UFOs, Aliens, Parliament and the Freedom of Information Act

Granted, it is slightly outside my usual scope of work – not many aliens around the office today, and generally speaking, very little interaction with other planets – or scope of interest, as I am not really into administrative law. But a case note on this was hard to resist:

The German parliament (Bundestag) did commission from its scientific advisory staff, a study titled “The search for extraterrestrial life and the implementation of UN Resolution A/33/426 on the observation of unidentified flying objects and extraterrestrial life forms” (Die Suche nach außerirdischem Leben und die Umsetzung der VN-Resolution A/33/426 zur Beobachtung unidentifizierter Flugobjekte und extraterrestrischen Lebensformen). Continue reading

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Speeding Up the Courts

There is quite some legislative activity impacting litigation at the moment: On Friday, December 2, 2011, the Law on Judicial Remedies in Court Proceedings and Criminal Investigations of Excessive Length (Gesetz über den Rechtsschutz bei überlangen Gerichtsverfahren und strafrechtlichen Ermittlungsverfahren) has been published in the Federal Gazette and became effective the day after.

By passing this law, Germanyis reacting to several judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. In 125 matters before the ECHR, Germany paid compensation due to  excessive length of judicial proceedings, and approx. 80% of all judgments delivered against Germany before the ECHR are due to such violations of the reasonable-time requirement of Article 6 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Continue reading

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Schmidt Steps Back

Weekend pursuits: Just bought Schmidt Steps Back, Louis Begley’s new novel, which has just come out in Germany. Interestingly, it has first been published in German, as Schmidts Einsicht in November 2011, by Suhrkamp Verlag. The English original, Schmidt Steps Back, will be published by Alfred A. Knopf in March 2012.

Schmidt Steps Back is continuing the story of Albert Schmidt, known as Schmidtie, the retired New York law firm partner that started with About Schmidt (1996) and Schmidt Delivered (2000). So I have a couple of excuses to post about this book: It is a story about a lawyer by a lawyer. Louis Begley has managed to combine a legal career as a partner in Debevoise with that of an author. And all of his books so far were great.

I look forward to this one. Alfred A. Kopf say “at once darkly funny and deeply poignant, Schmidt Steps Back is the most emotionally nuanced installment of the drama that began with the acclaimed About Schmidt. Here is Louis Begley’s finest novel yet.” Thank god it’s a rainy day, so I can find out for myself.



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Much Ado About Nothing: Draft German Mediation Act to Become Law

On the same day I posted about the delay in the legislative process implementing the EU Directive on Certain Aspects of Mediation in Civil and Commercial Matters, the German parliament (Deutscher Bundestag) issued a press release that an agreement had been reached across all party lines, and that formal requests for amendment had been withdrawn.

At the time of writing, no information over and above the press release appears to have been published. From the press release, it seems that parliament has more or less settled upon passing into law the draft Mediation Act that was proposed by the government in April 2011. The press release still links to the April version of the draft. So at first sight, it appears that the heated debate about court-integrated mediation was much ado about nothing. Neither it, nor the expert hearing in May 2011 appear to have had a significant impact on the legislation as finally implemented.

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