Principles for a Data Economy (6 September)

In its new role as an asset that can be sold and exchanged, data has become a key element of transactions all over the world. The new reality creates uncertainty about what rights parties ‘own’ and can trade in. The discussions about ‘data ownership’ and its meaning in economic and legal terms are still ongoing with legislators seeking to provide solutions that would reduce insecurities of the parties concerned. In order to do that, the existing and potential legal rules applicable to transactions in data as an asset and as a tradeable item need to be analysed and the ‘fit’ of those rules must be assessed taking into account new types of transactions. To fulfil this goal, the ALI (American Law Institute) and ELI conducted a Feasibility Study to analyse how law in the US and EU applies to the new data economy. Preliminary results of this Feasibility Study revealed that it is possible to set basic principles and identify the main challenges that both lawmakers in the US and in Europe face. The ALI and ELI further decided to continue their work within a joint project aiming to produce a set of transnational principles that can facilitate the drafting of model agreements or provisions to be used on a voluntary basis and serve as a source for inspiration and guidance for courts and legislators worldwide. The panel at the ELI Annual Conference will explore relevant issues pertaining to the ongoing ALI-ELI work in the field and will discuss the draft results of the Feasibility Study with the audience. 

Protection of Adults in International Situations (6 September)

The increasing mobility of adults who are unable to protect their personal affairs or their property because of an impairment or insufficiency of their personal faculties has become an international concern. The difficulties arising out of the diversity of legal systems and the low number of accessions to the Hague Convention of 13 January 2000 on the International Protection of Adults are among the reasons why the ELI embarked on the project dealing with the Protection of Adults in International Situtations in September 2017. The project takes into account the Resolution of the European Parliament of 1 June 2017 with recommendations to the Commission on the protection of vulnerable adults (2015/2085(INL)). The panel will consider the added value of future EU legislation which aims at enhancing the cross-border protection of vulnerable adults and the legal significance of the Hague Convention in this context.

Draft Model Rules on Online Intermediary Platforms (I) (6 September)

Following the successful presentation of the project at the ELI Annual Conference in Vienna in 2017 as well as further project team meetings in 2018, the project on Draft Model Rules on Online Intermediary Platforms is entering its final stage. This project aims at ensuring better protection of consumers and other platform users by providing clear solutions with regard to online intermediary platforms. The latter increasingly shape our economy as the number of platforms as well as their users is rapidly rising. Since the existing EU regulatory framework mainly deals with bilateral supplier-customer relations, the platforms-based economy, characterised by trilateral relations, urgently needs new rules. The two panels on the project have a slightly different format. This panel will present the draft rules elaborated by the team and discuss them with stakeholders.

Common Constitutional Traditions in Europe (6 September)

Article 6(3) of the Treaty of the European Union refers to ‘common constitutional traditions’. The question of what traditions are common engages both the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The Council of Europe’s Venice Commission also seeks to establish common standards around the rule of law, democracy and human rights.  The issue is of increasing importance as European legal integration develops, while at the same time liberal values are challenging. This ELI project aims at identifying these traditions and, most importantly, developing a methodology that would allow for their further identification in court practice and elsewhere. Following fruitful discussions on the topic at the ELI Annual Conference in Vienna in 2017 and the approval of the proposed project by the ELI Council in February 2018, the project team has begun elaborating on its work and will present its progress to date at the panel.

Draft Model Rules on Online Intermediary Platforms (II) (6 September)

This second panel on Draft Model Rules on Online Intermediary Platforms will provide ELI members and participants of this year’s Annual Conference with an opportunity to discuss the draft rules with a view to giving feedback to the team. Such input is indispensable for the furtherance of the team’s work. The final Model Rules will be presented at the ELI Annual Conference in 2019.

Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets (6 September)

Since the digital world is cross-border, consideration of European and even global harmonisation is vital, particularly with regard to tracing and gaining access to digital assets which could be stored on servers anywhere. An approach that overarches legal traditions is needed and also consensus with and within the IT industry ought to be reached. This ELI project aims to elaborate on a draft European legislative instrument, enabling the tracing and gaining of access to digital assets within the European Union in the interests of European private citizens (not only in cases of digital inheritance, but also when digital matrimonial or registered partnership property must be separated in divorce cases) and European businesses (in cases of defaulting debtors, who possess digital assets, such as digital currencies) and the panel will allow for further discussions on issues pertaining to the above topic.

From Transnational Principles to European Rules of Civil Procedure (6 September)

The divergences between national rules on civil procedure developed over a long period of time and the question of which rules are applicable in a situation when parties enter into a transaction involving more than one State, led to the conclusion that a certain degree of unification of the rules governing private international law would unequivocally contribute to the simplification of the resolution of civil disputes across Europe. Therefore, the ELI and the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) undertook a joint venture aimed at analysing the different civil procedure regimes and at drafting a set of unified regional principles of civil procedure. Greater harmony and homogeneity of such important legislation within Europe would facilitate the free movement of citizens and businesses across borders. Numerous organisations in their capacity as observers, inter alia, the European Parliament and the Commission have shown interest in the project, which has been referred to in several working documents at EU level. As the project is soon drawing to an end, this panel will discuss its current state and the work produced by two of the final working groups, on parties and costs.

