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Conference ‘Judges in Utopia: Civil Courts as European Courts’

Last week, our ‘Judges in Utopia’- project’s final conference took place at the Volkshotel in Amsterdam. We very much enjoyed the fruitful and inspiring exchanges with the participants and are very grateful for the engagement with our conference’s theme from different perspectives. The conference brought together senior scholars who have been invited to reflect on the project from the perspective of their own research, junior scholars who have been selected on the basis of a call for papers and judges and advocate generals who have been invited to provide insights into the judicial practice.

After a welcome by the members of the project on Thursday, we started with the panel entitled ‘Civil courts as intermediaries’, which was chaired by Marija Bartl. Fabrizio Cafaggi drew to the potential role of Art. 47 EUCFR in interlinking administrative and judicial protection. Betül Kas presented an analytical framework to examine the judicial division of tasks in the constitutionalisation of European private law. Loes Salomez presented her comparative case study on the influence of the jurisprudence of the ECHR on national filiation law cases.

The following panel entitled ‘Civil courts as environmental courts’ was chaired by Christina Eckes. Laura Burgers examined the democratic legitimacy of climate change litigation in European private law. Monika Hinteregger assessed the significance of the requirement of causation for liability claims against emitters of greenhouse gases. Luca Perriello talked about the social function of environmental liability in the light of the Italian Ilva case.

The next day started with the keynote speech by Hans Micklitz, who took us on a journey along the misjudgments, ideologies, traumatizations, self-delusions, reactive and pro-active actionism in the educational process of building the European Union via European private law. The discussion was chaired by Aukje van Hoek. 

Friday’s first panel ‘Civil Courts as guardians of effectiveness’ was chaired by Marco Loos. Anna van Duin pointed to the signaling function of Article 47 EUCFR in cases concerning national remedies and procedures under the Unfair Contract Terms Directive. Giulia Gentile assessed whether the acquisition of legally binding effects by Article 47 EUCFR has modified the scrutiny of the CJEU over national law. Franscesca Episcopo inquired into the meaning and scope of the principle of effectiveness.

Candida Leone chaired the following panel entitled ‘Civil courts as Utopian courts’. Mateusz Grochowski examined the interrelation between speech acts, freedom of contract and consumer protection through the analysis of three judgments over sexual-orientation-based discrimination. Chantal Mak determined to what extent national judges in civil cases can and should contribute to the development of a European political community. Michael Dowdle took a critical perspective and drew to the limits of a utopian understanding of the role of the judiciary in EU law. 

During the last panel ‘Civil Courts – between reality and utopia’, which was chaired by Iris van Domselaar, judges and advocate generals provided insights into their judicial practice through the presentation of a case related to the conference’s theme. Fabrizio Cafaggi (Judge, Italian Council of State), Sandra Lange (Judge, Dutch Council of State), Špelca Mežnar (Judge, Constitutional Court of Slovenia) and Jaap Spier (Former Advocate General, Supreme Court of the Netherlands) participated.

The team aims for the publication of the contributions to the conference in a reputable journal. At this stage, we hope that you enjoy some of the photos that were taken during the conference:

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