Whose law must we obey? And how can we tell?

ICL Lunch with visting researcher Ken Gallant, presenting a working paper for presentation at the University of Utrecht in order to receive comments and feedback.

As we go about our business in the Netherlands—or wherever we happen to be—we must sometimes conform our conduct to the criminal laws of other countries. Those of us who are away from our country of citizenship must usual comply with some or all of its laws. Those of us who are sending objects or information to other nations or otherwise causing results there may have to comply with the criminal laws of those countries. In the internet age, that could be anywhere—sometimes, everywhere. And there are other situations in which, under international law, other countries may legislate to prohibit or control the conduct of each of us.

This talk will sketch out the situations in which we must obey the criminal laws of other countries—that is, where other countries have legislative jurisdiction as to criminal law over us or our acts. In a few of these situations, under current law, we may not be able to tell which countries these will be at the time we act. This is a major theoretical problem for the rule of law and the principle of legality, as well as a practical problem for those of us who have transborder business and personal affairs.

The talk will then address potential solutions to this theoretical and practical problem. It will begin with solutions which would fully implement the notice and certainty prongs of the principle of legality—that all persons should be able to learn what laws will apply to them at the time they act and that the demands of those laws will be clear. These solutions, unfortunately, appear politically unattainable in the near future. It will therefore conclude with a discussion of a variety of legal devices which can substantially advance the place and practice of notice and clarity in the system of transnational criminal jurisdiction and substantive Law.



Pluricourts holds a monthly international criminal law (ICL) lunch, where an invited ICL expert gives a presentation on a topic of their choice, followed by questions from the audience. The aim is to provide a wide-ranging lecture series, giving varied insights into what is happening within the field of ICL today. We invite speakers from different backgrounds, and have had presentations from Norwegian- based and international academics, as well as speakers from local agencies who work with ICL-related issues, such as Kripos and the Norwegian Red Cross. The lunches also function as a meeting point for those who are interested in ICL, allowing for ideas to be exchanged and developed. They are open to the public, and are attended by staff, students and those working in ICL in the Oslo area.


Tags: Criminal law
Published Mar. 29, 2017 9:47 AM - Last modified Mar. 30, 2017 10:28 AM