Registration open for ‘200 Years Savigny and Thibaut: The Codification Debate Revisited’ (MEPLI Round Table, 10 October 2014)


We already wrote about the next Round Table that MEPLI will host in Maastricht on 10 October.

Registration is now open via this link, where you can also find more information about the location as well as the programme of the event.



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Fear and Loathing in Asia: Grappling with Withdrawal Rights


photo (41)Something happened to me over the summer and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. It all started when I was given the opportunity to present at the East China University of Political Science and Law (“ECUPL”) alongside fellowMEPLIers, Jan Smits, William Bull, Jiangqiu Ge, Catalina Goanta and Willem Loof. The topic of my short (and relatively mundane) talk was regarding consumer protection and withdrawal rights in the EU vis-à-vis China’s newly amended Consumer Protection Code [中华人民共和国消费者权益保护法].[1]

After highlighting some germane aspects of the EU’s Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU), I gave my usual spiel about how “consumers are not weak and through collaborative consumer protection, they can protect themselves”. For this talk, I added a bit about how “mandatory withdrawal rights reduce party autonomy and the opportunity for consumers to haggle for a cheaper price, thus reducing the parties’ freedom to contract.”[2] Essentially, I (along with my Chinese counterpart Dr. Wenjie Zhao) advocated for keeping general withdrawal rights optional rather than mandatory (as is the case in the EU and China for most online purchases). My argument sounded reasonable enough at the time (if I may say so myself), but after the conference, while visiting Japan, I started to question some of the things that I had said during the conference and here is why…


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‘Setting the contract aside’ – Shanghai, 22 August (brief review)


A rather numerous MEPLI delegation attended the workshop “Setting the Contract Aside: Comparative Perspectives”, taking place at the East China University of Politics and Law on Friday 22 August. The workshop focused on mapping the different remedies that are available in contracts challenged by defects of consent in various jurisdictions, both European and Chinese, and it was designed to encourage comparative discussions.

The list of presentations: Xuxu He – Avoidance for mistake and misrepresentation; Catalina Goanta – Unfair contract terms in European private law; Jiangqiu Ge – Undue influence in China; William Bull – Undue influence in European law; Keke Jin – Legal Capacity in Chinese law; Jan Smits – Avoidance for legal incapacity; Wenjie Zhao – The right of withdrawal and its problems in China; Mark Kawakami – On withdrawal rights; Willem Loof – The termination paradox. Some interesting points drawn from the discussions: the proximity of Chinese private law to German law leading to similarities with European jurisdictions; the question of whether mandatory consumer rights are necessary in Europe and China; the English underpinnings of some Chinese defects of consent (e.g. misrepresentation, undue influence, etc.).

The conclusion, in the words of Jan Smits: “Perhaps we have more in common than we thought – the Chinese and the European approaches seem to be very similar.”

More photos from the event are available on MEPLI’s Facebook page.

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Setting the Contract Aside: Comparative Perspectives – Shanghai, 22 August 2014


Setting the Contract Aside: Comparative Perspectives

The aim of this workshop is to take stock of the different ways in which a contract can be set aside. Different legal doctrines exist to help a ‘disappointed’ party. These doctrines range from the age-old mistake and misrepresentation and incapacity to newer techniques such as avoidance for undue influence and withdrawal rights. The topic has regained importance as a result of the recent enactment of the new Chinese Consumer Code (in China) and the consolidation of consumer rights in the new Consumer rights directive (in Europe). On the background is the lingering tension between contractual autonomy and protection of a supposedly weaker party. At this one-day workshop, colleagues from both China and Europe will discuss present developments. Each session consists of 20 minutes per speaker, followed by 20 minutes of discussion.

The workshop is organised by the Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI) in cooperation with East China University of Politics and Law (ECUPL).

(Shanghai, Friday 22 August 2014; No. 4 Conference Room, Jiaoyi Building; No. 1575, Wanhangdu Road, East China University of Politics and Law)

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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.

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Thoughts on the Euro-Mortgage project in the 21st Century (Conference Buying and Owning Property in Europe – Trier 16 and 17 June 2014)

On Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 I participated in the ERA conference on Buying and Owning Property in Europe in Trier. I spoke there on the next steps to take and the possibility of reintroducing the idea of a Euro-Mortgage.

Since 1966, when the Segré Commission reported on the Development of a European Capital Market and introduced the idea of a pan-European right of hypothec, now known as Euro-Hypothec or Euro-Mortgage, especially the academic world has been intrigued by this idea. In a single market, it would be very helpful if EU citizens, who all have the right to establish themselves throughout that single market, would be able to make use of a common European immovable property security right to assist the financing of acquisition of property.

In reality, Eurostat statistics show, there is an increasing number of EU citizens that reside in another country (about 2,5% of EU citizens), and even more citizens that own immovable property in other Member States (no statistics are available on this at the EU level as some Member States do not gather this data). In fact, banks frequently finance the acquisition of land in other Member States. There are generally four scenario’s for such an acquisition:

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