vrijdag, oktober 22, 2004

The Ph f***ing D

So, I started this blog a while ago and never really got round to finishing it. I thought, why not today, especially since my e-mail at work is down and I'm a little bit handicapped. Anyway, I moved over to The Netherlands in September 2001 to begin working on a PhD at the univeristy. The PhD system in The Netherlands is different to the majority of other countries in that PhD candidates here are not students. We are fully fledged employees of the university with a slaary, benefits and tax burdens (that's the bit I don't like!). Anyway, that also means that you have a contract and have an obligation to finish your PhD within 4 years. Although in theory that's the rule, there are 16,000 ways in which the time can be extended, especially if you have done other things during your PhD track which have meant that you were unable to work 100% on your PhD (things like teaching etc).

Anyway, I've now been working on my PhD for about 3 years and my contract is due to run out in September 2005. So this is a stressful time for me, trying to get the whole thing down on paper. Unlike many exact sciences, legal PhDs require a different sort of writing up procedure. Although we are encouraged to publish articles during our PhD candidancy, we do not simply use those articles to then form the basis of our PhD. This means that the last year of the Phd track is devoted to writing up, the first years years being devote dinstead to the research.

So what's my Phd about? Most people think of PhDs as dry and boring and having no impact on reality. Well that couldn't be any further from the truth for my PhD. I deal with the international aspects of non-marital registered relationships in Europe. Ummmm.... I hear you say, what's that? Well, since 1989, a number of European countries (and more recently other countries as well) have begun to introduce forms of partnership registration (e.g. registered partnership, civil partnership, domestic partnership, civil union, PACS, statutory cohabitation, same-sex marriages etc etc). Anyway, although 12 European countries have done so, the regulatiosn dealing with the international recognition of these partnerships is not as extensive, and that's what I do. I compare the rules and regulations in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, in trying to see whether there is any possibility for harmonising these rules.

The PhD itself is divided into two sections: one on the substantive law rules (i.e. how do you register a partnership in each of these countries) and the second part deals with the private international law rules (i.e. how are these relationships recognised, which law applies to the effects of the relationship and what law applies to the dissolution thereof). I'm getting there with it, but sometimes it's very confusing and having so many countries and so much literature is really mindboggling sometimes, trying to keep all the different autors and countries, laws an regulations, books and articles sepearate in my head. Anyway, the idea is to try and submit the manuscript by about August next year, so until then, it's back to the books!!!