Research Programmes
Behavioural Approaches to Contract and Tort

Behavioural Approaches to Contract and Tort

By thinking, deciding, and acting, we display behaviour, and in private law, behaviour is relevant in more than one respect. At times, legislatures have preconceived ideas about behaviour and how private parties will respond to legislative intervention. For example, a legislature may enact specific legislation, submitting directors of corporations to fault-based liability in the event of an insolvency of the corporation, assuming that this will give directors the incentive to take appropriate care in running the corporation's affairs. But will they do so in practice? Are there any behavioural side effects such as overzealous risk avoidance or an increase in directors’ salary demands?

Also, in order to give a clearer picture of the scope of this research, a short description of the work of some of our researchers is given below.

Programme Directors: Prof. Peter Mascini, Prof. Michael Faure and Dr Pieter Desmet.

  • Professor Xandra Kramer holds an endowed chair in European Civil Procedure

    Her research focuses on international litigation and conflict of laws in contracts and torts. She is interested in the crossroads between economic efficiency and procedural fairness, the actual functioning of civil justice systems and its impact on litigants, transnational complex litigation and enforcement and EU harmonisation. Her research combines doctrinal legal research, comparative law, policy-oriented and (qualitative) empirical research. She acquired a research grant (Vidi) from the Dutch organisation for scientific research (NWO) for a project on ‘Securing quality in cross-border enforcement’. She was the project leader of several studies for the Dutch Ministry of Justice on mass litigation and debt collection and for the European Parliament and the codification of European private international law.

  • Foto van Chris Reinders Folmer

    Chris Reinders Folmer - How to compensate effectively

    Many legal domains rely on financial damages or compensations to redress the harm that follows from violations. But in fact, little is known of the actual effectiveness of such restitution. Are monetary compensations an effective means of redressing victims’ harm? And how much should one compensate to be effective? These are the primary questions that my research addresses. Public beliefs tend to state that victims primarily desire money and that more money equals greater satisfaction (no doubt inspired by the US “claim culture”). Our research, however, refutes this idea. While victims may value compensation, a greater sum does not mean greater satisfaction. Moreover, our findings show that victims also have important immaterial needs in the aftermath of violations, which compensations alone may not redress: rather, intangible restitutions – like apologies – can considerably enhance victims’ satisfaction and bolster the impact of compensation. Our research thereby points the way toward legislation that is more in tune with victims’ needs, and more effective at redressing them.