Academic journal article Nottingham Law Journal

The Owlets of Minerva

Academic journal article Nottingham Law Journal

The Owlets of Minerva

Article excerpt

The Owlets of Minerva

By BOSTJAN ZUPANCIC The Hague, Eleven International Publishing 2012 552pp

Hardback, 81.50, [euro] 978-94-90997-34-7

The Owlets of Minerva were hatched by The Owl of Minerva. The latter is a series of essays on aspects of human rights in the context of criminal procedure and criminal law. It is extremely learned and draws eclectically on a range of theorists more often found on the philosopher's or sociologist's bookshelf than the lawyer's. As Jonathan Doak commented in his review (1) it reflects the author's academic, rather than his judicial, experience and interests. What we have in the Owlets is the judicial opinion of Judge Zupancic to compare and contrast to the academic view of Professor Zupancic (to adopt the apposition of Judge Sajo in his Preface).

The Owlets principally consists of extracts from 49 decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. The basis for selection is that each has a separate opinion of Judge Zupancic. This may be sole or joint, concurring, dissenting or mixed. In two of the cases Judge Zupancic sat ex officio as the Slovenian judge, but the others represent the relatively chance allocation of cases through the ordinary procedure of the Court. Each extract provides enough of the factual and legal background, and of the main judgment of the Court, to place the opinion in context. The organisation is by ECHR Article, so some of the cases cover issues significantly outside the purview of the Owl.

The author in his Foreword and Judge Sajo in the Preface do discuss some of the leading themes which preoccupy both the Judge and the Professor, including issues of relevance, proof, distinguishing law and fact and the nature of (judicial) truth. However, the reader is then left to navigate the cases with little general commentary and explication, although there are a number of substantive footnotes expanding on and elucidating specific words and phrases in the opinion. This means that, particularly where it is not possible to cross-refer to the Owl, the reader gets little help in understanding the train of Judge Zupancic's thought. …

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