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About us Faculty of Law Research GCLG Research programmes

Public Interests and Private Relationships

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Programmaleiders Charlotte Pavillon, Mathijs ten Wolde en Aurelia Colombi Ciacchi

In the contemporary age of governance, the regulation of societal problems is almost always cross-cutting. It requires a mix of rules from multiple fields of law, such as private law, public law, EU law and other fields of (supra)national law. It also requires self-regulatory arrangements and modes of governance different from rule-making. This programme explores the regulation of relationships between private actors from the viewpoint of public interests.

Research question

This programme’s general research question is formulated as follows:

How should a certain type of private relationship be regulated, and the public and private interests involved therein be balanced, in order to realize good (multi-level) governance and sustainability?


In general terms, the programme will address three sub-questions:

How could vulnerable persons, vulnerable groups, the climate, the environment, and further sustainable development goals be best protected in the regulation of private relationships?

How could democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental/human rights be best safeguarded both in the legal regulation of private relationships and in non-state law, private self-regulation, privatized public services, and public-private (global) governance?

What justifies the application in a certain country of private (or semi-public) laws and governance arrangements of other countries?

Key areas

This research programme explores the four aforementioned research questions in six key areas:

  • Cross-Border Justice
  • Health
  • Family
  • Business and Labour
  • Property, Contracts and Socio-Economic Justice
  • Internet and the Digital Era

Research objectives and methods

Exploring the regulatory mix

The first objective of this programme consists of exploring the regulatory mix as regards private relationships or public sectors where private parties play an important role. Examples of those sectors are health care, housing, land ownership, finance, consumer contracts, and the digital economy.

Societal policies take the lead, legal rules follow

The programme’s second objective is to focus on societal problems and policies first, and consider legal rules only in relation thereto. Therefore, the national, supranational and comparative law and governance of private relationships (or public sectors where private parties play an important role) is analyzed in connection with societal policies.

Good governance and balancing of interests

Good governance requires a balancing of all public and private interests involved. The programme’s third objective is to focus on the balancing of interests needed in order to realize good governance and sustainability in the regulation of private relationships, or public sectors where private parties play an important role.

Interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, and law & policy research

This programme stimulates its participants to perform interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research, for example in connection with the four interdisciplinary Schools of our University.

This programme also fosters comparative legal research, possibly oriented towards comparative law & governance.

Within this programme there is also space for classic legal research, possibly oriented towards law & policy research, where the analysis of policy documents of public and private institutions plays a major role.

Relevant links


Prof. dr A. L. B. (Aurelia) Colombi Ciacchi

Prof. dr M. H. (Mathijs) ten Wolde

Prof. mr dr C. M. D. S. (Charlotte) Pavillon

Last modified:04 March 2024 4.31 p.m.