Principles of Liability in Digitalised Environments (6 September)

The location of data is no longer in a physical jurisdiction but in clouds which may change rapidly. In addition, damage may be caused by autonomous agents acting according to patterns derived from deep learning, or by centralised autonomous organisations. As a prospective ELI project, the panel devoted to the Principles of Liability in Digitalised Environments will explore the feasibility of embarking on work to improve exististing legal regimes and developing transnational model rules to be used as sources of inspiration by legislators.

Empowering European Families (Presentation of Results) (7 September)

After more than ten years of working group meetings, and following numerous presentations of the interim output of the project at several public workshops and conferences, including the 2016 and 2017 ELI Annual Conferences, the team is now ready to present the final results and findings of the Empowering European Families: Towards More Party Autonomy in Family and Succession Law project, embarked on by experts from the Universities of Vienna and Utrecht with the help of an EU action grant and conducted as an ELI project. The aims of this project were to reduce obstacles faced by international families and to facilitate the free movement of citizens by providing better certainty and predictability of results and reducing the costs of litigation in matters of family and succession laws. Moreover, it also aimed at promoting the use of family mediation in the EU. The panellists will have the opportunity to discuss the resulting ELI Instrument with those interested in the panel.

Research and Development Tax Incentives (7 September)

Research and Development (R&D) is one of the areas of particular interest for the European Union. There are various methods of incentivising enterprises active in the field of R&D, for example through tax incentives. The R&D tax incentives that are currently in place, are not harmonised within Europe. However, the European Commission recently proposed a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), including a super deduction for qualifying tax expenses, with the aim of providing a common corporate tax base for EU Member States. This should improve the situation by reducing administrative burdens, compliance costs and tax obstacles for companies operating in several EU Member States. There is much ongoing debate about the EU super deduction and its possible relation with national tax incentives. In particular, the definition of qualifying R&D expenses eligible for super deduction has to be refined. Following the approval by the ELI Council of this ELI project in November 2017, the team is now ready to present their Statement. It focuses on providing a general framework detailing what would be eligible for R&D tax incentives. The participants of the panel will discuss the output of the project.

Business and Human Rights (7 September)

As some multinational corporations gain economic and social influence, which rivals that of nation states, it is necessary to also review their impact on human rights. Where this impact amounts to violations of human rights, effective remedies should be made available to victims. At present, access to justice in ensuring the maintenance of such standards is often hindered by a number of factors, partly inherent in the imbalance of power between victims of human rights abuses and international businesses. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the ELI have recently embarked on a joint project to tackle the issue of access to remedies for human rights abuses and encourage deterrence of corporate practices and activities harmful to stakeholders and the wider community. The Business and Human Rights panel will explore and identify a range of relevant issues pertaining to the ongoing ELI-FRA work in this area, discuss measures intended to increase access to remedies and ensure greater corporate responsibility. A discussion on the horizontal effect of human rights on businesses will also be had.

Blockchain Technology and Smart Contracts (7 September)

Blockchain Technology and Smart Contracts is one of three upcoming ELI projects. Blockchains are technologies that have a huge potential to fundamentally change many areas of private law transactions. Blockchain technology is already used to produce digital currency and to replace some back-office functions of banks and insurance providers. Its application in land registration and numerous other fields is constantly being considered. Within a few years, blockchain technology, and its distributed ledger system, could be the basis of the registration of vast values in real property and currency. It would be irresponsible not to scrutinise the legal basis for these applications and consider how the law can enshrine sufficient operational security and whether minimum standards should be regulated, either at national or European level. At the same time, blockchain technology is starting to offer interesting opportunities for private transactions in the form of smart contracts. Such contracts eliminate the need for trust and good faith, but can easily be frustrated at the slightest change of contractual circumstances. Whether the current system of private law can readily cope with these novel forms of ‘self-executing’ agreements, or whether new solutions are required, are fundamental questions and this panel will aim at finding the answers.

e-CODEX and its Impact on Execution of European Legal Procedures (7 September)

e-CODEX is the digital infrastructure to exchange case related data between legal authorities in the European Union. e-CODEX also improves cross-border access of citizens and business to legal services in other Member States. At the moment the main effort of the e-CODEX community is extending e-CODEX support in more Member States and implementing better legal procedures. In addition to extensive coverage,  procedural expertise with e-CODEX is on the rise. The ELI is keen to assess e-CODEX experiences  with a  view to addressing the challenges that the use of technology brings to justice.  What is the impact of IT processes on the law? What about IT governance and the independence of the judiciary? What do we know about the impact of procedural law on digitalisation? How to create trust in digital solutions? What can be improved at EU level and what should remain the responsibility of Member States? How can the use of clear and coherent legal terminology facilitate the building of digital tools for legal practice? This panel will seek to address these questions and will briefly explain the role of e-CODEX, report on a legislative proposal on the subject and describe the e-CODEX domain, including the impact of e-CODEX in the preparation and execution of legal procedures.