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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: July 2010

1 - General introduction

from Part I - Mapping the legal landscape


‘Personality rights’ is not an obvious topic of comparative legal research. One may argue that the title of this volume reveals a typically continental European approach to the legal protection of personality interests. Is this terminological choice really compatible with the commitment of the Common Core project to a factual, bottom-up approach and with the requirement of equal treatment of different legal cultures, which should inspire every high-quality comparative law exercise? We maintain that it is for at least three reasons.

First of all, the rights-based approach in legal matters such as privacy and self-determination has become a truly common European feature through the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the established case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Community fundamental rights, which are already in force as general principles of EC law.

Secondly, legal history shows that the recognition of a ‘new’ human interest as a ‘right’ always requires a lengthy period of time and intense debates in every legal system. This is a recurring pattern in the history of personality protection in continental Europe, like in other parts of Europe and in the United States.

Thirdly, it is of great interest for comparative lawyers committed to the Common Core methodology to see how the same human interests which qualify as ‘rights’ in some legal systems are protected in the legal systems which do not recognise this qualification.