Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Article

Article
Public Interest, Health Research and Data Protection Law: Establishing a Legitimate Trade-Off between Individual Control and Research Access to Health Data
Laws 2020, 9(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws9010006 - 14 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4210
Abstract
The United Kingdom’s Data Protection Act 2018 introduces a new public interest test applicable to the research processing of personal health data. The need for interpretation and application of this new safeguard creates a further opportunity to craft a health data governance landscape [...] Read more.
The United Kingdom’s Data Protection Act 2018 introduces a new public interest test applicable to the research processing of personal health data. The need for interpretation and application of this new safeguard creates a further opportunity to craft a health data governance landscape deserving of public trust and confidence. At the minimum, to constitute a positive contribution, the new test must be capable of distinguishing between instances of health research that are in the public interest, from those that are not, in a meaningful, predictable and reproducible manner. In this article, we derive from the literature on theories of public interest a concept of public interest capable of supporting such a test. Its application can defend the position under data protection law that allows a legal route through to processing personal health data for research purposes that does not require individual consent. However, its adoption would also entail that the public interest test in the 2018 Act could only be met if all practicable steps are taken to maximise preservation of individual control over the use of personal health data for research purposes. This would require that consent is sought where practicable and objection respected in almost all circumstances. Importantly, we suggest that an advantage of relying upon this concept of the public interest, to ground the test introduced by the 2018 Act, is that it may work to promote the social legitimacy of data protection legislation and the research processing that it authorises without individual consent (and occasionally in the face of explicit objection). Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Health Law Issues)
Article
Questioning Segregation of People Living with Dementia in Australia: An International Human Rights Approach to Care Homes
Laws 2019, 8(3), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws8030018 - 15 Aug 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 5903
Abstract
This article explores how care homes—and, specifically, their common features such as dementia care units and locked doors and gates—impact on the human rights of people living with dementia. We suggest that congregation, separation and confinement of people living with dementia by the [...] Read more.
This article explores how care homes—and, specifically, their common features such as dementia care units and locked doors and gates—impact on the human rights of people living with dementia. We suggest that congregation, separation and confinement of people living with dementia by the care home built environment constitute ‘segregation’. In the specific context of residential aged care facilities in Australia, we draw on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (‘CRPD’) to frame this segregation as an injustice. We focus on the rights to non-discrimination (Article 5), liberty and security of the person (Article 14), equality before the law (Article 12), accessibility (Article 9), and independent living and community inclusion (Article 19). Our analysis shows that addressing segregation must involve structural and resource reforms that are transformative in bringing about new ways of living and relating to each other. Such reforms are directed towards providing meaningful alternatives and appropriate supports to make choices from a range of alternative residency and support options, and building communities that are free from ableism, ageism and other systems of oppression that contribute to confinement and segregation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Disability Human Rights Law)
Article
Comparison of Quebec’s Project Delivery Methods: Relational Contract Law and Differences in Contractual Language
Laws 2019, 8(2), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws8020009 - 03 Apr 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2123
Abstract
The province of Quebec, Canada, seeks to implement relational alternate project delivery methods to achieve sustainability and energy efficiency in public construction. However, the relational differences between the formal written parts of different delivery methods have yet to be analyzed and understood, as [...] Read more.
The province of Quebec, Canada, seeks to implement relational alternate project delivery methods to achieve sustainability and energy efficiency in public construction. However, the relational differences between the formal written parts of different delivery methods have yet to be analyzed and understood, as is the case with the relational aspects of contracts and the achievement of sustainable and energy-efficient infrastructure. Using a hermeneutic interpretation of Macneil’s relational contract norms and grounded theory, 26 contracts involving Quebec’s largest public client of vertical infrastructure and representing three different types of project delivery methods (design–bid–build (DBB), design–Build (DB), and construction manager–general contractor/integrated project delivery (CMGC/IPD)) were analyzed using NVivo. It was found that CMGC/IPD is the most relational project delivery method available to Quebec’s public clients, namely because of the public client’s active involvement in the realization process, the increasing complexity of roles, the multitude of common management structures, and the internalization of sustainability measures and conflict resolution. Furthermore, Quebec’s CMGC/IPD was found to be an IPD-ish delivery method, lacking the early involvement of the construction manager and the risk/reward sharing mechanisms necessary to achieve pure IPD status. The findings and theoretical considerations discussed here will help policymakers, contract drafters, and public clients interested in implementing relational contracting practices in public construction projects. Full article
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Article
Supporting Choice and Control—An Analysis of the Approach Taken to Legal Capacity in Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme
Laws 2019, 8(2), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws8020008 - 27 Mar 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3843
Abstract
In mid-2013, the Australian federal government introduced the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a ground-breaking reform of disability support services, encapsulated by the mantra of increasing “choice and control”. The scheme provides eligible persons with disabilities a legislated entitlement to supports they may [...] Read more.
