First ‘exercise’ on Law and Language

Dear all,

as said before, you should use this blog to continue the discussions started in class. On the basis of the topics developed during the first week of classes, we therefore ask you to answer at least one of the following questions:

1) Could you provide an example of an extremely complicated legal text according to the standards of readability discussed on Thursday?

2) The Constitution of a state can be considered its ‘founding narrative’. In particular, we can compare the articles 1 of different Constitutions. Could you give an example explaining what story the art. 1 you chose tells us?

3) In Italy, legal texts seem to have become more and more complicated starting from the unification of Italy until today. Could you provide an example of this change?


15 thoughts on “First ‘exercise’ on Law and Language

  1. Eugenio Carucci says:

    art 1 “Cuba is a socialist State of workers, independent and sovereign, organized with all and for the good of all, as a united, democratic republic, for the enjoyment of political freedom, social justice, individual and collective welfare, and human solidarity.”
    This is the first article of the cuban Constitution approved in 1976 by the Communist Party.
    Infact Cuba is definied as a socialist State, indipendent and sovereign. In this article there’s the same reference to the labour as in the Italian constitution. The aim of this united and democratic republic is the wellness of everybody. The State wants to ensure political freedom, social justice, welfare and human solidariety to his citizens. I think that by reading this text we find a mix of the socialist spirit of latin american countries and the values of liberal state.
    3) The italian legal system has become more and more complex and often it is known to be chaotic and full of too many laws, decrets and regulaments. In the last years the quality of writing of the italian laws has get considerably worse. It’s felt the need of a delegification and of a linguistic quality improvement to make laws better understandable for entrepreneurs and common people. Is really the legislator going that way? The constitutional reform as we are going to vote in december affects many articles, in my opinion the new text is more difficult to read by a non law expert. If it’s true that the Constitution as the main law of a State is the base of a democratic community, I think that it should be also a great lecture for every citizen part of it. In my opinion the new article 70 is not a good example of the clarity I would expect to find in a Constitution, which instead it was the previous formulation.
    Eugenio Carucci


  2. Gennaro Di Martino says:

    In Italy, legal texts have become more complicated from the unification until today. Because of an inexperienced and not very cohesive political class, the laws have become a subject of compromise between political parties.
    In 2001 Italian constitution has been largely changed. The modification of the article 117 is a perfect exemple how law has become ever more complicated: before this modification, there were few legal conflicts between State and Regions; after this modification, there are 120 conflicts a year (one every three days): an objective exemple of how a bad written law can create confusion and disorder.
    Tax law is another area very hit by complicated laws: high technicality and continuos changes don’t allow people to understand these texts, and this is bad for two reasons: first, you could have problems calculating your taxes; second, you need an expert to comprehend the text’s meaning.
    I think that quality of laws can be improved in two different ways. The first one is by cutting the number of current laws: semplify them. In fact in Italy you can find a number of laws fifteen times higher than in the rest of the Europe.
    The second one is by preventing legislative confusion, writing better laws, before them enter in force: if you write clearly laws, you don’t need to interpret each time them.
    Even the italian Costitutional Court (1988) and Supreme Court (2002) remembered the importance of avoiding obscure laws.


  3. Christian Gatto says:

    1) I think that an example of complicated legal text is the law 241 of 1990, the basic law of Italian administrative law, one of the most complicated and incomprehensible branch the law.
    This law is made by 46 articles, and the most of them are composed by a lot of words. For example, art. 14-bis, 1 subparagraph, has 89 words. Considering that art. 14-bis has 5 subparagraphs with the same length of the first, it has about 400 words.
    Fortunately, there are some articles shorter then others, for example art. 21-sexies that has only 18 words.

    2) The art. 1 of the Polish Constitution says: “The Republic of Poland is common good of all citizens”.
    I think that this article is the sign of the pride of a people that, in the history, has suffered the conquest by other populations. During this dominations, the name “Poland” disappeared from Europe geographic maps. In addiction, last but not the least, all of us know the facts of 2nd world war.
    So, this first article of the Constitution of 1997 is the expression of the loyalty that Polish feel for their country.


