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LEF grant for legal history research into limitation of marine liability

In July 2021 the Leiden Empowerment Fonds (LEF) awarded a research grant of €13,500 for research into the history of maritime law in early modern times.

Tim Lubbers will use this grant to conduct research into the introduction of maritime liability limitation in English common law in the eighteenth century. The research will be supervised by Professor Egbert Koops (Legal History) and Professor Willem van Boom (Civil Law). Tim Lubbers will start in 2021-2022 as a PhD candidate at the Department of Legal History. His PhD research will focus on the historical development of the maritime liability limitation. Lubbers will be completing his master’s degree in civil law at Leiden University this year and was previously awarded a master’s degree from the University of Oxford.

The modern regime of maritime liability limitation can be traced back to English common law. In 1733, this legal concept was introduced by the Responsibility of Shipowners Act. This Act was probably modelled on Roman-Dutch law, which had already introduced a limited shipowners’ liability in the seventeenth century. Notions of equity played a major role at that time. Up to today, the introduction of maritime limitation liability in English law – just like the current regime – was mainly attributed to economic factors. Therefore, it is important that the Dutch influence on English law is studied.

In modern maritime law the limitation of liability is controversial. Lubbers’ PhD research will provide a better understanding of the historical background and systematic embedding of this concept. The award of the LEF grant is also a significant boost to research on maritime law at Leiden Law School. The LUF had previously provided a grant of €12,000 for part of this research.

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