In mid-2013, the Australian federal government introduced the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a ground-breaking reform of disability support services, encapsulated by the mantra of increasing “choice and control”. The scheme provides eligible persons with disabilities a legislated entitlement to supports they may require to increase their independence and social and economic participation. The NDIS has been hailed as a major step forward in Australia’s efforts to realize the human rights of persons with disabilities, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). A core aspect of the CRPD is guaranteeing persons with disabilities their civil and political right to equality before the law, including their right to enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others, as provided by Article 12 of the CRPD. The purpose of this paper is to examine how the concept of choice and control has been operationalized within the NDIS and to critically analyze the extent to which it accords with the requirements of Article 12. It will be argued that even though the NDIS expressly seeks to implement the CRPD as one of its key objectives, it ultimately falls short in fully embracing the obligations of Article 12 and the notions of autonomy and personhood underlying it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Disability Human Rights Law)
Article
Legal Capacity and Supported Decision-Making: Lessons from Some Recent Legal Reforms
Laws 2019, 8(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws8010004 - 01 Feb 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2962
Abstract
Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls for a thorough review of State laws to recognise the right of persons with disabilities to enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others, thereby abolishing substitute decision-making regimes, [...] Read more.
Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls for a thorough review of State laws to recognise the right of persons with disabilities to enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others, thereby abolishing substitute decision-making regimes, and to receive the support they need for its exercise. With the aim of providing useful guidelines for legislative changes yet to be made, the present study examines and assesses, in the light of the Convention, some of the most recent and innovative legislative reforms in the area of legal capacity. The analysis shows that, although they appropriately reflect a change of perspective, shifting from the paradigm of the “best interests” of the person to the respect of their will and preferences, some of these reforms are not fully satisfactory, particularly because they still allow partial or total deprivation of legal capacity for persons with disabilities, and maintain institutions which perpetuate substitute decision-making. However, the recent modification of the Peruvian Civil Code and Civil Procedure Code deserves a highly positive evaluation as the first regulation of legal capacity and supported decision-making substantially compliant with the Convention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Disability Human Rights Law)
Article
The Legal Profession in the Era of Digital Capitalism: Disruption or New Dawn?
Laws 2019, 8(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws8010001 - 04 Jan 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3957
Abstract
This article investigates the impact of what we label “digital capitalism” on the structure and organization of the legal profession. We explore whether the rise of digital capitalism is transforming the dynamics of the legal field by the introduction of new actors and [...] Read more.
This article investigates the impact of what we label “digital capitalism” on the structure and organization of the legal profession. We explore whether the rise of digital capitalism is transforming the dynamics of the legal field by the introduction of new actors and ways of practicing law, which might challenge the traditional control (and monopoly) of jurists on the production of law. We find that not only have new service providers already entered the legal market, but also new on-line tools for solving legal disputes or producing legal documents are gaining a foothold. Similarly, we also find that new intelligent search systems are challenging the role of junior lawyers and paralegals with regard to reviewing large sets of documents. However, big data techniques deployed to predict future courts’ decisions are not yet advanced enough to pose a challenge. Overall, we argue that these developments will not only change legal practices, but are also likely to influence the internal structure and organization of the legal field. In particular, we argue that the processes of change associated with digitalization is further accelerating the economization and commodification of the practice of law, whereby lawyers are decreasingly disinterested brokers in society and defenders of the public good, and increasingly service firms at the cutting edge of the capitalist economy. These developments are also triggering new forms of stratification of the legal field. While some legal actors will likely benefit from digitalization and expand their business, either by integrating new technologies to reach more clients or by developing new niche areas of practices, the more routinized forms of legal practice are facing serious challenges and will most likely be replaced by technology and associated service firms. Full article
Article
Are Immigrant Women Visible in Australian Domestic Violence Reports that Potentially Influence Policy?
