Universiteit Leiden

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Institute of Private Law

The Institute of Private Law was closely involved in the development of Nieuw Burgerlijk Wetboek (the Civil Code of the Netherlands, which came about between 1948 and 1992). It has continued to fulfil this socially engaged role over the years. It also made a significant contribution to the development of civil law systems in countries such as Russia, China and Indonesia.

Hub of knowledge

The Institute is a hub of knowledge and knowledge transfer in both the national and international arenas. The Department of Child Law teaches and conducts research in the field of Dutch child law and international children’s rights. The position of the child in law is crucial here. The researchers at the Hazelhoff Centre for Financial Law focus on the legal aspects of supervision of the financial sector, the functioning of financial markets, finance transactions, market abuse, payment systems, duties of care in the banking sector, corporate governance, bank insolvency and liability in the financial sector. They also focus on ethical aspects, which have been a significant part of the discussion following the global financial crisis of 2088.

Working legal system

The researchers at the Institute closely follow legal developments. These form the basis of the advice that they issue to the legal profession, among others in academic publications and postgraduate education. Their knowledge is therefore seen and used. And its importance is clear: a working legal system, both nationally and internationally. The relationship with the practice of law is visible across the board. The researchers discuss case law with the court in The Hague several times per year, for example. And much of what they write is published in journals that are read by members of the legal profession throughout the Netherlands.

The Institute sees it as its task to help preserve private law, including civil procedure. This is in the role of a champion of accessible and comprehensible property and private law. Master’s students are included in the Institute’s research, thus affording them a glimpse of life outside lectures.

Everyday matters

The focus lies on everyday matters – within property law, for example, which involves topics such as contracts and damage compensation. The researchers look beyond the legal spectrum. How well does the average business owner understand a bailiff’s form, for instance? But the researchers at the Institute of Private Law also look at the value of empirical studies to legal experts and the practice of law. This varies from psychological experiments in personal injury cases to case studies of law enforcement.

Looking further

What it boils down to is looking further than law alone. The Institute’s researchers also study the societal role of private law in more depth. This involves not only citizens but also businesses: the topic of corporate social responsibility, for instance. A business produces a product, but at what cost? Can a consumer expect a product to be responsibly produced? These questions guide the Institute’s approach to international businesses such as Shell and Ikea. What demands should be made of the production process?

Within the very broad Department of Notarial Law, ground leases are a topical subject that is at play in many large Dutch cities. The Institute has consequently built up a strong relationship with the entire notarial profession, from Zuidas, the financial centre of Amsterdam, to the far-flung corners of the country.

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