Professor Piet Sanders

A hundred-year-old innovator

Professor Sanders was a special man and an innovator. After his law studies in Leiden, he started a PhD trajectory with professor Cleveringa in 1934. At the same time, he started in the legal profession. In 1940 his promoter was arrested by the Germans, but Sanders refused to finish his PhD with someone else. In 1945, after detention in camp Sint-Michielgestel during the war, he finished his PhD (cum laude) with professor Cleveringa as his promoter.

After his promotion, Sander became Secretary-General under Schemerhorn of the Department of General Warfare of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. After the elections in 1946, Piet Sanders became Secretary-General of the Commission-General Indonesia. His mission was to peacefully resolve the conflict over the independence of Indonesia. Sanders resigned after a peaceful solution deemed impossible.

In 1959, Sanders was appointed professor of civil law and the main principles of civil procedure. He was a professor and leading expert in the field of corporate and arbitration law until 1981.

Professor Sanders was the spiritual father of the European limited company, In his inaugural lecture 'Towards a European limited liability company', he first spoke of this idea in public. He had designed a draft regulation for this European legal form on behalf of the European Commission. Since 2004, the European limited company has been introduced in all European member states.

He was a member of the Dutch Company Law Committee and wrote an authoritative manual about the Dutch limited company and the Dutch private company. Furthermore, Sanders fulfilled many supervisory directorships with (listed) companies, including KLM, Het Parool and non-profit companies.

Professor Sanders was one of the authors of the New York Convention for arbitration law and was also co-designer of the United Nations' influential Uncial arbitration rules. He also played an important role at the national level in the realization of the new Dutch Arbitration Law of 1986.

Professor Sanders was, in addition to the merits mentioned above, a leading art collector and beneficiary of art and culture. He supported, along with his wife, many beginning artists who later became great artists.

Thanks to professor Sanders the famous painter Karel Appel painted the tiles of the Tinbergen Building at Campus Woudestein. He donated a large part of his collection to museums, and he also worked for many years in the art world.

In short, Professor Sanders has been of special significance in many areas. As founder of the Faculty of Law in Rotterdam, now called Erasmus School of Law, he has always remained very involved and we will remember him permanently.