Case C-20/17 Oberle on the EU Succession Regulation – The rise of a true European property law?

On 21 June 2018 the CJEU took its third decision after the EU Succession Regulation entered into force on 17 August 2015. The EU Succession Regulation is a revolutionary piece of EU legislation with very far reaching effect on national law. Although many authors have tried, both during the process of negotiations and after its adoption and entry into force, to limit the effects, the effects turn out to be far reaching indeed. In short, the EU Succession Regulation allows for a single legal system to apply to an entire succession estate and introduces a European certificate of succession that can serve as evidence throughout the EU of the rights and obligations arising under that succession regime, which is to be issued by a single competent authority.

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Sustainability and private law? Let’s do it together – crowdsourcing ideas and materials

The biggest challenge of the 21st century is undoubtedly the question of how to tackle the effects of a rising population, expanding industrialisation and growing environmental degradation. Apart from an ever complex world, there are externalities that are the result of the way humankind has been treating its planet in the last centuries. The rules of private law play an instrumental role in this.

Two examples are freedom of ownership (including the substantive concept of ownership) and freedom of contract. These principles, which were born from a liberalist conception of freedom and individualism, have brought many of us incredible wealth and prosperity. However, at the same time, we have developed a system in which growing inequality shows us the negative side of these developments.

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Road traffic and other liability in Formula 1?

On Sunday morning 1 October, all of the Netherlands was behind their tv or internet connection to watch ‘our’ Max Verstappen win the Malaysian Grand Prix. Besides watching a very exciting race, I wondered about some of the accidents that happen between drivers on the track. I was especially intrigued with the incident between Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel.

If one formula one car hits another, and one of the parties is to blame, does that create liability to pay for the repairs of the other?

Of course, like in other sports, the standard of care that we assume between ‘players’ is different than in the ordinary course of life and business, but I am not speaking about bodily harm. The material damage to Vettel’s car, which was estimated by Dutch former formula 1 driver Robert Doornbos on Dutch TV of about half a million Euro, is now to be born by Ferrari?

The liability regime the applies to damage occurring, either by intentional act or by negligence, is traditionally covered by the place where the damage occurs (lex loci delicti). So Malaysian law applies to damage occurring during the Malaysian Grand Prix, etc. A quick google search reveals that there are special liability rules for the Singapore Grand Prix.

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The UK and European Private Law, what’s next?

In the past I have reported on this forum about a simulation that William Bull and I run with Maastricht European Law School Students called the Maastricht Project. In this project, which runs in our course on European Private Law (focusing on contract, property and a bit of tort), we divide students amongst Member State delegations, the European Commission, a presidency and a fictive institute of European Institutional Economics (with the specific aim to bring economic arguments forward). We then run a 7-week negotiation simulation with our students in which we simulate a Council of the EU working group. Students play the role of delegate members and debate a fictive proposal on EU private law, made by the European Commission delegation students. For this, students borrow from the CESL, DCFR and Digital Assets proposals of the European Commission.

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In memoriam Professor André (AJ) van der Walt (1956-2016)

prof-vd-walt-2014-200x300It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of André van der Walt, friend, role-model, and colleague. André was a world-class scholar and a renowned expert in constitutional property law. Early in his career he stayed in the Netherlands and obtained a PhD degree of Leiden university (under supervision of Robert Feenstra) in legal history.

During the time of the fall of the apartheid regime in his home country André developed a great interest in constitutional law, focusing on land reform and other property law aspects. In his work he brought together young and old(er) scholars to discuss matters of property law. His approach, he once described himself as that of a baboon looking under rocks to find what is under there, created a whole school of followers. In his time he supervised over 25 PhD researchers.

André first came to Maastricht in August 1995 to co-organise the conference Property on the threshold of the 21st century, together with Gerrit van Maanen, in which he brought together scholars from all over the world. He came back many times after that, always leaving us with interesting questions to answer and new ideas on research to explore. But most of all, André loved the company of young researchers. While enjoying the culinary tradition at whatever place he visited, he would discuss research ideas and set up further cooperation. An absolute highlight for many of us was his offer to host the Young Property Lawyers Forum of 2012, that brought young (and older) property lawyers to a spectacular conference to Stellenbosch in an ever more spectacular setting. André moved around as a godfather of us all. Many of us also enjoyed his and Christa’s hospitality at his wonderful Stellenbosch home.

André van der Walt was an invited fellow of MEPLI from its very beginning and some MEPLI fellows (Jan Smits, Sjef van Erp, Lars van Vliet and Bram Akkermans) were invited fellow to his South African Research Chair on Property Law.

André van der Walt leaves us with a gap that cannot be filled and with inspiration to pursue our research, to be brave and to enjoy very much what we are doing. Our deepest condolences and sympathy go out to Christa, his wife, his family and the remaining colleagues at the research chair as well as the Stellenbosch Law Faculty.

See also

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