  4. Riccardo Ciarlone says:

    2)One of the youngest constitutions in Europe, having regard to its recent change, is the Hungarian constitution. The Hungarian constitution was the subject of a reform in 2011 and entered into force on 1 January 2012. The Notoriety of this constitution is given by the fact that he received a lot of criticism because of its possible anti-democratic tendencies and then we will see why.
    Unlike other constitutions, the Hungarian uses an unusual number. The Constitution consists of three parts with a different numbering.
    The articles in the first part on the foundations are marked by a letter, the second part on the rights and duties brings Roman numerals and, finally, the third part on the organization of the state, has Arabic numerals.
    In this case, however, the “founding narrative” is not given so much from the first articles of the constitution, as the introductory Preamble of the constitution that makes us understand what are the values of the Hungarian Constitution!
    In fact at the beginning of the Preamble, it’s mentioned the medieval king St. Stephen and the gratitude of the Hungarian people for him, because thanks to him, Hungary was included in Christian Europe. So, on the one hand it is exalted the role of Christianity, on the other hand it’s underlined the commitment of the Hungarian people to maintain the intellectual and spiritual unity of the Catholic religion.
    Despite the exaltation of the Christian religion and of the Hungarian people, it’s pointed out, though at a later time, the respect for other religious traditions and other “national minorities” recognized integral part of the Hungarian community.
    It’s not a case that we notice, already in the Incipit, how the reference point are members of the
    “Hungarian nation” ethnically identified, distinct and different from those who, possessing the nationality, belong to what are called “the nationalities living with us.”
    In fact the biggest criticisms that are leveled against this constitution are the following:
    the confessional character present strongly in the Constitution, which presents itself as Catholic and devoted to the “Christian God”. Since great Enlightenment revolutions many intellectuals and heroic figures who gave their lives to establish that church and state were two separate worlds and no one should enter the other’s life. So it is not in Hungary!
    While the new Hungarian constitution is presented as a symbol of peace and harmony, on the other side, it doesn’t provide any recognition of pluralism!
    In fact, the Preamble transmits those values extremely nationalists that contrast with the principles guaranteed and defended by the European Union of which Hungary is a member. An example of this, we saw about a year ago, when Hungary was enclosed within its borders to prevent the “siege” of the Syrians.

    3)Because of legal and linguistic phenomenon, now we live in the era of “antilingua istituzionale” ,as rightly said Italo Calvino in 1965. In fact from Unification of Italy to date, we convoluted, did not evolve!
    We have gone from an era in which, when Ugo Fuscolo was commissioned by the Ministry to draft the Military Penal Code, he proposed to draft it in a transparent and clear style, which doesn’t leave doubts about the interpretation of the words, with the objective of safeguarding and defend “religious accuracy” of the Italian language. However, we arrived at a time when, is violated or there are continuous attempts of violation of this religiosity of the Italian language.
    We think of the constitutional reform that was passed by Parliament in November 2005, then fortunately rejected by popular referendum.
    For example, it wanted to replace Article 70 of the Constitution ( “The legislative function is exercised collectively by both Houses.”) characterized by a clear and concise style, with a new legislative text of 596 words instead characterized by several linguistic defects that violate the religion mentioned by Foscolo!
    But the problems don’t end there! In 2004, the President of the Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi postponed to Parliament the judicial reform of the law known as “Legge Castelli”, because the provisions of this legislation were contained in only two articles! And the second article was made up of 49 paragraphs and occupied 38 of the 40 pages of which consisted this legislative text!
    Therefore, this legislation was unconstitutional because it contrasted with Article 72 of the constitution that every law must be approved “article by article and with a final vote”.
    In short, the government of that time, wanted to make fun and elude a man like Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who was one of the greatest observers and analysts of the Italian language and of legislative texts, and his master’s degree at the “Scuola Normale of Pisa” in classical philology and Greek literature, are one of the political capacity indices.
    So with this practice of decrees and unique articles not only creates linguistic and conceptual monsters, but it violates the constitutional principle!
    This modus agendi has been typical of recent governments; just remember that about a year ago, the current prime minister declared that he would rule with a series of decrees to counter the slowness of parliament!
    Therefore the problem of “antilingua istituzionale” remain and it is clear, a problem that perhaps reached one of the peaks in 2008 when was enacted the “Law 133/2008”
    This legislative text contained inside regulations related to matters completely different from each other! It contained provisions concerning education, public administration, the liberalization of public services and the liberalization of fuel!


