International Conference on Public Policy, Good Morals and Social Justice in European Private Law, 26-27 October 2012
On Friday 26th and Saturday 27th October 2012, an international conference on ‘Public Policy, Good Morals and Social Justice in European Private Law’ took place at Het Kasteel in Groningen. The event was organised by the Groningen Centre for Law and Governance (GCL) and the Endowed Chair Law and Governance, Prof Aurelia Colombi Ciacchi.
Some of the worlds leading experts in European private law delivered papers. It was the first conference of the new research programme "Public Interests and Private Relationships" (PIPR) of the Groningen Law Faculty, and of the new focus group "Public Policy and Private Autonomy" within the Netherlands Institute for Law and Governance (NILG). The participants came from all over Europe.
Introductory and welcoming remarks were given by Prof Leon Verstappen and Prof Colombi Ciacchi, the Academic Directors of the GCL. The opening session was dedicated to public policy, good morals and social justice in contract law. Prof Salvatore Patti (University of Rome I "La Sapienza") started the discussions, addressing interpretations of the general clauses ‘public policy’ and ‘good morals’ in European contract law. This was followed by Prof Ruth Sefton-Green (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) who examined if such concepts lead to the attainment of social justice in French contract law. Prof Hugh Collins (London School of Economics) then presented his findings on EU contract law as a vehicle to address labour exploitation. His paper focused on the quality of goods and compliance with labour standards.
The second session dealt with public policy, good morals and public-private governance in contract law. Dr Spelča Mežnar (International School for Social and Business Studies, Slovenia) opened the session, discussing limits to party autonomy and public policy in Slovenian Contract Law. Prof Lorenz Kähler (University of Bremen) then addressed contract interpretation as an alternative to public policy exceptions. Next Prof Olha Cherednychenko (University of Groningen) examined the interaction between general contract law, public regulation and the protection
of the vulnerable in financial transactions.
Prof Tibor Tajti (Central European University, Budapest) then delivered a speech on public versus private governance in contract law regarding private debt collection in Europe.
The third session of the day focused on public policy, global governance and social justice in international private law. Prof Mathijs ten Wolde (University of Groningen) started proceedings by giving an account of principles and methodologies in examining public policy and private international law. Prof Davor Babic (University of Zagreb) then spoke about the theoretical underpinnings of the rules on ordre public interne in European Private International Law. Prof Nikitas Hatzimihail (University of Cyprus) spoke on private international law and arbitration in a comparative perspective. Dr Jacobien Rutgers (VU University Amsterdam) looked at national public policy regarding medical liability in light of the EU Directive on patients’ rights. The session was then completed by Prof Brigitta Lurger (University of Graz), who discussed the notion of justice in EU International family law.
The last session of the first day was dedicated to presentations focusing on public policy and good morals against the private autonomy of individuals in selected fields of law and regulation. Prof Teresa Rodriguez (University Carlos III of Madrid) spoke on the refusal to deal, abuse of rights and competition law in electronic markets. Karlis Svikis, LL.M. (Bnt attorneys-at-law) analysed the impact of European energy law on private law. This was followed by the conference dinner which took place at ‘t Feithhuis.
The second day of the conference began with a session on national developments and was opened by Prof Eugenia Dacoronia (Athens University). She focused on the role of good morals in Greek private law and explained how the concept of good morals is given special importance by the Greek legislator in the law of obligations and the law of torts. Prof Julija Kiršiene (Vytautas Magnus University) and Vygantas Malinauskas, LL.M. examined how contemporary legal practice in Lithuania reflects different notions of good morals and public policy. Prof Florin Ciutacu (Christian University Bucharest) followed this by discussing good morals and public policy in the new Romanian Civil Code. Prof David Zammit (University of Malta) presented his findings in relation to the role of public policy in Malta, a mixed jurisdiction
Zeeshan Mansoor, LL.M. (University of Groningen) spoke on contracts contrary to public policy in English law. He explained how a ‘law and governance’ methodology could better clarify the decision making process in cases involving the public policy doctrine. The last presentation in this session was made by Dr Patrick O’Callaghan (Newcastle University). He critically examined the effect of Human Rights Act on English private law by focusing on civil liability for invasion of privacy.
The last session of the conference was dedicated to the role of public policy in ‘Europe-Building’. Dr Chantal Mak (University of Amsterdam) began this session by deliberating on the extent to which private law can and should contribute to the shaping of a European ‘common good.’ Adam McCann, LL.M. (University of Groningen) critically examined the interaction between EU free movement provisions and national public goods in the attainment of social justice.
Prof Colombi Ciacchi delivered the closing address and expressed her gratitude to all the speakers and participants, all of whom contributed greatly to the success of the conference. The participants then enjoyed a lunch at the Groningen museum, which was followed by a guided tour .
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