29 August 2014


 Pictures: the certificate of the Van Caenem prize. Photo of Prof. em. dr. dr. h.c. mult. Raoul Van Caenegem congratulating Bram Delbecke.

To encourage promising young  researchers, the ESCLH established the Van Caenegem prize, named after  R.C. Van Caenegem a leading scholar  in the field of comparative legal history.  The prize is awarded biyearly to a young legal historian deemed to have written the best article in Comparative Legal History, the ESCLH journal, in the two years before ESCLH conferences.

On recommendation of the Van Caenegem Prize Committee the ESCLH has decided at its meeting in Macerata in July 2014 to give this prize to Bram Delbecke for his article

"The Political Offence and the Safeguarding of the Nation State: Constitutional Ideals, French Legal Standards and Belgian Legal Practice, 1830–70."

The members of the Van Caenegem Prize Committee were:  Kjell Åke Modéer (Lund) (president of the Committee), Thomas Duve (Frankfurt), Richard H. Helmholz (Chicago), Bruno Debaenst (Ghent) and  Kamila Staudigl-Ciechowicz (Vienna).

The motives of the Committee
“The article on the political offence and it's reproduction in the Belgium constitutional law is a convincing paper, which combines solid scholarship, readings of historical texts, with a clear question of great importance for the comparative constitutional history of Europe.  We regard it as an added value that he has brought up a problem within comparative constitutional law, also masterly handed by Raoul van Caenegem himself. Delbecke obviously masters his topic, he has both an eye for detail, while always keeping the general overview. Even if he concentrates on the legal aspects of his topic, he also contextualizes by putting the legal development in relation to socio-religious as well as economic questions. The dynamic, expressive way in which the article is written, demonstrates Bram Delbecke’s skilful approach to comparative European legal history. To sum up: It fits perfectly within the framework of “comparative legal history”.”

The board of the ESCLH wants to congratulate dr. Bram Delbecke for his fine piece of scholarship. The board and the editors of Comparative legal history call for other young legal historians who are eligible under the rules of the Van Caenegem prize to send manuscripts for review to the articles editor of Comparative legal history (

The prize consists of certificate and a sum of money.
(text: Dirk Heirbaut (Gent))

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