When something goes wrong, or is at risk of going wrong, questions arise as to who is responsible, who can be held accountable and who is liable. Such questions may concern the accountability and liability of an individual or a group of individuals, but also of corporations, governments or other state actors and (international) institutions. Depending on the facts and the actors involved, responsibility, accountability or liability arises from private law (e.g., when a wrongful act is committed, or a contract is breached), criminal law (e.g., when a crime is committed), administrative law (e.g., when governmental decisions are being challenged), international law (e.g., when human rights are breached), or a cumulation of any of these frameworks.
UCALL explores the foundations of accountability and liability law, and inquires how law allocates responsibility, accountability and liability, across different legal fields. Our research is guided by the overarching question: what is the broader societal purpose, domestically and internationally, of allocating responsibilities and liability through law? Against the backdrop of emerging social, technological and legal challenges to existing laws (such as individualization, digitalization, Europeanization, globalization and climate change), UCALL examines what can and cannot be achieved by accountability and liability law, what the boundaries and limitations of liability law are, or should be, and what the opportunities are for further legal development.
In particular, UCALL is interested in how accountability and liability law can contribute to societal needs for redress, prevention and compensation, how it can help to establish, clarify and confirm (legal) norms, and how it can affect the (future) behaviour of societal actors and institutions.
To answer these questions, UCALL aspires to go beyond doctrinal legal research: we advocate a multidimensional and interdisciplinary research approach that addresses the relevant societal and academic context of accountability and liability issues. We often collaborate with researchers from other academic disciplines, and build on expertise gained in our research to contribute to topical debates and developments.
Below you find several specific areas in which UCALL conducts research, that illustrate our research approach, the type of questions we ask and the core principles we apply.