The idea of two conflicting laws is not new. Ever since different laws with different scopes of application existed, questions arose as to which law should be applicable in a certain case. The first jurists to engage elaborately with these questions were the north Italian commentators of the 14th century. On the basis of the works of his predecessors, Bartolus de Sassoferrato developed the so-called theory of statuta, a theory according to which the nature and content of the statute itself defined whether it was applicable to a certain case. This doctrine was specified by French legal scholars in the 16th century who distinguished between three types of statuta with specific legal effects: statuta personalia, statuta realia and statuta mixta. The Dutch lawyers of the 17th century continued with this new theory of statuta and introduced the comity of nations as its basis.

Modern legal doctrine has treated these historical questions of conflicts of laws as part of the history of private international law. This, however, implies the existence of nations. Neither the Italians nor the French or Dutch lived in modern nation states as we live in today. Likewise, their laws were of a different nature. Conflicts of different local laws were solved within the context of the overarching common laws, Roman and canon law. I want to argue that the developments of the theory of statuta in the 14th to 17th century Europe were closely related to the nature of the legal systems where these developments took place, and explain how the different backgrounds influenced the changes in the theory of statuta.

A sandwich lunch will be available from 12.30. The meeting will begin at 1pm.