Reflections on the Role of the Judiciary during the COVID-19 Pandemic

During the pandemic, courts have played a vital role in ensuring the constitutionality of state action especially in cases where emergency legislation and excessive emergency measures were challenged. A common thread that has emerged from such constitutional challenges is the strain that the pandemic has put on public trust in the executive and the separation of powers between government branches. Because executive orders limiting the exercise of fundamental rights raise complex legal questions for which there is no judicial precedent, this paper reflects on the challenges faced by African domestic courts in protecting the terrain of the legislature and the executive.While some states have granted leeway to executive-branch officials on questions of statutory interpretation, others were quick to interfere with governments responses to the pandemic. Thus, the crux of this discussion is whether public trust is reinforced through judicial deference to other branches or judicial scrutiny.

‘Gateway Vaccine’: Will the COVID-19 pandemic change the approach to health data processing?

In the past year, COVID-19 vaccination programs have been implemented worldwide. At the same time, the vast majority of countries have not decided to introduce compulsory vaccination. Instead, they opted for instruments that allow immunization or health status verification. These instruments (e.g., EU Digital COVID Certificate) are used for a more traditional purpose – to enable international travel but are also applied in various domestic contexts. The latter often assumes sharing health data daily and in most ordinary circumstances. Much attention has been paid to the influence of using COVID certificates on the rights of unvaccinated persons. However, it is also necessary to acknowledge the long-term effects of the adopted solutions on privacy. Data related to health are subject to special protection and, so far, their processing outside the health care context has been limited. The paper addresses the consequences of normalizing health data processing in informational capitalism.

Self-estranged parliaments: lack of proactivity in times of public health crises

In contrast to having a robust parliamentary background and legacy, Turkey’s switch to presidential system had considerable repercussions on the historically rooted institutions including the Parliament, as the first constitutional institution in Ottoman-Turkish history limiting the prerogatives of the monarch. Despite its primary purpose of enacting laws, the Parliament could not to live up to its potential, especially in the field of public health and fundamental rights protection during the COVID19 pandemic. The lack of parliamentary initiative could be associated with its composition, the oppositions’ passiveness, the executive-legislative relations and eventually the regime shift. In these regards, the democratic backsliding in Turkey is reflected in the institutional erosion of the Parliament due to the 2017 constitutional amendments and the political context. However, ensuring separation of powers and functionalising checks and balances could reverse this institutional decay.

Compel, condition or persuade? Vaccines in the dialectic between public power and individual self-determination

One of the areas in which the COVID19 pandemic has revealed problematic tensions concerns the relation between public power and the right to self-determination, with special reference to the health sphere, where States try to reconcile the need to preserve the wellbeing of the individuals, with the aim of not undermining their right to self-determination.
As regards vaccination, during the COVID19 pandemic, in addition to the usual combination of persuasion and imposition, a third way has been added in the form of a certification requirement which, while allowing for alternative options, has in fact proved to be a convincing incentive to resort to vaccination. But what is the best approach for the public authorities to adopt to guide decisions in the health sphere: persuade, condition or directly oblige?
The contribution will try to highlight the positive and negative aspects of all three options, in an attempt to frame them in the dimension of a democratic State under the rule of law

The Impact of Pandemics on Contract Law since 1900

COVID-19 has challenged contracts between parties. This talk will show how, in reality, global pandemics since 1900 have challenged the principle of force majeure. Nevertheless, this paper asserts that pandemics are inevitable parts of our lives. Therefore, humans must adapt to them and assume all business risks when entering into business contracts.

The present paper explores the force majeure principle contained in the Code Civil 1804 by examining interpretations of it from the American, and Chinese perspectives, as these were the three major ones contributing to interpretations of the principle. In addition, this paper presents the Maltese approach because the mentioned Code highly influenced it.

This paper is relevant to this conference since it will primarily focus on COVID-19. COVID-19 and contract law are fundamental because they challenge the idea of good faith in contracts and allow force majeure in one more instance.