhat unusual format.  Although it was a non-fiction account of the development of the crime of genocide, Sands wove this information into the stories of four people from an Eastern European city, that, throughout its history, has had a number of names, including Lemberg, Lwów, Lvov, and as it is known today, Lviv.

One of the four people whose story was told was Sands’ maternal grandfather, a Jew who left his hometown for Vienna in the early 20th century, and then fled Vienna for Paris in the late 1930s.  The book featured extensive descriptions of the grandfather’s early life, the fate of his family in what was, during the war, the Polish city of Lwów, and his later years in Paris, where the author spent time with him.

Sands also told the stories of two men who had studied at the law faculty of the University of Lwów:

  • Raphael Lemkin taught at Duke Law School and worked with the American lawyers who were involved in the Nuremberg trials. In his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, he offered the first definition of the word “genocide.”
  • Hersch Lauterpacht was an international lawyer who taught at the London School of Economics and Cambridge University. He worked with the Nuremberg Trials’ team of British lawyers.

The book’s fourth biographical figure was the German lawyer Hans Frank, who served the Nazi regime as both a lawyer and the Governor General of occupied Poland.  He was a defendant in the Nuremberg Trials, where he was convicted of the murder of Polish Jews.  He was sentenced to death and executed.

Although biographical information of these four figures was woven throughout the book, the main focus of its second half was the Nuremberg Trials, from the preparation (in which the allies’ legal teams debated whether to use the newly-introduced crime of “genocide” in their prosecution of the Nazi defendants), through the trial proceedings and the outcome.

Some of the members of the book group were not enamored of the book’s extensive use of biographical narrative, and would have preferred that the book focus merely on the earliest development of genocide of a legal norm that could be used by lawyers to prosecute war criminals.  In fact, a few people said that, if they were to read the book again, they would skip its first half entirely.  However, other members of the group felt that the inclusion of the biographical stories made the work more accessible to non-scholars; specifically, “it made it a serious book about genocide that I could recommend to my mom, or sister, one that they would actually read.”

There were other concerns about the book among the group.  As Dan Wade pointed out, “This book likely would not have passed a law school preemption check.”  Perhaps he is correct.  Ana Filipa Vrdoljak, a law professor at the University of Western Australia Faculty of Law, published an article that covered a remarkably similar topic in 2009: Human Rights and Genocide: The Word of Lauterpacht and Lemkin in Modern International Law (20 Eur. J. Int’l L. 1163 (2009)). The article tracked the life paths of these two figures, from their education at the University of Lwów Faculty of Law, through their lives and careers in the United States and England, to their participation in the Nuremberg Trials, in similar detail to Sands’ book.  Of course, Vrdoljak’s article discussed neither Sands’ grandfather nor Hans Frank in any detail, and the presence of the content of those two individuals added a level of narrative complexity and interest to the book that is not present in the article.  Still, Dan’s was a valid point.

Overall, it was a very successful and enjoyable book group meeting.  Hopefully this is a tradition that has been firmly established and will continue at AALL meetings into the future.

07/17/2016 Summary and a Word about DuSable

By Julienne Grant

I was walking home from the Hyatt after the conference ended and an AALL member stopped me on Michigan Ave. to tell me how much she loved Chicago. That made my day.  I sent colleagues all over the city during the conference—to the Chicago History Museum, Wicker Park, Old Town, the CAF boat tour dock, the West Loop, and to Eataly (they owe me a huge cut). Throughout all of this, I was supposed to be writing up reports of various programs/meetings, and I got a little behind.  The following are short summaries of several events from Sunday, July 17:

Latino Caucus:  My DePaul law school classmate, Matt Katz, gave a compelling and provocative presentation that focused on the precarious and truly abominable state of immigration law in this country, providing specific case examples from his firm (Katz Law).  Mateo also berated the increasing trend of prison privatization in the U.S., mentioning a 2013 article in The Guardian, “America’s Private Prison System is a National Disgrace.” To drive his points home, Matt drew upon a wide range of authors, including French philosopher Michel Foucault.  Matt distributed copies of a piece he recently penned, “Como Indocumentado, Que Debo Saber y Hacer en la Era del Trump y la Negación de DAPA por La Corte Suprema?” (As an undocumented immigrant, what should I know and do in the era of Trump and the Supreme Court’s rejection of DAPA?).

After Mateo’s talk, the Latino Caucus began its business meeting, led by Chair Marisol Florén-Romero (Florida International U). The Caucus discussed a number of proposed projects, including one called “Latino Voices.” The goal of this initiative would be to compile information on selected members of the Hispanic legal community, including law librarians.  These personal profiles would be featured on the Caucus’ web page.

MattKatz3

Matt Katz

Asian Legal Information in English: Availability, Accessibility, and Quality Control:   This was a very interesting and useful program; kudos to all the presenters who covered China (Alex Zhang, U of Michigan), Hong Kong/Macao (Anne Mostad-Jensen, U of North Dakota), South Korea (Juice Lee, Northeastern), and Japan (Mike McArthur, U of Michigan). The presenters did an excellent job of explaining the complexities involved in translating the law from these jurisdictions and the inherent pitfalls of English-language translations. Free websites and commercial databases were presented, and in some instances demoed live.  Juice Lee’s PowerPoint slides are posted on AALL’s website.