  5. Valentina Ertola says:

    2) The art. 1 of the Malagasy Constitution ( 19/08/1992) declares:
    “The Malagasy people shall constitute a Nation organized as a sovereign, secular State.”
    “This State shall be a Republic, unique and indivisible, and shall be named “Republic of Madagascar.”
    “Democracy shall be the basis of the Republic. Its sovereignty shall be exercised within the territorial limits recognized by international law”
    This article represents, first of all, the population’s desire of national unity.
    Moreover, the reference to democracy shows a particular attencion to gaurantee that either civilian or military people will be submitted to the same law, with no partiality.
    On the other hand this fact shows also a sort of fear of a possible return to Monarchy.
    The reference to the international law proves the Madagascar’s intention to be considered in an international scenery as an active participant , fact that is also proved by its acceptance to the International Charter of Human Rights and the African Charter of Human Rights.
    3) I think that a good example of the increasing of the complexity or, better, the specificity of italian law is the comparison between the original and the new draft of the first article of bankruptcy law. The original one was published with the “Regio decreto of march 16 1942, n. 267” and the new one (or the last one of the huge quantity of modifications that have interested this law through this 74 years) was introducted by the L. 30 giugno 2016, n. 119.
    The last draft of the bankrupticy law is surely more specific than the first one, there are more clauses that are strictly connected to the performance of the economy, and this fact, in addition to the necessity of being in the know of legislative evolution makes the comprehension of the text harder for common people, that surely will have to contact an expert.


  6. edoardo briganti says:

    1. Republic of South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is one, sovereign, democratic state founded on the following values:

    a. Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms.

    b. Non-racialism and non-sexism.

    c. Supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law.

    d. Universal adult suffrage, a national common voters roll, regular elections and a multi-party system of democratic government, to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness.

    This article is an extraordinary example of the clarity that all constitutions should have.
    The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, was approved by the Constitutional Court (CC) on 4 December 1996 and took effect on 4 February 1997. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. No other law or government action can supersede the provisions of the Constitution. South Africa’s Constitution is one of the most progressive in the world and enjoys high acclaim internationally. The Constitution recognizes a “common South African citizenship” with equal entitlement to rights and responsibilities. In particular this article states the founding values of South African Republic that are the heart of the legal system. Great importance has the point B about the value of “non-racialism”, considering the history of this nation. The “ratio” of this article and of the all chapter 1 is to emphasize the values of a Democratic Republic.

    About the formulation is evident that the article is made up of common and simple words and this is why is understendable for the majority of population and doesn’t need particular skills.

    2) The reform of V title of Italian Constitution (2001) is an example of the process that make the legal texts more and more complicated starting from the unification of Italy until today. After the reform in the 119 article there are a lot of complicated words belonging to the tax law area like “perequetivo” and this makes the article difficult to understand for the majority of common people. This article is not according to the standard of readibility of italian constitution because is made up of long periods and difficult words. The Constitution is the heart of our legal system and should be understandable to the common people and not just to legal experts.

    Current formulation
    I Comuni, le Province, le Città metropolitane e le Regioni hanno autonomia finanziaria di entrata e di spesa, nel rispetto dell’equilibrio dei relativi bilanci, e concorrono ad assicurare l’osservanza dei vincoli economici e finanziari derivanti dall’ordinamento dell’Unione Europea.
    I Comuni, le Province, le Città metropolitane e le Regioni hanno risorse autonome. Stabiliscono e applicano tributi ed entrate propri, in armonia con la Costituzione e secondo i princìpi di coordinamento della finanza pubblica e del sistema tributario. Dispongono di compartecipazioni al gettito di tributi erariali riferibile al loro territorio.
    La legge dello Stato istituisce un fondo perequativo, senza vincoli di destinazione, per i territori con minore capacità fiscale per abitante.
    Le risorse derivanti dalle fonti di cui ai commi precedenti consentono ai Comuni, alle Province, alle Città metropolitane e alle Regioni di finanziare integralmente le funzioni pubbliche loro attribuite.
    Per promuovere lo sviluppo economico, la coesione e la solidarietà sociale, per rimuovere gli squilibri economici e sociali, per favorire l’effettivo esercizio dei diritti della persona, o per provvedere a scopi diversi dal normale esercizio delle loro funzioni, lo Stato destina risorse aggiuntive ed effettua interventi speciali in favore di determinati Comuni, Province, Città metropolitane e Regioni.
    I Comuni, le Province, le Città metropolitane e le Regioni hanno un proprio patrimonio, attribuito secondo i princìpi generali determinati dalla legge dello Stato. Possono ricorrere all’indebitamento solo per finanziare spese di investimento, con la contestuale definizione dei piani di ammortamento e a condizione che per il complesso degli enti di ciascuna Regione sia rispettato l’equilibrio di bilancio. È esclusa ogni garanzia dello Stato sui prestiti dagli stessi contratti, con la contestuale definizione di piani di ammortamento e a condizione che per il complesso degli enti di ciascuna Regione sia rispettato l’equilibrio di bilancio.

