(image: Gdansk Faculty of Law and Administration)
The 4th Biennal Conference of the European Society for Comparative Legal History was held in Gdansk (Poland) last week. The organisers hosted a wonderful conference in the "three cities" (Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot) by the Baltic shores. Especially the first day, in the Artus Court and Town hall, will be remembered. The conference started with a traditional gunsalvo in the magnificent Gothic Hall and featured inter alia meetings with Borislav Komorowski (president from 2010 to 2015) and the legendary Lech Walesa.
(Gdansk Town Hall)
On the scientific side, the conference theme Culture, Identity and Legal Instrumentalism hosted multiple comparative legal historical panels, ranging from the history of commercial law to codification and constitutional culture. The keynotes by Ulrike Müssig (the Polish 1791 and American 1787 constitution, Passau, reply by my former supervisor Dirk Heirbaut, Gent) and Marju Luts-Sotak (split dominium, Tartu, reply by former International Franqui-Professor in Ghent Heikki Pihlajamäkki, Helsinki) illustrate the diversity of topics covered by the society and its members' research.
I presented a paper on the Belgian publicist Jan-Jozef Raepsaet (1750-1831) in a panel on "constitutional high points in the low countries", with colleagues Klaas Van Gelder (UGent/FWO) and Brecht Deseure (Passau/VUB) and had the pleasure to chair a session on "axiological constitutionalism and 19th century identity building", with speakers Imre Kepessy (Budapest), Judit Beke-Martos (Bochum) and Stefan Huygebaert (UGent/FWO). The full program can be found here.
Finally, the Society honoured me greatly with the attribution of the Biennal Van Caenegem Prize 2016 for best article published in Comparative Legal History by a scholar under the age of 38. The article in question has been published in the first issue of the journal's third volume and treats the Belgian legal scholar Ernest Nys (ULB) and his role during the Great War (see earlier on this blog).
(Van Caenegem Prize Award)
The conference was at the same time an occasion to discover the city of Günter Grass and the Hanse, or to visit the impressive castle of Marienburg, a Unesco World Heritage Site.