24 August 2010


International Conference organised by the Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society (Cegesoma, Brussels), IRHIS (Université de Lille 3), CHDJ (Université catholique de Louvain) and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

3-day conference, in English and French, to be held in Brussels, in September 2011

Organising Committee : D. Luyten (Cegesoma), S. Faber (VUAmsterdam), H. Leuwers (Lille3), X. Rousseaux (UCL), M. De Koster (UCL/UGent/VUAmsterdam)

With the support of the Interuniversity Attraction Pole “Justice & Society: Socio-political History of Justice Administration in Belgium, 1795-2005” (Belgian Science Policy)

War and revolutions generate transformations of judicial institutions and practices, and bring about shifts in the occupation of positions within different sections of the judicial system, which then often undergoes expansion. These transformations can either have lasting effects or only be temporary, in which case the former judicial system is restored. Such restauration can be complete, but often the phase of war and occupation will remain to have an impact, because certain changes are consolidated, because it is no longer possible to simply restore the previous situation, or because new elements are embedded into the former system. War and revolutions are times and contexts of exception, that bring about exceptional measures, or in other words: fundamental innovations. These innovations can be import products from other countries or judicial systems, or can spring from doctrines and ideologies that differ drastically from, or even inverse formerly prevailing ideas and values, in which case the question arises to what extent innovation was merely a discursive shift.

This introductory sketch of the subject brings us to the following subthemes, which will structure the conference:

1) Changes in the judicial system: The focus here is not that much on legal changes, but rather on innovations reflecting fundamental shifts in the concept and system of justice, and that have been imported from other systems, states or ideologies. Central points of attention are the degree of innovation, the process of transfer and circulation of models and ideas, and the actors shaping and steering this process. One might consider, for example, nationalization measures in Eastern Europe and the appearance of various forms of patrimonial and fiscal sanctions, which have recently been the object of a growing body of research. Wars and revolutions also generate entirely new problems, that are impossible or very difficult to solve with the ‘normal’ judicial instruments and instead demand original solutions that, then, appear as ‘strange’ or external to the initial justice system. Within the context of this conference, particular attention needs to be paid to the heritage of the French Revolution.

2) Changes in practices: Here, the different institutional bodies making up the judicial world and their actual practices are at the centre of the attention. Did revolutions and wars bring about structural changes in the organisation and functioning of the courts, the penitentiary sector and crime control agencies? Or did other institutions or organs take on tasks that under normal conditions are executed by the justice system? On the other hand, questions should also concern the subjects and clients of the different judicial bodies: how did the context of judicial crisis and change alter their interactions with the justice system? This point refers to the blurring of boundaries between traditional categories of tolerable/intolerable, legal/illegal and good/bad behaviour at times of occupation and war, but also to possibly different uses of justice by civilians in such contexts.

3) Changes in judicial personnel and judicial professions: here the question is raised whether or not wars and revolutions brought about significant lasting changes in the personnel structure of the justice system and in the occupational position of the actors of justice (magistrates, lawyers, ministers of Justice, police forces, pentitentiary personnel, etc.). Which changes were aspired (political-ideological, legal doctrines, democratization, gender-dvision…), and which were actually translated into practice? Which mechanisms were activated en which were the central dynamics of the process of change? Here, the question of ‘purification’ initiatives and mechanisms, for example, deserves particular attention.

In terms of geographical focus, the whole of Europe is taken into consideration; papers on Eastern or Mediterranean Europe are particularly welcome. All judicial domains can be treated, but priority is given to the civil law domain (f.e. property law, civil law policy) on the one hand, and to penal law, the criminal justice sytem and all directly related and interdependent fields of justice (fiscal law, juvenile justice system, etc.) on the other. As time frames, the periods from 1795 to 1815, from 1914 to 1920, and from 1939 to 1950 have been chosen.

We hope that this project will meet with a wide response and will stimulate a lively debate.

Proposals for papers (maximum 500 words, accompanied by a short CV) are to be sent before 15 December 2010, via e-mail to &

The proceedings of the conference will be published.


I'm pleased to post the call for papers for the XVIIth European Forum of Young Legal Historians:

The international graduate and post-graduate conference ‘European Traditions: Integration or Disintegration?’ of the European Association of Young Legal Historians will take place at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, from 13-16 April 2011, Wednesday-Saturday (

The European Forum of Young Legal Historians has grown into the leading conference for young researchers in legal history in Europe and the world. Maastricht University, a truly international university at the heart of Europe, and currently celebrating its VIIth Lustrum provides the perfect location for the XVIIth Forum.

European legal traditions have always known centralising and de-centralising forces: Justinian’s Corpus iuris, the Medieval ius commune of Roman and Canon law, the usus modernus pandectarum, the current European harmonisation efforts all have an integrative character to a certain extent. Simultaneously the ius proprium, as in customary law, including the English Common law, as well as, most particularly, the national codifications of the 19th century, and the study of these laws, demonstrates the diversity of European legal traditions.

We are interested in papers and posters addressing these often contrasting developments, including their religious, philosophical, political, social or economic background. Interdisciplinary and comparative approaches are therefore most welcome.

