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OnderzoekGroningen Centre for Law and GovernanceOnderzoeksprogramma's

User-friendly Private Law

Good societal governance means that the laws are practicable, that is to say: simple, fair, modern, effective and accessible. One might argue that if the laws do not meet these standards the principle of the rule of law becomes devoid of meaning.

The present research programme analyses private law from the perspective of the needs of those utilizing private law: judges, lawyers, businesses or consumers. This approach to private law has been informed by many and well known trends in present day society: such as instrumentalization, individualization & normative fragmentization, globalization & Europeanization. All of these trends have changed our perspective on laws in general and private law in particular. It has led to the demise of the idea of private law as a body of innerly consistent rules and has caused us to view private law as a facilitating tool in the hands of those utilizing it.  

Research questions & methodology

The two-fold general research question for this programme can be stated as follows:

  1. To what extent is Dutch and European private law practical for each of the actors that must deal with it (businesses, natural persons, lawyers, courts, and the government as policymaker)?  Of course, the meaning of the term ‘practical’ will also be investigated in this connection.
  2. Insofar as private law is not as practicable as it should be:
  • how can this be improved?
  • and who should ensure this (national or European courts or legislatures), or should this be achieved through some other means, such as self-regulation?

To encourage cooperation among the various participating sub-fields, the research programme has opted for a thematic design. The themes that will be further explored are:

  1. Communication: proper exchange of information e.g. notices of default and duties to furnish information under EU rules
  2. Modernization: digitalization and computerization e.g. new property law concepts, novel questions about pledges, mortgages and forced sales
  3. Effectuation of the law: the practicality of legal proceedings and legal work processes Legal principles: determining which principles to make the application of Dutch law more predictable for foreign companies who may opt for Dutch law.

Approach and methodology

In addressing these questions information derived from the following three sources will be used: comparative legal analysis, historical method, and information from Dutch legal practice (case law, parliamentary deliberations, reports and studies by consumer watchdogs, quantative data such as surveys, and interviews).

Profile of the programme

Societal relevance: lower costs for legal advice, avoidance of litigation

  1. Mono/multidisciplinary nature, use of foundations of the law
  2. International positioning:
  • The research can put forward solutions for the development of European private law.
  • The research may assist lawyers in countries with a comparable socioeconomic structure who are faced with the same problems.
  • The research may correct inaccurate assumptions about Dutch private law that might prevent parties to a contract to have the contract governed by Dutch law.
  • Fundraising.

Full text version of the User-friendly Private Law (UPL) research programme

Last modified:07 April 2015 2.48 p.m.