    Previous formulation
    Le Regioni hanno autonomia finanziaria nelle forme e nei limiti stabiliti da leggi della Repubblica, che la coordinano con la finanza dello Stato, delle Province e dei Comuni. Alle Regioni sono attribuiti tributi propri e quote di tributi erariali, in relazione ai bisogni delle Regioni per le spese necessarie ad adempiere le loro funzioni normali.
    Per provvedere a scopi determinati, e particolarmente per valorizzare il Mezzogiorno e le Isole, lo Stato assegna per legge a singole Regioni contributi speciali.
    La Regione ha un proprio demanio e patrimonio, secondo le modalità stabilite con legge della Repubblica”.

    Edoardo Briganti


  7. Corinna Canale says:

    1) An example of an extremely complicated legal text could be the legislative decree n. 179/2012, called “Decreto Crescita 2.0” (Development Decree 2.0). Besides the fact that this decree contains different topics, maybe sometimes obscurely related between each other (we can see in the same decree subjects like “digital healthcare”, “financial market” and “telematic justice”), the text itself contains 39 articles, not such a big deal if we wouldn’t count the different “-bis, -ter, -quater”, ecc. that we can spot in different parts of the decree. Moreover, almost each article doesn’t respect the standars of readability because of the eccessive lenght of the paragraphs and the obscure words contained in them. I would point out especially the sixth section, which is about the telematic justice. Here we have apparently only three articles, 16, 17 and 18. But the article 16 is divided from “bis” to “undecies”, and even if they’re added articles it contributes to make this decree more confusing. Picking one of this “partition” of the article 16, for example the 16-bis, we can see that it’s composed by approximately 27 sentences, also full of asides. Of course it’s a key of obscurity, because it’s really hard to consult a text like that even for “law operators” like judges, lawyers, who are the principal subjects of this part of the decree 179/2012.

    2) Article 1 of the Nepalese Constitution:
    1.This constitution is the fundamental law of Nepal. Any law inconsistent with this constitution shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void.
    2.It shall be the duty of every person to observe this constitution.

    In the first article of the Nepalese Constitution (the latest one in the world, published in September 2015), which is the first democratic Constitution in Nepal, apparently we can see only the strictly order to observe a Constitution due to its strenght because it’s the primary law of the Nepalese country. But behind those few lines of that article it’s obvious the aim to avoid any contrast with this newborn text of law. Indeed, this Constitution took birth after years of struggles against the old monarchic system, due to a feudal state still based on castes, which led to a civil war started by the Maoist Party in 1996 and concluded with the abdication of the King Gyanendra, the subsequent abandonment of the monarchy and the proclamation of the republican system in 2008. Nevertheless, the republic was still incomplete and a new official document for this new regulated system was needed. But seven years more were necessary to conlude this path. This Constitution is born from an effort made by traditional parties (especially the Congress Party, the democratic one, with the addiction of different communist parties) and by the Maoist ex-insurgents. Now we can read in this brand new fundamental text the conclusive and permanent definition of the Nepalese country, namely that Nepal is a laical federal democratic republic, abandoning also Induism as the official religion. This document is the symbol of an highly required text representative of a kind of new reality and safeguarding different religions (we said “laical republic” indeed), ethnic groups (in Nepal there are more than 100 different groups) and sex equality. In fact, the Parliament voted more or less with the unanimity (507 for and just 25 against). Even if a few contradictions can be spotted, for example for the religious and sex equality points and for the reallocation of wealth, this text it’s just the start for a new era for the Nepalese country, reached by difficult years of internal bloody war, and that’s why the first article is so strict, having the aim to prevent to destroy all the efforts made to reach this new point of a paceful republic which must not be hindered in any way. That’s also confirmed by the preamble of the Constitution itself: “Remembering the glorious history of historical peoples’ movements and armed struggles time and again and the sacrifice made by people for national interest, democracy, progressive change, and recognizing the martyrs, the disappeared citizens and the victims […] Now therefore, in order to fulfill the aspirations for perpetual peace, good governance, development and prosperity through the medium of federal democratic republican system of governance, hereby promulgate this Constitution through the Constituent Assembly”.


