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CORe - Centre for Government and Law

Constitutional law unit

CORe - Centre for Government and Law

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Daan Bijnens

Daan Bijnens obtained his master's degree in Law, specializing in Government and Law, at Hasselt University in 2014. Since September 2014, he has been an academic assistant in Public Law at Hasselt University where he is also writing his PhD in Constitutional Law. His research expertise and fields of interest cover Public Law in general and Constitutional Law in particular. His teaching assignments are also situated in Public Law. He teaches courses, like ‘Constitutional Law’ and ‘Legal Protection against Government Action’, and coaches Hasselt University students in the Belgian Constitutional Law Moot Court.

Doctoral research:
'The exchange of constitutional competences in a supranational context'

The principle of legality guarantees the right of citizens to be ruled by a democratically elected body in a certain matter. As a matter of fact, it is part of the division of powers between the legislator and the administrative entities and can be considered one of the cornerstones of the Belgian Constitution. The so-called ‘exchange of competencies’ refers, on one hand, to the possibility of the legislative branch to delegate legislative competences to the executive branch (legislative delegation). On the other hand, the legislature has on several occasions made use of its primary role in the Belgian constitutional order by regulating matters with a clear administrative character through legislation. The outsourcing of legislative tasks (push) and the democratization of administrative decisions (pull) could give rise to an erosion of several constitutional guarantees. These ‘push & pull’ dynamics have been influenced in both directions by the supranational legal order, developed inter alia in the context of the European Union. In its jurisprudence, the Belgian Constitutional Court has tried to reconcile the need for a flexible division of powers with traditional values and principles, which the initial fragile delimitation of these constitutional competences tried to guarantee by allowing these techniques only when certain conditions are met. Nevertheless, the Court seems to interpret its own conditions as less stringent when supranational norms are at play. The main research question endeavors to outline in what sense the (potential) reallocation of powers meets the requirements of the initial protection mechanisms in the Belgian Constitution. If the European legislature proves to be a decent substitute for the national legislature, one may ask which role the national democratic elected body still has to fulfill in the contemporary legal order.

Supervisor: Prof. Jan Theunis, Hasselt University
Starting date: 1 September 2014

Marie DeCock
Marie DeCock obtained her master's degree in Law at Ghent University in 2017. Since January 2018, she has been a PhD student in the Faculty of Law at Hasselt University. She is working on a dissertation on inter-municipal cooperation and the legal qualification of inter-municipal associations. In addition, she co-supervises the Constitutional Law Moot Court. Marie is also affiliated as a research assistant to the department of European, Public and International law at Ghent University.

Doctoral research:
'The Janus face of inter-municipal cooperation: Caught between public and private, between government and corporation'

Over the last decades, there has been a trend to transfer tasks to local governments. Given the growing role of the principle of subsidiarity, the local level is considered to be the most suitable to fulfill certain tasks. At the same time, there is also a trend towards more cooperation in the public sector between 1) public partners and 2) public and private partners. To be able to execute their tasks more effectively, in order to create economies of scale, and to be capable of dealing with municipal cross-border problems, municipalities tend to use inter-municipal cooperation as an efficient solution to improve the effectiveness of local public service delivery. In the use of inter-municipal cooperation, there is often a conflict between private law aspects – for example the participation of market participants and thus 'private law'-oriented entities to the inter-municipal association – and public law elements – such as the required local democracy in inter-municipal associations. This research focuses on the underlying tensions between public and private law. Is an inter-municipal association a government or a corporation?

In the search for an answer to the question of how inter-municipal associations can be legally qualified and which legal form they should adopt, an attempt is made to reconcile public and private as best as possible. To this end, the research analyzes European regulations on Competition Law and Procurement Law, the impact of the European Union on the decision to set up, use and regulate an inter-municipal association, and comparative law research on various member states of the European Union.

Supervisor: Prof. Steven Van Garsse, Hasselt University
Starting date: 16 January 2018

Dennis Fransen
Dennis Fransen is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law and specializes in Constitutional and Administrative law. In his dissertation, he researches avenues towards a general administrative law code in Belgium. He obtained his master's degree in Law at UHasselt in July 2017 (specialization Government and Law).

