Fundamental Rights in Private International Law – Present and Future in South Africa, Belgium, and The Netherlands

Conference organised by Robin Cupido (University of Cape Town), Benedikt Schmitz (University of Groningen), and Michiel Poesen (KU Leuven)

16 June 2022
(In-person and online)


The convenors invite contributions by young scholars to a roundtable that explores the interplay between fundamental rights and private international law in the broadest sense. In particular, it is suggested that contributors focus on specific cross- border private law relationship in which fundamental rights could be relevant such as family law and child protection, environmental torts, consumer rights, and employment relationships.

If you are interested in presenting a paper at the roundtable, we kindly invite you to submit an abstract (150 words) to by 28 February. Preference will be given to contributions in Dutch or Afrikaans, but the convenors also welcome contributions in English.

The roundtable is convened by Robin Cupido (University of Cape Town), Benedikt Schmitz (University of Groningen) and Michiel Poesen (KU Leuven). The roundtable is funded by the Tijdschrift voor Privaatrecht and will be held in a hybrid format. The funding is intended to foster comparative work between the jurisdictions of Belgium, the Netherlands, and South Africa. To that aim, we draw comparative conclusions based on the presentations.

Programme of the Conference

Private law relationships are increasingly becoming connected to multiple states due to the impact of globalisation. The dawn of e- commerce, an increase in migration, and incremental global economic integration are but a few factors that have contributed to this reality. The cross-border private law relationships created as a result of this globalisation are regulated by private international law, which details the rights and obligations that parties in such relationships bear. However, despite the positive effects of globalisation, it has also shown its potential to create situations of deprivation and economic duress, creating power imbalances which affect cross-border private law relationships.

Ever more often, such inequalities among private parties are analysed from a fundamental rights perspective. Despite its crucial role in addressing inequities between private parties, private international law – unlike disciplines such as environmental law or human rights law – has to date given limited consideration to the contribution it can make to addressing global inequalities in private law relationships. The proposed round table discussions will explore the potential of private international law in ensuring fundamental rights in private law relationships with a cross-border element. The convenors welcome contributions that explore the influence of fundamental rights in their broadest sense and context on private international law. Contributors are asked to focus on the legal systems of South Africa, Belgium, or the Netherlands. Preference will be given to contributions made in Dutch or Afrikaans, but the convenors also welcome contributions in English.


To be announced

Roundtable 1: Fundamental Rights in the Context of Civil and Commercial Matters

The discussion at this roundtable will include topics related to consumer protection, cross-border employment relationships and environmental law concerns. The ways in which PIL is applied in these types of relationships to protect the fundamental rights of parties will be considered. Contributors to this round table are invited to provide submissions of how fundamental rights inform or may inform the approach taken towards such legal relationship in the private international law of South Africa, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Roundtable 2: Fundamental Rights in International Family Matters

The focus of this panel will be on the role fundamental rights play in the private international family law, including spousal protection and child protection. Of particular relevance in this context are international and regional instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Contributors are invited to reflect on the role fundamental rights play or may play in the creation and application of relevant instruments in the field of private international family law in South Africa, Belgium and the Netherlands.