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Abuse of Legal Persons

Nékám A (1938) The concept of the personality of the legal person. Harvard University Press, Cambridge “The more autonomous robots are, the less they can be seen as mere tools in the hands of other actors (such as manufacturers, owners, users, etc.); . This, in turn, raises the question of whether the general rules on liability are inadequate or whether new principles and rules are needed to clarify the legal liability of different actors with regard to liability for the actions and omissions of robots. Note 3 Solutions such as these do not exist in all cases. Legislators considering a legal entity must consider and guarantee the issue. The arbitrators in cayuga were explicitly asked to apply the principles of equity law, with the instrument of jurisdiction (a contract) establishing fairness under applicable law. Footnote 16 If justice or a similar principle is not part of the applicable law, a judge or arbitrator may not be able to “look behind the legal entity.” In such a situation, the “human individuals” who should be held responsible for the injuries do not remain in the picture. Scientists have been writing for several years about the possibility of assigning legal personality to robots, footnote 2, for example Asaro (2007); Koops et al. (2010) and Solaiman (2017).

So the idea is not new. However, it gained considerable importance after the European Parliament`s Legal Affairs Committee set up a working group on legal issues related to the development of robotics and artificial intelligence on 20 January 2015. On 27 January 2017, the committee tabled a motion for a European Parliament resolution on robotics and artificial intelligence. On the 16th. In February 2017, this application was adopted as the Civil Law Rules on Robotics. Thirdly, the legal personality of an actor, even if it implies that the actor has extensive rights and obligations, does not necessarily imply the actor`s effective involvement in the legal order. Although the actor may be the beneficiary of certain rules that give him rights or the addressee of other people who impose obligations on him, this does not in itself tell us what possibilities the legal system offers to this actor to exploit the rules, or other actors to hold him accountable for violations. That is, the rights and obligations that a legal person may legally have may not coincide with those that it actually has. Sometimes legal systems even confer ad hoc legal personality on individual legal entities.

This has been done, for example, with the Bank for International Settlements. In a case involving claims against the bank, an arbitral tribunal concluded that the international instruments that created and empowered the bank – under an agreement reached in 1930 by Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Switzerland – confirmed that the bank should be a unit under international law. The agreement was new, a corporation and apparently generally recognized as a person under international law. Some participants doubted that this was legally tenable, and so they set up a rather convoluted structure to give the bank Swiss legal status – even though Swiss law was expressly not the applicable law of the bank for its most important purposes. Footnote 7 The Bank was to be an international legal entity and the States participating in the Bank communicated their intention by adopting a treaty. Footnote 8 The bank`s personality has been confirmed by explicit statements in other international agreements (the Court also noted). Footnote 9 on the application of rights and obligations as legislator all sufficiently important moral rights and obligations, provided that the request is not a statement of applicable law. Nor does the motion for a resolution advocate a particular solution.

However, he calls on the European Commission to “study” the attribution of legal personality to robots as a possible solution. Citing the terms “electronic people” and “electronic personality,” this gives the idea higher visibility than ever before. The idea of legal personality and AI therefore deserves special attention at the moment.

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