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After months of hard work and preparation we welcome you to the Transformative Private Law blog. The transformative private law blog sets out to be a platform for the discussion, debating and (re)thinking of the transformative potential of private law. A blog that focusses on the role of private law in addressing some of the fundamental challenges of today, be they environmental or social, is a gap that required filling. So here we are.

The blogs beginnings

The genesis of this blog can be traced back to the launch of the Amsterdam Centre of Transformative Private Law (ACT), a successor of the Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL). The change of the name and research direction was first of all an attempt to place private law in a larger landscale, of which Europe is just one part. Second of all, taking transformative private law as our main object of study was not only a change of perspective, but arguably the beginnings of a paradigm change as well. Taking seriously the transformative function of private law in past, present and future, leads to a fundamental reconceptualization of the role of law in sustaining and creating societies and economies.

At the launch of the centre multiple leading scholars were asked to reflect on the concept of Transformative Private Law. These contributions from Marija Bartl, Martijn Hesselink, Chantal Mak and Jacobien Rutgers are a great starting point for thinking about transformative private law. These contributions have already been made available on the blog.

Notwithstanding its local origins, this blog sets out to be a global platform discussing  the concept of transformative private law. It hopes to engage scholars and practitioners from around the world to consider and play with the notion of transformative private law.  This plurality of views, however, should not only be seen in our contributors but also in the organization of the blog. That is why we strive to have an editorial team and board of advisors  that is diverse in terms of academic and institutional backgrounds.

Transformative Private Law?

Perhaps you are wondering, what is Transformative private law? This blog seeks to discuss, debate and answer exactly this question. Taking as a base the fact that the law sustains and can change social relations, the aim is to uncover and discuss this transformative role of private law. Private law is seen to be a structuring factor behind transformations in society, shaping and sustaining our abilities to influence future directions. The framework of engagement that private laws sets is constitutive of our day to day activities.

The project of transformative private law is at once a critical and constructive one. It is critical in that it acknowledges that current social relations are entrenched through the private legal system present today. We also see previous legal transformations as crucial for understanding the future ones. At the same time it is constructive in its positive approaches to transformation. The openness of our current legal systems to change means that change for the better- which in our view is toward a more environmentally sustainable and social equal society – is possible.

This blog tries to understand the theoretical implications of this intriguing role of private law, whilst also studying the practical implications. Discussions on the fundamental character of private law and its role in constructing society as well as contributions on salient cases will be featured on the blog.

Challenges and opportunities of transformative private law

What is inherent in the concept of transformative private law, is its relation to society and its challenges. We see Private Law as taking a constitutive and cardinal role in questions of sustainability, social justice and globalization. In entrenching certain modes of production and consumption, facilitating unjust business models and social relations and enabling an increase in the inequality between the poor and the extremely wealthy, law perpetuates these challenges. A radical rethinking of private law and our social relations in the light of these challenges is necessary.

Apart from analysing and critically assessing these challenges, seeing private law as transformative also brings with it many possibilities. Exploring ways in which finance can be used to invest in social projects rather than profit, how property may be used to promote an inclusive society and how the process can enhance human welfare and prosperity. These are just examples of the myriad of ways that private law may be used for the good.

This blog aims to be a platform where these transformative dimensions of private law can be explored and discussed. Although we work with certain categories, these categories are not independent ‘silos’. Sustainability for instance often cannot be discussed without considering issues of social justice. In that same vein finance may play a large role in the transformative answers that are brought forward in the fields of property and digitalization. We do not see these fields as separate, but rather as a guiding factor through which you may navigate the blog. This blog, on its own terms is subject to transformation as well. Shifts in interest or conception might lead to a different categorization of subjects.

The plurality of subjects, ideas and opinions on transformative private law are welcomed and cherished on this blog. Diversity of voices is one  of the pillars upon which this project was set up. Only then can we truly explore the novel concept of transformative private law and engage with it. Our hope is that this concept can grow out to be a useful and meaningful addition to how we discuss private law and may even lead to scholarship centred around the core questions that transformation in private law put forward.

What to expect

From this moment on, you are invited to read what the blog has to offer, engage with the many debates that are to come and write if you feel as passionate about the subject as we do. We will post contributions every Monday and Thursday at 11AM (CET). On behalf on everyone that was involved in setting up the blog, the board of advisors and the editorial team: we wish you a pleasant and transformative stay.

(Photo: Marien Raat)