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DPhil student publishes a research monograph on legal responsibility

Thursday, 18 January 2018

St Edmund Hall student Vaclav Janecek (2017, DPhil in Law) has recently published a research monograph entitled 'Critique of Legal Responsibility'. The book is a result of Vaclav’s ongoing interest in comparative doctrinal legal research and comparative legal philosophy.

Vaclav Janecek came to Oxford from Charles University in Prague where he studied law and philosophy and completed his first PhD in Theory, Philosophy and Sociology of Law. "During my Prague doctoral studies, I was constantly puzzled by how different our understanding of such a basic concept as legal responsibility is across European jurisdictions," he says. This was also one of the main motives for his research on this book, which was funded by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic.

The cover of Vaclav's book

"The starting point of this project was very simple," he explains. "Slavic languages are generally unable to differentiate between responsibility and liability. Where English or German use responsibility/Verantwortung and liability/Haftung, Slavic languages capture both meanings by only one expression. If you mix this with the historical fact of how legal thinking evolved during the Cold War period, it gives you quite interesting results. So, I decided to conduct research at multiple institutions across Europe, namely Charles University in Prague, Max-Planck Institute in Hamburg, Institute for European Tort Law in Vienna, European University Institute in Fiesole, and, of course, Oxford, to gather evidence and analyse the distinct models of thought regarding legal responsibility." The book combines the methods of historical, doctrinal, and philosophical comparative legal analysis to unveil how these models have developed and compares them from the Czech perspective. The publication itself is written in Czech and contains a 2,500 words English summary.

By critically looking at the concept of legal responsibility in common law, Germanic and socialist legal traditions it addresses a specific problem of the post-socialist (namely Czech) philosophy of private law which, as far as responsibility is concerned, is still rooted in the materialist legal philosophy as it was advocated by the theorists of the so-called Eastern bloc. One of the main aims of the book is to re-establish and facilitate intellectual debate between the Czech and West-European legal scholars. An official launch of this book will take place later this year.

The author Vaclav is a doctoral student in the Oxford Law Faculty and a Pontigny Scholar at St Edmund Hall. At the same time, he works as a researcher in digital ethics at the Oxford Internet Institute and also conducts additional research with members of the Department of Legal Theory at Charles University in Prague. Currently, he explores issues concerning ownership of personal data in the Internet of Things.

Congratulations to Vaclav on this publication achievement!