27 May 2019

OPINION: Prof. Ulrike MÜSSIG on "The European Idea of Justice"

Europe has a very specific European idea of justice: it is about reason and fairness.”
Professor Ulrike Müßig, holder of the Chair of Civil Law, German and European Legal Historian

(image source: Uni Passau)

Professor Ulrike Müßig is a European Research Council advanced grantee. She headed the “ReConFort – Reconsidering Constitutional Formation” project (grant agreement no. 339529, ReConFort) in which legal scholars spent four years researching historical constitutional debates in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.
“Europe has a very specific European idea of justice: it is about reason and fairness. It incorporates the Aristotelian idea of goodness, the English concept of equity that uses the law to compensate for hardship, and a reason-based fairness that goes beyond formal justice. Professor Kurt Lipstein, who I was fortunate enough to learn from as a student at Cambridge, impressed me with his legal scholarship permeated with this idea. Having fled to England as a Jewish civil servant in 1933, he spent the Blitz as a faculty assistant on the very pointed roof of the Squire Law Library. With three buckets of water to combat German bombs!

This elder statesman of English international inheritance law and author of the first English textbook on European law could not and would not disappoint anyone who was looking for a book in the old Squire (where they were confusingly sorted by size). ‘Justice seen to be done’ was based on values that are both British and European: reason and fairness. Kurt Lipstein embodied and taught we German students in the 1990s that fairness could be reasonably achieved by striving time and again for a distinction between ‘what is’ and interpretation.”

(source: Prof. Müssig)

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