Proclamation inaugural lecture Kasper Jansen

Foto van Kasper Jansen

On 14 January 2022, Kasper Jansen, Professor of European Liability Law at Erasmus School of Law, held his inaugural lecture: "Steamroller and trailblazer. How Europe affects our liability law". In his inaugural lecture, Jansen discussed the changes in liability law that occur because of the influence of Europe. He mentions the impact of both EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). 

It seemed European law only had little influence on liability law for a long time. However, over the last couple of years, this has changed. Jansen explained: "Our liability law is changing because of European influences. That is a development that has been going on for decades now. Over the last couple of years, this has led to the fact that liability law is now inherently linked to European law."

Steamroller and trailblazer

The Europeanisation of liability law creates opportunities but also causes risks. While navigating through different examples of the Dutch Supreme Court verdicts, Jansen showed that European law can function as a 'steamroller' since it bulldozes sophistication and customisation while 'crushing' national doctrines. "In the European pursuit of effective sanctioning, a part of nuance our national law offers gets lost”, Jansen stated while referring to the cell phone verdict of the Supreme Court. On the other hand, European Law also enriches our liability law, Jansen showed using the well-known Urgenda-verdict. Then, Europe does not function as a steamroller but as a 'trailblazer', which "exposes new roads to which national law can tackle actual societal issues." In both ways – Steamroller and trailblazer – Europe shows an instrumental approach that, according to Jansen, is alien to our liability law.

Private and public law

The difference between private and public law was the main theme in Jansen's story. Jansen showed that Europe encourages the rise of 'public tendencies' in liability law. According to Jansen, these tendencies are visible on three levels: when setting standards, when promoting interests, and when enforcing laws. Jansen referred to these tendencies as: ' regulation', 'socialization' and 'sanctioning'. He argued that we must be aware of these tendencies; Europe can function as both steamroller and trailblazer when turning a blind eye towards the difference between private and public law. As a trailblazer, we should give Europe free reign, even outside the borders of Europe's framework. However, according to Jansen, we should look at the European steamroller with a critical eye. 

New adventure

Jansen looks back on a fulfilling inaugural lecture and looks forward to continuing his position as Professor of European Liability Law. "Today marks the start of an academic adventure along roads that, luckily, already have been paved by others. Hopefully, I might be able to function as a steamroller myself from time to time. I am looking forward to it!", he concluded his inaugural lecture. 

More information

The complete inaugural lecture can be watched here and will be published by Boom Juridisch.

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