Ius Commune ‘Foundations’ Research Course – Live blogging (2)

It’s 14:15 and we just returned from lunch, and are getting straight back into a tougher bite: legal history and the Ius Commune. The presentation is given by Prof. Dr. C.H. van Rhee, Foundations of Law and Method and Chair of European Legal History. He asks us straight away: ‘What makes law a scholarly activity‘. Again a question that transcends the difference between private and public law, and is thus relevant for all participants and indeed everyone who is active in the field of law research. In the opinion of Prof. van Rhee the main aim is legal certainty. We want to make sure that similar cases are decided in the same manner. Legal mathematics in a way.

If similar cases were to be decided in different manners depending who is the judge, there would be no legal certainty. This makes me think whether a parallel might be drawn to the discussions in European Private Law. With different rules leading to diverging outcomes, by the mere fact of one crossing a border and therefore having a different legal system be applicable, legal certainty on the European playing field seems problematic. If we all are looking for legal certainty and coherence, then perhaps European Private Law has a long way to go still.

Interestingly enough, striving for ‘coherence’ -which in my relatively unexperienced ears sounds a lot like a plea for harmonization or perhaps even unification- is somewhat different from what the law & economics professor Faure (also a MEPLI-fellow) told us yesterday. He reminded us that ‘diversity can be wonderful’. Whatever your own opinion is regarding the desirability of divergence of legal systems, I believe there is one thing we can all agree on: diverging opinions make for an interesting debate.

 

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