Foreign Law Selectors Interest Group:  The meeting drew about 30 attendees, and was led by Marci Hoffman (UC Berkeley).  Schaffer Grant recipient Rheny Pulungan of the University of Melbourne’s Law School Library offered a brief overview of her library’s print and electronic resources, which she described in more detail during her presentation on Monday, July 18 (summary forthcoming). Representatives from the Law Library of Congress, Yale, Harvard, NEFLLCG, and LLMC Digital provided updates. The LA Law Library was not represented, as Neel Agrawal has left his position there. Marci also brought the group up to date on recent developments related to the Foreign Law Guide (FLG) and Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP). Regarding the former, there are newly-updated entries for Azerbaijan, China, France, Japan, and Mexico.  Updates for Germany, South Korea, and Switzerland have been completed and will be loaded soon; revisions for Argentina, Chile, Italy, and Spain are in the works. She also indicated that the IFLP will soon have a multilingual subject thesaurus and that the database will be adding 10 new Japanese journals.  Marci will post the full minutes of the meeting on the Foreign Law Selectors Interest Group web page.

 

Rheny

Rheny Pulangan

 

Before closing, I want to say just a bit about the convention center’s DuSable room, which apparently piqued the interest of a few FCIL-SIS members. I’m quite sure the room is named for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable who is known as the founder of Chicago. DuSable was purportedly a Haitian of African and French descent who established the first permanent settlement here in the 1780s. Next time you’re in town, check out the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.

 

 

 

Recap: Asian Legal Information in English: Availability, Accessibility, and Quality Control

By Amy Flick

Because I frequently need to help students find primary authority of other countries, yet have no hope of finding materials published in Chinese, Korean, or Japanese, I was pleased to see a program on Asian Legal Information in English in the AALL Annual Meeting program. I was even more pleased to find the program interesting, useful, and supplemented with handouts.

Alex ZhangAlex Zhang was the coordinator, moderator, and introductory speaker. She started by stressing the importance of good, reliable translations, but noted that even “official” translations by government entities are still for informational purposes only. In presenting the portion of the program on finding primary law of China, she included:

  • The official site NPC (National People’s Congress) Database of Laws and Regulations. The search box is unreliable, so Alex recommended browsing by category, requiring some knowledge of the structure of Chinese law to find the appropriate category. She cautioned that the laws retrieved may not include the dates of coverage, making it unclear for the user if they have the most current version.
  • State Council Laws & Regulations
  • Commercial sources including Lawinfochina, Westlaw China, and Lexis China, all comparable, and expensive, but Alex is most familiar with Lawinfochina. She recommends it for comprehensive coverage and inclusion of the most recent laws, and for a citator link to amendments to laws.
  • Although case law is not considered primary authority in China, a Stanford Law School project is translating Chinese Guiding Cases.

Alex wrapped up by noting that good translation is hard: “the question in legal translation isn’t which one is right, but which one is less wrong.” She suggests comparing and contrasting multiple translations and asking experts for help.

 

Anne Cathrine Mostad-JensenAnne Mostad-Jensen presented on law of Hong Kong and Macau. For these jurisdictions, she stressed that it is particularly important to understand their histories. Because of Hong Kong’s history as a British colony, it has a hybrid system of common and civil law, and English is one of its official languages for legal publication. Sources for Hong Kong legal information in English include:

Macao as a former Portuguese colony has a civil law system. English translation is available for only select legislation and some indexes, not for caselaw, and the translations are not official. Sources include:

 

Juice LeeJootaek “Juice” Lee demonstrated resources on law of the Republic of Korea in English. Although South Korea has a civil law system, it has been influenced by U.S. common law. English translations are not official, but English is widely used, and there are English language versions of most government websites. However, terminology can be an issue because of differences in civil and common law. Most primary sources are available in English, and government publishers try to provide accurate translations. Juice warned that Korean law changes rapidly, and English translations may not keep up. There are also issues with understanding the differences between public, private, and social law. He recommended sources including:

 

Mike McArthurMike McArthur had the final presentation in the program on finding Japanese law in English. Japanese efforts to be more international led to a 2004 Japanese law requiring translation of Japanese laws. Laws are first made available in tentative translation before an “official” version is available. Of course, translations are still unofficial. Mike warned that the Japanese calendar has a different date system, so he provided a “cheat sheet” for Japanese dates.  Sources for Japanese law in English include:

  • The Ministry of Justice’s Japanese Law Translation The database of laws and regulations is searchable with multiple options (title, number, category), and it has a dictionary for finding Japanese legal terms.
  • The Supreme Court of Japan. Although Japan has a civil law system, Supreme Court decisions are relevant, and some are translated into English.
  • An additional resource for Japanese legal research is ministry reports and white papers, which are translated into English, and which include detailed statistics.

Mike reminded the audience, as did the other speakers, that a legal researcher working with foreign languages and translations can get in over their head quickly, and that they should reach out to a specialist for help.

 

All of the presentations in the program were outstanding, and I appreciate the hard work by the speakers in putting them together!