Brexit and European Consumer Law: Now What?

On 24 June, a little over a week ago, the UK voted to leave the EU. This historical move has ignited a lot of feelings (including on our very own blog), and it has been analyzed continuously since its occurence. So far, the analysis has mainly focused on political (what policies have pushed/convinced voters to choose for this outcome and how that affects the unity of the European Union), the constitutional (devolution and Brexit), or the financial aspects (stock-market instability). Insecurity is bound to govern the upcoming period, as no one fully understands and/or is able to predict how this situation will play out. And as negotiations between the UK and the EU have not even started, it is difficult to speculate on even the general direction to be taken by the UK; with David Cameron stepping down, the British electorate dealing with segregation and confusion, the future of the relationship between the EU and the UK is left to our imagination.

But what does this actually mean for private law? In this brief contribution, I will try to make a case for how harmonized UK law already is, and how it has already been succesfully integrating European standards of consumer contract law into its national sphere. Given that legal convergence in this particular field has been the topic of my PhD thesis (Legal Convergence in Consumer Contract Law – A Comparative and Numerical Approach, forthcoming 2016), I will do so by referring to a measurement tool developed in my study: the Convergence Index. This Index has been built on the basis of earlier work on numerical comparative law by Mathias Siems, [1] as well as the OECD Manual on Composite Indicators.


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As an aggregate measurement tool, the Convergence Index is the sum of multiple individual indicators. The strength of coding such an index stems from the fact that it has the power to contribute to the country comparison and help illustrate a complex process like harmonization. The Convergence Index thus offers a model to measure and visualise the level of convergence.

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Article 50 TEU: starting the clock on Brexit

Oxford, 26 June 2016

I have lived and worked in the UK for four and a half years. During that time, I have sadly seen the country go from bad to worse. The closure of the Children’s Centres, which provide crucial support for young parents, and the utter unaffordability of housing – we’re talking £ 800,000 for a three bedroom terraced house with single glazing and poor heating and insulation in a country that isn’t exactly known for its mediterranean climate – were just two of several reasons why I have decided to move back to the Netherlands with my family this summer. The outcome of the EU referendum last Thursday was the final nail to the coffin. The referendum stands to harm the other Member States’ economies and political stability (to the extent we still had any left), but many of the reasons underlying the Leave voters’ choice are also personally hurtful to us EU migrants who have lived here for years, paid our taxes, spent our money in the British economy, speak perfect English and immensely enjoy our fish and chips, our full English breakfast, and our Pimm’s. I therefore feel compelled to point out an aspect of EU law which may take control over ‘what next’ out of British hands.

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Brexit & Heartbreak

The Whig party’s aversion to absolute monarchy in the early 18th Centrvl0002-01_0tury coined the term vox populi vox dei, which declared that the voice of the people is the voice of God. On June 23rd, the people of Britain spoke out and opted for the so-called Brexit, with the populist charlatan Nigel Farage characterizing the exit as a brave act of independence from the EU, as if the British people were suffering under a repressive, tyrannical reign for decades.

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Jan Smits Part of Discussion Group at European Parliament about New Consumer Directives Proposals


On February 18, Jan Smits participated in the workshop organised by the European Parliament Juri Committee regarding the new Commission proposals on online sales of tangible goods, presenting views included in his paper on ‘The New EU Proposal for Harmonised Rules for the Online Sales of Tangible Goods (COM (2015) 635): Conformity, Lack of Conformity and Remedies’.

Find the full paper on SSRN.


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MEPLI Round Table: The ‘Transnational Principles of Civil Procedure’ in an EU context (10 February, Maastricht)

Mepli round table on Tuesday, February

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Call for student applications: the User_Based Law Research Project


‘The Faculty of Law, Maastricht University, and HiiL have been granted a subsidy from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in order to set up a Chair, with the purpose to involve prestigious lawyers, who work in the field of the internationalization of law, in research, teaching and PhD research. Part of the grant allows the Faculty of Law to assign a young researcher to write a PhD under the supervision of the Chairholder.’ –

MEPLI conducts fundamental research in the field of European private law, covering the law of contract, property and tort, but also European procedural law, European legal theory and European legal history. Its establishment in 2010 marks the importance Maastricht University attaches to the international study of law and its commitment to facilitate both internationally leading academics and young scholars in pursuing high quality academic work. MEPLI’s main mission is to conduct creative and fundamental research with a special focus on exploring the consequences of Europeanization and globalization in the field of private law. In doing so, MEPLI questions the relevance of territorial and dogmatic borders delineating both national jurisdictions and the classical areas of law. Where useful, it also involves other disciplines (such as political science, economics and psychology).

The above-mentioned HiiL-UM framework supports the organization of events surrounding the research design and topics pursued by individual PhD candidates. In the light of this context, MEPLI is seeking to collaborate with students on a research project on User_Based Law.

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