  8. Cedric Conboy says:

    1) the founding legal text for English compensation law comes in the form of an old case. This was a case from 1932. Donoghue v Stevenson. In this case, a woman bought her friend a bottle of ginger beer. In this bottle was a decomposing snail! It isn’t difficult to see what happened next. The woman fell ill and sued the manufacturer. The manufacturer then went on to say that Mrs Donoghue didn’t buy the bottle therefore was not liable to compensation.
    It was held that the manufacturer always has a duty to the final consumer. Except it was said in very flowery language:

    “”At present I content myself with pointing out that in English law there must be, and is, some general conception of relations giving rise to a duty of care, of which the particular cases found in the books are but instances. The liability for negligence, whether you style it such or treat it as in other systems as a species of “culpa,” is no doubt based upon a general public sentiment of moral wrongdoing for which the offender must pay. But acts or omissions which any moral code would censure cannot, in a practical world, be treated so as to give a right to every person injured by them to demand relief. In this way rules of law arise which limit the range of complainants and the extent of their remedy. The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law, you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer’s question, Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law, is my neighbour? The answer seems to be – persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.””

    Even I could not understand much of that and that is dangerous considering it is the founding legal text for English compensation law. This is now at the heart of the English legal system.

    2) In the UK we do not have an article 1 of the constitution. That is very telling of our attitudes as a nation. We have what is an unwritten constitution. Our constitution is conserved in what we call conventions. That is to say “the way things have always been done”. Otherwise our legal system is governed by two things: legislation and precedent. Precedent is very important in UK law. Essentially, what happened in a previous case is the thing upon which the decision in the future case is based upon. That seems very weird. Some judges like the famed Denning mold the law to their liking but most stick to the law. IT is very difficult to change the law in England!
    But back to the essential point, there is no constitution essentially written in the UK. I spent an entire year studying constitutional law and still have absolutely no idea what I am talking about when I say constitution!


  9. Francesca Ginese says:

    1) Could you provide an example of an extremely complicated legal text according to the standards of readability discussed on Thursday?

    I personally find the swiss legal texts and their constitution extremely complicated according to the standards of readability. This is because there is a combination of the four official languages of Switzerland: Italian, German, French and Romancian; thus, it includes very different legal, administrative and political languages. However, the constitution itself, which comprehend the regulation of laws, rules, decrees of corners and districts, is not so difficult to understand; the complexity I am talking about is rooted in the cultural differences and, consequently, the different ways of creating certain laws for specific things. For example, when the legislator’s intention is to induce people to have a determinate behavior the Italian language tries to describe the legal contents as a matter of facts, avoiding the obligatory forms. This is a deep difference compared to the German language, which, instead, uses a lot of obligatory forms for the same issue. It is possible to find another example to support my thesis in the article 3 of the Switzerland civil code (which is, or at least should be, unique for the whole country). The Italian version says that the good faith “has to be” presumed, while the German version says that the good faith ”is” presumed. However, for federal laws, instead, there is an editing commission composed by deputies, translators and experts whose task is the one of verifying and solving terminological or interpretative problems. Despite this, it should be taken into account that translation mistakes are always possible.

    2) The Constitution of a state can be considered its ‘founding narrative’. In particular, we can compare the articles 1 of different Constitutions. Could you give an example explaining what story the art. 1 you chose tells us?