Doctoral research:
'Towards a general administrative law code for Belgium? A legal research from the perspective of the division of powers'

Unlike our neighboring countries (the Netherlands, Germany, France, ...), the Belgian administrative landscape does not have a specific code that regulates the relationship between citizens and the government in a general way, despite attempts at the federal (2000/2003) and the Flemish level (2018). Together with the ad hoc approach in the past, the creation of such a code is made considerably more difficult by the fact that Belgian administrative law is spread over the different levels of government as a patchwork. A clearly defined division of powers with regard to administrative law is lacking at the moment although research on this point is essential for the establishment of general administrative regulations. In his research, Dennis Fransen focuses on the impact of the division of competences on the possibilities to create such regulations within the Belgian federal system. In addition to a detailed study of the division of powers within Belgian Administrative Law, this research studies the instrument of general regulation, also from a Comparative Law perspective. With a focus on the establishment of a coherent set of legislation in the Administrative Law field, recommendations will also be made regarding a future division of competences for Belgian Administrative Law. The higher objective of this research is therefore to improve legal certainty for citizens and government.

Supervisor: Prof. Steven Van Garsse, Hasselt University
Co-supervisor: Prof. Jan Theunis, Hasselt University
Starting date: 1 October 2017

Heidi Bortels
'Legality principle, Belgian Constitutional Court, and administration of justice'

Heidi Bortels graduated in 2009 with a master’s in Law at KU Leuven. She started her professional career at the Brussels Bar where she focused on Public Law in a broad sense. On 1 January 2015, she was appointed law clerk at the Belgian Constitutional Court. Since 1 October 2015, she has combined her job at the Constitutional Court with a mandate as a teaching assistant at Hasselt University for the courses 'Constitutional law' and 'Advanced Constitutional Law'.

Dominique De Meyst 
Dominique De Meyst obtained her law degree from Ghent University (2012), as well as a teacher's degree. During her studies, she interned at the Belgian Constitutional Court and was an exchange student at Auckland University, New Zealand where she researched the country's unwritten constitution. She worked as an assistant in Constitutional Law at Ghent University and was admitted to the bar of Brussels after a three-year traineeship as an associate lawyer at Simont Braun. She now works as a legal officer at Unia, the Belgian interfederal centre for equal opportunities, where she specializes in discrimination in employment. Since 2016, she has been a part of the Centre for Government and Law at Hasselt University where she is a tutor in Constitutional Law for bachelor’s and master’s students. In her work with students and victims of discrimination, she particularly values and spreads awareness about the importance of clear legal language.

Tim Greven
Tim Greven studied Law at the University of Antwerp (graduated in 2002) and KULeuven (graduated in 2005). He was a legal advisor and debt broker for 10 years in a partnership of OCMW’s in Limburg and a teacher at the ‘Vlaams Centrum Schuldenlast’ (now 'Sam vzw'). He worked for Deputy Minister Elke Sleurs as a Policy Advisor on Poverty Reduction and Urban Policy. Today, in addition to being a teaching assistant at UHasselt, he also works at the UCLL in Leuven as a lecturer-researcher.

Stijn Maeyaert
Stijn Maeyaert holds a law degree from Ghent University (UGent 2013). He is a mediator in public affairs (KU Leuven 2016) and studied business administration at the EHSAL Management School. Stijn joined the Regulatory Practice Group of the Brussels law firm Liedekerke in 2013. He handles cases involving all aspects of public law with a particular interest in public procurement law and general environmental law. Stijn regularly advises and is familiar with procedures brought before various administrative and public institutions, the Council of State, and the civil courts. Since 2014, he has been a part-time affiliate with the Faculty of Law of Hasselt University where he teaches tutorials on constitutional law.

Karel-Jan Vandormael
Karel-Jan Vandormael is a teaching assistant at Hasselt University and the head of ‘Paralegal studies’ at University College PXL. He is also a lawyer at the bar of Limburg and affiliated with KU Leuven. He is also a member of the board of editors for the journals Limburgs Rechtsleven and RABG. His doctoral thesis examines the legal rules on government guarantees. Karel-Jan’s research interests are located at the intersection of contract and commercial law and constitutional and administrative law. His publications can be found here. His posts on the Corporate Finance Lab can be found here.