Laws 2018, 7(4), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws7040032 - 21 Sep 2018
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5988
Abstract
Through an intersectional lens, this article explores whether immigrant women are represented in a sample of Australian government documents aimed at providing information about family violence in Australia, and discusses implications for policy development. The authors find that while these documents pay lip [...] Read more.
Through an intersectional lens, this article explores whether immigrant women are represented in a sample of Australian government documents aimed at providing information about family violence in Australia, and discusses implications for policy development. The authors find that while these documents pay lip service to the special vulnerabilities of immigrant and refugee women; arguably, they do not engage with the complexities of the intersection of gender and other social categories. Given that the reports do not focus adequately on how race, ethnicity, culture and immigration status play a role in these women’s experiences of domestic violence, this may limit the effect of policies that address the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) victims’ needs and rights to protection. We argue that a more intersectional approach is necessary to address CALD women’s specific needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Law and Gender Issues)
Article
Here to Stay: The Evolution of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in International Human Rights Law
Laws 2018, 7(3), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws7030029 - 07 Aug 2018
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 5111
Abstract
Sexual and reproductive health and rights have increasingly been recognized in the international arena, but their evolution and the definition of their scope and content have not been received without controversy. From population control to human rights, from demographers’ competence to governmental prerogative, [...] Read more.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights have increasingly been recognized in the international arena, but their evolution and the definition of their scope and content have not been received without controversy. From population control to human rights, from demographers’ competence to governmental prerogative, from couples’ rights to universal rights, this article will present an overview of the evolution of sexual and reproductive rights in the international arena. The development of these rights cannot be read in isolation but must be analyzed together with the broader landscape that hosts social and political movements, ideologies, religions, and revolutions. Understanding sexual and reproductive health and rights as historical creations, rather than timeless givens, enables us to devise historically informed instruments and policies that are more likely to succeed. This article contributes to the scholarly literature by providing an overview of past trends and of the conditions under which they occurred. Retracing the history of these rights enables us to clarify the scope of the state’s obligations to realize the right to sexual and reproductive health, to improve monitoring opportunities, and to ensure accountability for violations. This article explores these (and forthcoming) developments contributing to identify the existing obligations, the relevant actors, and the challenges that lie ahead. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Human Rights Issues)
Article
#MeToo? Legal Discourse and Everyday Responses to Sexual Violence
Laws 2018, 7(2), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws7020021 - 21 May 2018
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 7348
Abstract
Legal consciousness scholars identify the ways in which law is referenced to authorize, define and evaluate behaviors and choices that occur far outside any formal legal framework. They define legality as the “meanings, sources of authority, and cultural practices that are commonly recognized [...] Read more.
Legal consciousness scholars identify the ways in which law is referenced to authorize, define and evaluate behaviors and choices that occur far outside any formal legal framework. They define legality as the “meanings, sources of authority, and cultural practices that are commonly recognized as legal, regardless of who employs them or for what ends.” We use the idea of legality to argue that, in matters of sexual assault and rape, the limits of the law extend beyond the courtroom. Rather than simply influencing or guiding only those who are willing to consult the law in their efforts to seek justice, laws and legal discourse have the potential to frame and constrain any attempt to discuss experiences of sexual violence. #MeToo and other forms of “consciousness-raising” for sexual violence highlight the limiting effects of law and legal discourse on public discussion of sexual violence. We find that, paradoxically, in the case of sexual violence law has the capacity to undermine the goals and benefits of consciousness-raising approaches, privatizing the experience of sexual assault and silencing its victims. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intersection between Law, Politics and Public Policy)
Article
All Their Eggs in One Basket? Ideological Congruence in Congress and the Bicameral Origins of Concentrated Delegation to the Bureaucracy
Laws 2018, 7(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws7020019 - 12 May 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2502
Abstract
What drives congressional choices to concentrate implementation authority for legislative enactments among relatively few bureaucratic institutions? And are increased levels of concentration in implementation power associated with intercameral ideological proximity in Congress? I theorize that greater ideological congruity between the House and Senate [...] Read more.