    Section 1
    1. Spain is hereby established as a social
    and democratic State, subject to the rule of
    law, which advocates freedom, justice, equality
    and political pluralism as highest values of
    its legal system.
    2. National sovereignty belongs to the
    Spanish people, from whom all State powers
    3. The political form of the Spanish State is
    the Parliamentary Monarchy.

    The Spanish Constitution of 1978 (Constitución española de 1978) is the current supreme law of the Kingdom of Spain. It was enacted after the country’s 1978 constitutional referendum, which was the consequence of an historical process denominated “Transición española” (Spanish transition). This transition transformed the francoist regim, that was a conservative, authoritarian, conservative and Catholic dictatorial regim (partially inspired from fascism) to a parliamentary monarchy which consecrate a social and democratic state and a corporation under specific legislations. The sovereign power of the king or queen has just a symbolic role, since every act needs the Prime Minister or the Congress of deputies President’s agreement to be enacted. The Spanish constitution shows how the sovranity belongs to the population and how it is strong its interest for civil rights, since it considers freedom, justice and political pluralism as supreme values of the judicial system.


  10. Sophie Schaaps says:

    2) The Constitution of a state can be considered its ‘founding narrative’. In particular, we can compare the articles 1 of different Constitutions. Could you give an example explaining what story the art. 1 you chose tells us?

    German constitution

    Article 1 [Human dignity – Human rights – Legally binding force of basic rights]
    (1) Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.
    (2) The German people therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable human rights as the basis of every community, of peace and of justice in the world.
    (3) The following basic rights shall bind the legislature, the executive and the judiciary as directly applicable law.

    The constitution of the Weimar Republic issued from the humanism of the Enlightenment, which includes the dignity and liberty of every human being. 1933, the National Socialists used and finally suspended completely this given democratic liberty of the weimar constitution. After the Second World War, the USA, France and the United Kingdom demanded from the minister-president of the occupied federal states, a temporary constitution. Temporary, because of the hope for a reunion of the Soviet Union occupied part of Germany. A parlamentary council worked out a new german constitution. It was decided by the parlaments of the federal states, but not by the people themselves.
    Because of all the crimes and terror of the Second World War, the constitution puts the dignity of the humans in its center. The article 1 of the german constitution is composed by three paragraphs. Even the content seems to divide it into three parts : The first paragraph would concern the individual, the second concerns the people of the german state and the third one concerns the executive power.
    The first article, particularly the first paragraph is outstanding for the reminder of the human dignity : it forbids clearly the objectification of the humann being. This statement seems unworthy of discussion, which is particular in the use of the language in a constitution.
    Nevertheless, the entire article 1 is kept in a simple and clear language using present sentences. But in the same time, it makes statements about the present and consecutive events.
    Finally, Article 1 leaves pending questions :
    – What is the Human dignity (Paragraph 1)? It is not refined in the article.
    – Is the first paragraph considered as a basic right, when only the „following basic rights bind the legislature, the executive and the judiciary as directly applicable law“ (Paragraph 3)?

    Despite everything, the new constitution was ment to be the first step in a new era in the german history.


  11. annearoma says:

    1) Could you provide an example of an extremely complicated legal text according to the standards of readability discussed on Thursday?

    The only text I can think of is a Dutch law. It’s called ‘Wet Financieel Toezicht’ translated it is called the Law of Financial Supervision. It is a law that is made to supervise or check the financial sector in the Netherlands. Here financial institutions can see to which requirements they have to fulfill in order to operate legally and how the state is allowed to supervise these institutions. So it is a very important legal text for the Dutch economy, but for someone who has not studied law it is incredibly hard to understand what it says. That is also because every year the law is modified, because the state wants to keep control.

    2) The Constitution of a state can be considered its ‘founding narrative’. In particular, we can compare the articles 1 of different Constitutions. Could you give an example explaining what story the art. 1 you chose tells us?

    I chose the Dutch constitution and since I don’t study Law I was shocked that I knew so little about my own constitution. Our constitution was formed in 1814.

    Article 1 is known as the prohibition to discriminate / equality principle
    ‘Every person in the Netherlands has to be treated equally. Discrimination upon religion, political ideas, race, gender is prohibited. Hatred or discrimination is punishable.’

