XVIIth World Congress of Comparative Law
Four years ago, at the XVIth World Congress of Comparative Law in Brisbane (Australia), the Paris-based Académie Internationale de Droit Comparé (http://www.iuscomparatum.org) approached my predecessor as president and now honorary member of the Netherlands Comparative Law Association (NCLA), Prof. Ewoud Hondius, and myself as its new president, inquiring whether the NCLA would be willing to organise the XVIIth edition.
We both immediately responded positively and so did the NCLA Board. As it was clear from the beginning that the NCLA would not be able to organise the conference itself—lacking the financial and human resources for such an enterprise—the Board approached all Dutch law faculties to see which of them would be willing to host and organise the conference. Four faculties expressed their interest and in the end the law faculty of Utrecht University was invited to bring off the event. Within the Utrecht law faculty, it was Prof. Katharina Boele-Woelki, my colleague on the boards of both the NCLA and the Electronic Journal of Comparative Law (EJCL), who became the person most involved in the organisation. As President of the NCLA, I also became heavily involved. It took us four years to organise the congress, which ‘only’ lasted a week, from 16-22 July 2006. Our efforts proved to be more than worthwhile. The number of participants was well over 400 (not taking into account the accompanying guests). The participants could take part in nine plenary sessions and 33 specialised sessions, covering a broad spectrum of topics in all areas of law.
One of the interesting new aspects of the congress was the use of electronic media. All the reports, the national as well as the general ones, were published on the congress website. This meant hard work for our webmaster, Dr Ian Curry-Sumner, who set up and maintained the website. He did an excellent job, for which the organising committee is deeply indebted to him. Besides taking care of the congress website, the part containing the national and general reports in particular, Dr Curry-Sumner was also responsible for the Print on Demand service: participants who requested prints of the available reports could order them at a special desk after which the prints would be made available, mostly within 24 hours. Not only the congress organisation used electronic media to disseminate the research results of national and general reporters, national organisations of comparative law too made use of these media. The Italian national reports had been made available on CD-Rom. The national reports of the Netherlands are available in print, and will also be published in the EJCL. The national reports of the United Kingdom will only be available electronically through publication in the EJCL. These reports will be published in one of the very next issues. The EJCL Editorial Board will be happy to publish the reports of other national organisations of comparative law. Please contact our Assistant Editor Dick Broeren (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information.
I am convinced that electronic journals such as the EJCL, edited by and published for academic researchers on the basis of open access (i.e., non-commercial) policies, will prove to be—ever more persistently and convincingly—the new global forums for comparative legal discourse. All it takes to see what is going on in the area of electronic journals is a quick look at the Washington and Lee Law School website, which contains an extensive list of law journals worldwide, with submission policy and ranking (http://lawlib.wlu.edu/LJ/index.aspx).
Of course, the virtual world of electronic media cannot and will not ever completely replace the real world in which people meet face to face. This, of course, also applies to the XVIIth World Congress of Comparative Law. Such an international event is an ideal opportunity to personally meet colleagues working in the same area or who share the same interest. As the congress topics are not limited to one specific legal area, such as private law or public law, the congress provides the perfect setting for learning what is happening in other legal areas. But it is not only this opportunity to develop an interdisciplinary interest in comparative legal studies that makes this event such a valuable experience; as it is a world congress, the event allows researchers to meet colleagues from all parts of the world merely by travelling to one place. As working sessions are combined with social events, the congress creates an informal atmosphere in which comparative jurists can get to know one another also on a more personal level. In my experience, international cooperation between comparative legal scholars is most effective where mutual respect is developed, sometimes leading to friendships.
On behalf of the NCLA Board, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Utrecht University Faculty of Law for its willingness to host and organise this congress, and to my colleague Katharina Boele-Woelki in particular for all the work she did and for the way we worked together in the past four years.
In this issue, you will find three articles. The first is a comparative study of the hearsay rule in Taiwan and the United States by Prof. Ming-woei Chang. In the second article, Matteo Vitali describes and compares the UK and Italian approaches to equity finance with particular reference to these nations’ respective regimes concerning the issue of classes of shares. Finally, the third article is a review by Prof. Gerd Verschelden of Ghent University (Belgium) of Ian Curry-Sumner’s extensive study of non-marital registered relationships in Europe.
Sjef van Erp,