Ius Commune Conference 2017: Workshop on Liability and Insurance

By Dr. William Bull, Doris Beganovic and Stefan Cîrjan


The annual Ius Commune Conference was held this year in Utrecht on 23-24 November 2017 and comprised various workshops, one of which was on the subject of ‘Liability and Insurance’. The theme of this workshop was ‘The legal battle against lawful products or services that are potentially threatening to human health’. The workshop was chaired by Anne Keirse; professor of Private Law at Utrecht University and a judge at the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam.

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Can an agreement that was void at any moment due to a violation of competition law be revived?

Crosspost from Monard Law

When a court invalidates an agreement because the rules of contract law were violated (for example because the agreement was concluded as a result of a mistake or deception), then that agreement is deemed to have never existed. It was never valid and never will be valid. Aside from a few exceptions, everything that has already been performed under the agreement must be undone. If an agreement is invalidated for violation of competition law, the consequences are less clear.

It is possible that at the time of concluding a contract the agreement is already in violation of Belgian and/or European competition law because, for example, a producer imposes minimum selling prices on a distributor. In that case, it is also deemed that the agreement never existed.

However, it is also possible that at the time of its conclusion, an agreement benefits from a competition law block exemption, such as exists for distribution agreements, technology transfer agreements and so forth. The agreement is then deemed not to be in conflict with Belgian or European competition law.

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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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A first but steady step towards a vision of technology and legal data

On the 17th January 2018, a think tank meeting between the Faculty of Law, the Institute of Data Science and the Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering took place at our Faculty. The event had a significant adherence by members of all the faculties, institutes and departments involved, showing the commitment of the University of Maastricht to become an eminent point of reference in the field of digital disruption and data. The intensively productive, interdisciplinary workshop consisted of individual pitch sessions, a breakout group session and a final, summary and action items short session.

Throughout the event, a lot of “food for thought” was served. Organising terminology training for the faculty’s academic staff, using automation in case law analysis and offering courses on formal reasoning, logic, and general application of AI to our students were just a few of the ideas that were shared and further discussed during the networking drink offered by the organisers. In a nutshell, this was a first, but very steady step towards a very strong interfaculty cooperation around an overarching vision of technology and legal data.

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Think Tank meeting on data and digital disruption at the Faculty of Law of the Maastricht University

On Wednesday 17 January 2018, members from the Faculty of Law, the Institute for Data Science and the Department of Knowledge Engineering will gather in a Think Tank meeting, which is aimed at getting to know each other’s research interests and activities and to explore opportunities for collaboration in the field of data and digital disruption. The meeting, which will include short, individual pitch sessions and pitch breakouts, will take place from 14:30 – 17:30 in Room B0.118 of the Faculty of Law.​ Jan Smits and Michel Dumontier (IDS) will deliver the opening keynote addresses.

For further information, please contact Marta Santos Silva (m.santossilva@maastrichtuniversity.nl)

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ADR in Legal Education: The Promise of 21st Century Skills (18 January, Maastricht)


Technology is one of the main factors challenging the 21st-century job market. With a new wave of automatization just around the corner, one of the main questions a lot of professions will have in common is: what can professionals do, that machines cannot? One of the answers to this question relates to the increased attention given at international level to soft skills in education. These skills include empathy, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity, to mention a few.

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