    The rights that derive from this article are:
    -right to vote -right of petition -right of religion -freedom of speech (freedom of the press) -right to privacy -right to liberty and labour rights

    I also found out that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is based on this Dutch principle of article 1.


  12. Anael Souffir says:

    Sorry to post my comment only now, I didn’t see the request because I didn’t sign up, better late than never though 😉

    About the first question , I wanted to make a point about the relevance of the inability to understand the judgment and decisions of the State Council in France. I don’t know if it’s similar in Italy or other of your countries guys but in France, before the simplification reform, each decisions were very hard to understand because of several faults :
    First of all, the vocabulary used : those décision accessible on the web are actually not accessible and understandable at all for common people who are not familiar with the juridical vocabulary and even me when I started my law degree at the university I couldn’t understand the sens of the decision. So I wondered what was the aim of make it accessible to everyone if anyone can understand except the experts like lawyers etc ?
    Not only the vocabulary was an issue but also the structure of the sentences and the punctuation the syntax and the formulation used at the begging of each sentence. It didn’t make any sens to me, beginner in the juridical system trying to keep my head over the water reading these texts.
    Many examples could be given but items in French so I don’t see the usefulness to show you sentences you probably won’t understand but you can may be check this decisions to see at least how it was structured : CE – 22/12/1978 Cohn Bendit about the juridical impact of the community directives.
    I took a ancient example to show you the lack of intelligibility at the time.
    Fortunately, even though we had to study these old decisions, the modernization and the simplification reform helped us to understand the most recent one.

    About the second interrogation:

    I choose the article 1 of the French Constitution :
    « La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale. Elle assure l’égalité devant la loi de tous les citoyens sans distinction d’origine, de race ou de religion. Elle respecte toutes les croyances. Son organisation est décentralisée.”
    Translated : France is an indivisible, lay, democratic and social Republic. It ensures equality before the law for every citizens without any distinction about origins, race or religion. It respects every beliefs. It’s organization is decentralized.”

    This first article appears very clear and understandable for each person who can read and establish the very basics principles of our Republic.
    It obviously has a founding narrative because our constitution has evolved through the several Republics over the time.
    This article provides and furthers the equal access for both man and women to the electoral mandates and electives functions and also to the social and professional responsibilities.
    Out current constitution was established on the October 4th of 1958. We can notice that the recognition of the Equality between man and women on the electoral matter has been published officially in our constitution more than 10 years after the acceptance for the right to vote for women in 1944.
    It can seems weird and make no sense but it actually shows the founding narrative in a certain manner. Indeed, it shows the evolution of our society directly through the first article of the constitution and directly reffers to the fight led I order to establish this equity in our country.
    I think it is the perfect example to demonstrate that the constitution can considered its founding narrative actually because the first article of the French constitution reflects one of the most important improvement of our society and the awareness of the government about the social issues existing at the time.
    In my opinion the main sens of this 1st article shows us a real interpretation of the story of the 1st article establishement.


  13. Amanda Rossini says:

    2.) First article of brazilian constitution:
    Art. 1o A República Federativa do Brasil, formada pela união indissolúvel dos Estados e Municípios e do Distrito Federal, constitui-se em Estado democrático de direito e tem como fundamentos:
    I – a soberania;
    II – a cidadania;
    III – a dignidade da pessoa humana;
    IV – os valores sociais do trabalho e da livre iniciativa;
    V – o pluralismo político.
    Parágrafo único. Todo o poder emana do povo, que o exerce por meio de
    representantes eleitos ou diretamente, nos termos desta Constituição.”
    article 1. The Federative Republic of Brazil, formed by the indissoluble union of the states and municipalities and of the federal district, is a legal democratic state and is founded on:
    I – sovereignty;
    II – citizenship;
    III – the dignity of the human person;
    IV – the social values of labour and of the free enterprise; v – political pluralism.
    Sole paragraph. all power emanates from the people, who exercise it by means of elected representatives or directly, as provided by this constitution.”
    In order to explain the story behind the first article it is essential to have some knowledge about brazil’s history as a country. In a general way, we could say that Brazil had throughout the years 7 constitutions and each one of them has its background relevance. Focusing on our current constitution (also called Citizen Constitution) that was promulgated in 1988, the background is very intriguing since we were coming from a very stressful period of military dictatorship and the very purpose of this new constitution was to guarantee all the human rights and restrict state’s ability to limit freedom, to punish people for political offenses and to regulate their individual lives. I think the Sole paragraph emphasizes these last intentions when recalls that the citizens have the power to elect their representatives according to the bases provided by the constitution. Another important point is that the first four articles of our constitution (fundamental principles) are responsible of defining the political, social and juridical bases of Brazil.