What drives congressional choices to concentrate implementation authority for legislative enactments among relatively few bureaucratic institutions? And are increased levels of concentration in implementation power associated with intercameral ideological proximity in Congress? I theorize that greater ideological congruity between the House and Senate drives increased levels of concentration in delegated implementation authority to federal agencies. By examining every significant legislative enactment from 1947 to 2012 that delegates implementation responsibility to at least one federal agency, I consider the legislative dynamics of decisions regarding the range of institutions charged with policy implementation in the American administrative state. I find that increased concentration of implementation authority is associated with greater ideological congruence between pivotal members of the House and the Senate. These results suggest that the preferences of key officials in Congress contribute to defining the breadth of bureaucratic implementation authority in the federal policy process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intersection between Law, Politics and Public Policy)
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Article
Reconsidering Sheltered Workshops in Light of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)
Laws 2018, 7(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws7010006 - 05 Feb 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3088
Abstract
Sheltered work and related practices remain a prevalent service for people with intellectual disabilities. However, as a result of being placed in these, participants overwhelmingly remain segregated and excluded from their wider communities. This paper explores whether, with the advent of the United [...] Read more.
Sheltered work and related practices remain a prevalent service for people with intellectual disabilities. However, as a result of being placed in these, participants overwhelmingly remain segregated and excluded from their wider communities. This paper explores whether, with the advent of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we can at least begin to assess the equality implications of such placements and argue that the experience of segregation itself represents numerous rights violations and discrimination. Having considered traditional equality mechanisms and their bearing on people with intellectual disabilities, this discussion explores how far the Convention’s re-envisioning of the basic principles of equality can perhaps provide a more promising outlook and ideological stance. Indeed, during the Convention’s inception, the negotiations circled around the conflicting opinions as to the purpose, usefulness, and future of sheltered work, revealing the existing tensions between protection and autonomy, shrouding all disability policy discussions. As a result, the question of sheltered work is not explicitly addressed in the treaty and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have been unable to definitively declare that the practice of sheltered work constitutes an act of discrimination. However, the Committee does as times demand that sheltered workshops be phased out where it is obvious that the practice of sheltered work is directly linked to the exploitation of workers. Moreover, certain provisions in the Convention might help in determining wrongful discrimination in some, if limited, instances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Disability Human Rights Law)
Article
Freedom of Opinion and Expression: From the Perspective of Psychosocial Disability and Madness
Laws 2018, 7(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws7010003 - 04 Jan 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4113
Abstract
This article argues that civil mental health laws operate to constrict how people think, understand, and speak about psychosocial disability, madness, and mental distress. It does so with reference to views and experiences of mental health service users and psychiatric survivors (users and [...] Read more.
This article argues that civil mental health laws operate to constrict how people think, understand, and speak about psychosocial disability, madness, and mental distress. It does so with reference to views and experiences of mental health service users and psychiatric survivors (users and survivors) and their/our accounts of disability, madness, and distress, such as those articulated by the emerging field of Mad studies. The analysis considers the application of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression that are enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international human rights instruments to the mental health context. The article explores the suppression of freedom of opinion and expression that is effected through the symbolic violence of psychiatry and the mental health paradigm. Focusing on Australian legal frameworks, the article discusses how the material violence and coercion characterising mental health laws compound this process. It is further argued that civil mental health laws, by codifying the tenets of psychiatry and the mental health paradigm so as to render them largely unassailable, validate the ontological nullification of users and survivors. The foregoing analysis exposes dangers of adopting a functional test of mental capacity as the pre-eminent legal standard for authorising involuntary mental health interventions. It is suggested that considering freedom of opinion and expression from the perspective of psychosocial disability and madness reinforces the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ interpretation that such interventions are incompatible with international human rights standards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Disability Human Rights Law)

Review

Review
The Secret Silent Spaces of Workplace Violence: Focus on Bullying (and Harassment)
Laws 2018, 7(4), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws7040035 - 29 Oct 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3438
Abstract
Any form of workplace abuse, be it bullying, sexual or non-sexual harassment, or other forms of workplace violence, represents a significant problem for both workers and organisations. The reality that worker complaints of such abuse are often silenced, frequently for long periods of [...] Read more.
Any form of workplace abuse, be it bullying, sexual or non-sexual harassment, or other forms of workplace violence, represents a significant problem for both workers and organisations. The reality that worker complaints of such abuse are often silenced, frequently for long periods of time, has recently been spotlighted by the #MeToo movement. In this article we focus particularly on workplace bullying (some definitions include harassment). We explore how potential, and actual, complaints of such abuse may silenced—both before complaints are ever made, and also at different points along the complaint or dispute resolution process. We investigate how definitional and naming issues, worker ignorance and incapacity, workplace investigations, (alternative) dispute resolution and the legal pathways available to targets of workplace bullying and harassment may act to silence complaints. We also provide some practical suggestions for the targets of workplace abuse. Full article
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