200 Years Savigny and Thibaut: The Codification Debate Revisited (MEPLI Round Table, 10 October 2014)



2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the famous debate between Von Savigny and Thibaut about the need for and feasibility of private law codification. This debate has made a lasting contribution to our thinking about the sources of private law and still shapes present-day discussions about European private law. Thibault gave three main reasons in favour of codification: to facilitate the market by way of unification of law, to promote the transparency of the legal material, and to adjust the law to the ‘modern times.’ All three motives seem to have a universal value: they were not only relevant in 19th century Germany, but still shape today’s private law in whichever part of the world – just as Von Savigny’s rebuttal of these arguments seems just as relevant today as it was then.

This Round Table revisits the Savigny-Thibaut controversy and links it to current views about how the legal materials are best organised. The main issues that were on the table 200 years ago will be discussed by legal historians, experts in modern law and colleagues in related areas. In each of the four sessions, both a historical and a modern perspective will be provided.

The Round Table is organised by the Maastricht European Private Law Institute (MEPLI) at Maastricht University in cooperation with the Molengraaff Institute of Private Law at Utrecht University.

More information on the location of the Round Table as well as the registration procedure will follow soon.





Jan Smits (Maastricht) & Michael Milo (Utrecht)



Law as an elite project: on the Volksgeist and beyond

Benjamin Lahusen (Rostock)

Marc Hertogh (Groningen)



Transparency and certainty of the law

Nils Jansen (Münster), Non-legislative codifications and legal argument

Jan Smits (Maastricht), Towards an alternative way of presenting legal materials






Law and the market

Dave De Ruysscher (VUB)

Joost Jonker (UvA/UU)







Dirk Heirbaut (Gent) – Scholars, textbooks and codification: on Savigny, Laurent and Meijers

Matthias Storme (Leuven) – Codification today: a useful instrument?



Beyond Europe

Agustin Parise (Maastricht), Savigny and Thibaut in the Americas: finding parallels




Michael Milo (Utrecht)




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