You are strongly encouraged to give your presentation in English, as it is the current European lingua franca; French and German are also accepted, but be aware that this will reduce your audience.

Apart from the regular presentations, we will again have a ‘poster session’ or ‘poster walk’ during one of the afternoons: in several rounds you will be able to present and discuss your poster with various small groups of interested participants. Particularly PhD-candidates just starting with their research are encouraged to submit a poster outline, since the poster session will be a wonderful opportunity to obtain feedback on your project at an early stage.

Submissions with a close connection to the theme are preferred, though traditional legal history subjects are also welcome, especially in respect of the poster session.

Regular participation fee will be € 100; participants giving a paper or presenting a poster pay € 75.

Please send your application (an abstract of max. 500 words and/or an outline of a poster and a short academic CV) to

Deadline: 1 November 2010

Further information on the Association of Young Legal Historians and past Forums is available on  

We look forward to your application and to welcoming you in Maastricht in Spring 2011.

Emanuel van Dongen, Hester van der Kaaij, Mariken Lenaerts, Tanja van der Meer, Fé van Noortwijk, Janwillem Oosterhuis, Serban Vacarelu, Stefan Weishaar

Maastricht University
Department of Foundations and Methods of Law
Bouillonstraat 1-3, 6211 LH Maastricht
P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht
The Netherlands

22 August 2010

NOTICE: The Creation of the Ius Commune: From Casus to Regula

I'm delighted to announce the publication of The creation of the ius commune: from casus to regula. Edited by Professors John Cairns and Paul Du Plessis, both of Edinburgh University, it

discusses in detail how medieval scholars reacted to the casuistic discussions in the inherited Roman texts, particularly the Digest of Justinian. It shows how they developed medieval Roman law into a system of rules that formed a universal common law for Western Europe. Because there has been little research published in English beyond grand narratives on the history of law in Europe, this book fills an important gap in the literature.

With a focus on how the medieval Roman lawyers systematised the Roman sources through detailed discussions of specific areas of law, it considers:

•the sources of medieval law and how to access them
•the development from cases to rules
•medieval lawyers’ strategies for citing each other and their significance
•growth of a conceptual approach to the study of law

With contributions from leading international scholars in the field, this book therefore fills an important gap in the literature.

The contents include:
Introduction: Themes and Context (Cairns and Du Plessis)
1. An Introduction to the Interpretation of Legal Technicalities (Bezemer);
2. The Citation and the Ius Commune (Helmholz);
3. Medieval Family Law (Waelkens);
4. Legal Reasoning in Contract and Delict (Gordley);
5. The Buyer’s Remedy for Latent Defects (Hallebeek);
6. Commercial Law (Ernst);
7. The Law of Unjustified Enrichment (Schrage/Dondorp);
8. The Law of Succession (Ryan);
9. The Roman Law of Property and the Reality of the Middle Ages (Rüfner);
10. Fault-lines between contract and property in the medieval law of pledge (Du Plessis);11. Malicious litigation and the rise of the legal profession (Brundage).

For additional information see the Edinburgh Studies in Law site or

17 August 2010


Participants are being sought for a collection on Western legal hybridity.

Western legal histories are often little more than whiggish genealogies of contemporary common laws told at the expense of the legal pluralism of the past. But the creation of general national laws, a legal ‘system’ centred on the state, was a very long historical process; the elimination of competing jurisdictions and the marginalisation of other, non-state normative orders took centuries.

For much of the history of the West, there were multiple contemporaneous legal orders—customary, local, learned, common—co-existing in the same geographical space and at the same time. Indeed, this plurality of laws blurred seamlessly into the less formally institutionalised, but meaningful, normative pluralism from which more formal legal rules often emerged and with which they would continue to compete. Before the nineteenth century, the boundaries between such official and unofficial ‘legalities’ were especially porous.

The volume will examine Western jural complexity from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century. Participants will contribute historical case studies combining both legal and normative hybridity, the ‘living law’ of the past. As a whole, it may shed new light on the expansion of the nation-state and common national laws as well as on attendant developments in legal nationalism, monism, centralism, and positivism.

Given the focus of the volume, we are especially interested in those familiar with comparative law, contemporary theories of interpretation, or historical anthropology, geography, and sociology.

Anyone interested in participating should contact Seán Patrick Donlan ( or Dirk Heirbaut (

CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS: Comparative Legal Theory Project

Participants are being sought for a collaborative and comparative project in legal theory.

The Comparative Legal Theory project aims to place legal theory in its social, historical, and comparative context. Our goal is to produce jurisdictional reports on legal theory on the basis of a questionnaire prepared by the project organisers and through ongoing collaborative workshops.

A roundtable on the project will be held in Catania on Friday, 29 October 2010. Participants will be able to assist in creating the questionnaire to be used and to identify potential reporters.

The project managers are Seán Patrick Donlan (Limerick), Margaret Martin (Western Ontario), and Alessio Lo Giudice (Catania). Please email for additional information.

Please feel free to circulate this message to other individuals, institutions, blogs, etc.