  14. Luise Wangler says:

    2) The first article of the Egyptian Constitution

    The Arab Republic of Egypt is a sovereign state, united and indivisible, where nothing is dispensable, and its system is democratic republic based on citizenship and the rule of law.
    Egypt is part of the Arab nation and enhances its integration and unity. It is part of the Muslim world, belongs to the African continent, is proud of its Asian dimension, and contributes to building human civilization.

    The Egyptian constitution is very recent. In 2011 the Egyptian people started to stand up against their government and called for liberty, the rule of law, democracy and a new constitution to break with their old system. Since this time Egyptians struggles to find a new system for their country. First, in 2012, after the military had subvert the „pseudo-democratic“ president Mubarak, the Islamist took the power and a new constitution was released. But after a long series of protests and violence in 2013 the military dethroned the new president Mursi. In 2014, under the control of the military the actual constitution was announced. In the first article of the constitution of 2014 we can see/ read the struggle of this disrupted country to find its unity between Islamist, Non-Islamist, but also its own identity. The Egypt that maybe most of us have in mind, the mystical place of the early high cultures ruled by the pharaoh, the sons of the sun god Re terminated already 1000 years before christ. Since this era, Egypt was mainly under the rule of alternate and different empires, which teared the country apart for their own interests (The Persians, Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire). Around 640, the muslim arabs conquered Egypt and established the Arabic culture there. In the late 18th and the 19th century, Egypt was mainly ruled by the colonial powers of Great Britain and only became an independent country with their first constitution in 1922. But also then the struggles didn’t end and in 1948 Egypt had to fight against the new announced country of Israel and its claim for land and also against Great Britain and France who took the right to interfere because of the different interests in the Suez Canal. In the late 50s Egypt, Syria and North Yemen declared the United Arabic Republic, as the dream of the muslims to be a Arabic unity, which was torn apart only in 1961. After new fights against Israel in 1979 finally a peace contract could be released, which guaranteed the Sinai to Egypt but isolated the country from the Arabic states. In the 80s Mubarak was officially elected by the Egyptian people but he mainly ruled the republic as an autocrat for years. So maybe now we can understand the Egyptian people and their try to find and formulate a solution in their first article to frame its own identity as a united people, besides the foreign regimes and besides their own separation through the struggle of finding unity and their own system. Therefore the base is the rule of law and the sovereignty of the people, in form of a republic, to overcome the old systems and regimes. In this sense Egypt also can t be separated anymore (is indivisible…). At the same time they define the country as a Arabic republic, so Egypt is defined as a part of the Arabic nation, to be united as a whole as the old dream of the Muslims. So in the first article the people try to finally define their country and like that define themselves as the Egyptian people. This is difficult because there are so many gaps between their dreams and wishes for the future of their country. So they orientate in the first place at the maybe most stable point, the geography, and then to find their values in the Muslim world just as in history of human civilization.


  15. Maria D'Ercole says:

    The world moves fast. Legal texts not as fast. Often, people consider texts as sacred and untouchable. Everyone however must adapt to change. The Church is doing it on, for example, gay marriage and abortion; it is opening its arms on discussion. Why a legal text cannot also adapt? The unification of Italy occurred in 1871. Things have changed since then. One must consider reviewing. In Italy, for example, they say that the Constitution gives too much power to the Senate. Hence, currently a referendum would like to abolish such powers to render the system more fluid and direct. As the world runs, as must the government of a country to adapt quickly to the changes that are taking place. There are doubts on both sides. One side says said the constitution is like this for a reason and should not change. The other side says the constitution must evolve and so must the mentality of a country. In synthesis, legal texts are not becoming more complicated. The world we live in is changing the rules of the game. Thus, the legal texts we were based on are not in line with nowadays requirements anymore. That is the true complication.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s