Saturday, 24 April 2010

Eyjafjallajökull, Abu Dhabi, Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 and Me

Ten days ago I was supposed to return from Japan but then the Icelandic volcano (whose name no one dares to mention!) made me stay in Abu Dhabi for five days, before I could eventually return to England a few days ago. Overall, it was actually a quite pleasant experience: I had not been in Abu Dhabi before and the Airline (Etihad) put us in a nice hotel close to the sea and the city centre.

So why do I have to blog about it? Well, I just remembered that over breakfast one of the other stranded passengers mentioned that the airline had no choice to put us in a hotel ‘because of European law’. That refers to the ‘Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights’ (available here), in particular its ‘right to care’ (art. 9). But was it really applicable in our case? I haven’t been able to solve this question since it may depend on (a) whether Etihad is registered as a ‘Community carrier’ (art. 2(c); perhaps unlikely but not impossible that airlines are registered in different countries), (b) whether it matters that I bought my ticket from Expedia (which, I guess, is registered in Europe), (c) whether I could argue that my initial flight started from the London (and therefore according to art. 3(1) it would be irrelevant whether an airline is a ‘Community carrier’) and that the return flight was still part of this journey. Anyway, in the end everything worked well and if the next volcano is about to erupt I may try to get stranded with Etihad in a place like Hawaii ….

Saturday, 17 April 2010

US Citation ranking of UK company law professors

Brian Leiter regularly posts citation rankings of law professors, most recently here. This is based on the Westlaw database of US law reviews (JLR), using the search method explained here. I’m not planning to do the same for the UK – and it would also be very difficult since still not all UK law journals are available electronically and the citation style is less uniform than US Bluebook. However, I have done the following: using the “Leiter method” and the JLR database of US law reviews for citations to UK-based company law professors (widely understood) between 1 January 2000 and 15 April 2010. Here is the result:
  1. Paul Davies: 328 cites
  2. Simon Deakin: 295 cites
  3. Brian Cheffins: 283 cites
  4. John Armour 202 cites
  5. Mathias Siems 70 cites
  6. Eilis Ferran 63 cites
  7. Janet Dine 53 cites
  8. Roman Tomasic 44 cites
  9. Sarah Worthington 42 cites
  10. (etc.) Brenda Hannigan, Dan Prentice, John Birds, Iain MacNeil, Alistair Alcock, Len Sealy, John Lowry, Alan Dignam, Charlotte Villiers, Niamh Moloney, Sally Wheeler: less than 30 cites
It may be surprising that some of the main UK company law scholars have less than 30 cites. Two explanations can be suggested: on the one hand, the “problem” could be with US law review articles since they frequently cite only/mainly other US articles. This can be seen in the ranking of journals available here. On the other hand, the “problem” could be with UK-based academics since they may mainly publish in journals addressed to a British audience only: see the statistics of the most popular journals in the RAE 2001, available here (unfortunately, not yet available for the RAE 2008).

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

“We are using the law to keep justice away!”

That’s a quote from a recent Dilbert cartoon, available here. The joke is about an absurd provision in the product’s warranty (“say the user needs to lube the product ten times a day with the wax from a bear’s ear”), with the result that “the warranty is voided if the device isn’t properly maintained”.
But would it really work? Let’s assume the user is a consumer. Then, in the EU the Consumer Law Acquis is applicable. The Consumer Sales Directive (99/44) gives certain mandatory rights to the consumer. However, if we assume that Dilbert’s firm is just the producer (not the seller) of the product, this only leads us to article 6: it says that guarantees are binding, that they have to be clearly drafted etc, but it does not impose any restrictions to its substance. Then, could the Unfair Contract Term Directive (93/13) help? I’m not sure about it: article 3(1) talks about a “significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations”, which does not really apply here since I assumed that the producer is not the seller of the product. So, the only chance may be to use general principles, such as “good faith” in civil-law countries, to challenge the voidness of the warranty.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

New articles on comparative law (and related topics)

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Is he travelling again?

Yes, I am. This time Tokyo, where I am visiting at Waseda University (plus sightseeing and catching up with old friends). Waseda has an interesting combination of an (undergraduate) School of Law, a Graduate School of Law, and a (professional) Law School, as well as centres for corporate law and society and comparative law.