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Leon Verstappen awarded a royal decoration during anniversary conference

12 January 2024

Leon Verstappen (Meijel, 1965), Professor of Notary Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen, was surprised with a royal decoration in the category Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau on Friday 12 January. During the anniversary conference in the Akerk, which marked his 25th year of service, he was awarded the royal decoration by Koen Schuiling, Mayor of the Municipality of Groningen.

Leon Verstappen
Verstappen with the royal decoration.

When Leon Verstappen obtained his PhD at Radboud University in Nijmegen in 1989, his supervisor already knew that he was born to become a professor. That prediction was fulfilled in 1998, and it happened to be at the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen. From the very start of his academic career, Verstappen combined academia with practice. As such, he worked part-time as a junior civil law notary during his first employment as an assistant professor. He also stayed actively involved in practice after his appointment to the position of professor: he held various positions outside the University, including as deputy justice at the family division of the Court of Appeal in The Hague, and as a legal advisor.

A prominent academic

Verstappen’s academic work in the field of notary law holds great value both nationally and internationally. He is also regarded as a prominent academic in the fields of law relating to property subject to registration, matrimonial property law, and business law. He is gifted in conveying highly complex societal and legal issues in a logical, analytical, and comprehensible manner. Not only does he demonstrate this in his academic publications, but also in his frequent contributions to reports for the Research and Data Centre (WODC) and in his judicial solutions to societal problems. With over 300 academic and specialist publications, including 150 books and book contributions, he has left a major imprint on his field. He also contributed to various successful legislative proposals and was a co-founder of the Groningen Centre for Law and Governance and the Netherlands Institute for Law and Governance, among others.

Amicable, engaging dean

Within the Faculty, he made a name for himself as an amicable, engaging dean with strong ties to staff from all layers of the organization. Colleagues, students, and PhD students describe him as approachable and friendly, loyal and dedicated. He held deanship from 2006 to 2010, while remaining active in teaching and research. During that period, he sank his teeth into various complicated dossiers and extracted the maximum benefit for the Faculty. In addition, he put the degree programme in Notarial Law in Groningen on the map with great enthusiasm, thus ensuring its very high quality and its growth into one of the largest in the Netherlands.

Inspirer for students and PhD students

This warm engagement is also evident in his personal dedication to students and PhD students. For instance, he provides examination tutoring free of charge and is generous with connections from his own network. During his lectures, he often combines academic theory with examples from notarial practice. He also eagerly points to current political dossiers in legislation, so that students can keep the finger on the pulse of the field. He plays a valuable role within Vevonos, the study association for notarial students, and was appointed an honorary member in 2022 for his merits. His PhD students commend his inspiring way of instilling confidence and motivating young academics to develop further with his feedback and honest critique.

Societal involvement

The societal value of his extensive knowledge and commitment is evident, for example, in his involvement in the establishment of the international, innovative Land Portal Foundation. He has always been fiercely committed to this foundation, which makes information and data on land-related issues available worldwide by means of a sophisticated website, webinars, and other digital communications. As a source of information and knowledge, Land Portal substantially contributes to advancing the rights of vulnerable, landless groups.

Matrimonial property law

The same fighting spirit is also evident in his work on Dutch matrimonial property law. The legislative proposals that he was closely involved in led to the modernization of this law. For example, the general community property regime was abolished and replaced by a more appropriate system for married couples, which is also more consistent with other systems in Europe. He is also eager to share with the professional field recent developments in legislation, case law, and specialist literature. Whenever he recognizes that the stakes are high, he always makes time: if necessary, he consults online in the middle of the night, putting his heart into the legal matter.

Last modified:15 January 2024 08.41 a.m.
View this page in: Nederlands

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