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On 30 September, ACT hosted the first book symposium dedicated to Professor Martijn Hesselink’s book Justifying contract in Europe: political philosophies in European contract law (Oxford University Press: 2021), that was published earlier this summer. It was the first live (hybrid) event organised by ACT in a long time, and it was obvious that everyone – after such a long time of tiresome video conferencing – was thrilled to see each other in real live and discuss the book in person. On moments like these, the added value of physical presence seems undeniable for meaningful scholarly exchange.

The book proves a great and timely contribution to the scholarship on European contract law, which, after the failure of the of European civil code project, seems no longer able to dream, and appears to have reverted to the relatively safe waters of acquis positivism and law and economics (market reductionism). The book offers a detailed and critical discussion of certain fundamental questions of European contract law, and explores this from contemporary leading political philosophies. What results is a rich picture of the different normative approaches and perspectives, and the consequent implications for (re)framing the questions of European contract law, that allows the reader not only to better reflect on, and articulate its own stance in the debate, but more importantly, opens up democratic space for reimaging alternative futures for European contract law.

In an impressive and diverse line-up of speakers, many aspects and details of the book were discussed during the symposium. In the first panel, Iris van Domselaar, Laura Burgers, Christana Eckes, and Ivana Isailovic each shed light on the book from their own perspective. In the second panel, Jeroen Kortman, Candida Leone, Aukje van Hoek, and Gareth Davies expressed their own ideas and criticisms on certain aspects of the book. The panels were followed by a Q&A, engaging the audience as well. What resulted was a lively and fruitful debate on the book, which compelled each participant to think further about their position in the debate on European contract law and (normative) political philosophy.

Photos: Rafal Manko
Photos: Rafal Manko
Mr. dr. drs. I. (Iris) van Domselaar

Faculty of Law

Dep. Jurisprudence

Mr. dr. L.E. (Laura) Burgers

Faculty of Law

Dep. Private Law

Prof. dr. C. (Christina) Eckes

Faculty of Law

European Public Law

Dr. I. (Ivana) Isailovic

Faculty of Law

European Public Law

Dr C. (Candida) Leone

Faculty of Law

Dep. Private Law

Prof. dr. A.A.H. (Aukje) van Hoek

Faculty of Law

Dep. Private Law