Ivo Giesen

Welkom op de website van Ivo Giesen, Hoogleraar Privaatrecht aan het Molengraaff Instituut van de Universiteit Utrecht en programmaleider van UCALL (Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law).


Vanaf februari 2013 start in Utrecht het nieuwe onderzoekszwaartepunt 'Verantwoordelijkheid & Aansprakelijkheid', onder de noemer UCALL (hetgeen staat voor Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law). Dit multidimensionale onderzoeksprogramma, onder leiding van Prof. F.G.H. Kristen (strafrecht) en Prof. I. Giesen (privaatrecht), verbindt strafrechtelijke, bestuursrechtelijke, Europees- en internationaalrechtelijke en privaatrechtelijke onderzoekers in hun zoektocht naar - kort gezegd - de grenzen van juridische aansprakelijkheid en verantwoordelijkheid in de hedendaagse maatschappij, zowel in Nederland als in Europa. Zie nader de samenvatting en het (voorlopige) programma. Dit programma vormt een van de drie onderzoekszwaartepunten (naast twee parels) die door het Departement recht van de Universiteit Utrecht geprioriteerd zijn als terreinen die onderzoeksfocus en extra middelen krijgen. Er doen zo'n 25 onderzoekers mee aan het programma dat loopt tot begin 2018. De gekozen methode (multidimensionaliteit) sluit aan bij de methode zoals gepropageerd in de oratie van Giesen uit 2005. 


Civilologie / Civilology (voorheen: Gedrag & Privaatrecht)

Met Willem van Boom (EUR, inmiddels Leiden; zie www.professorvanboom.eu) is Ivo Giesen al enige jaren actief om de CIVILOLOGIE te promoten. Dit doen we onder andere via een boekenreeks, uitgegeven door BJu/Eleven Publishing, in afwisselend Nederlands en Engels.  

"In the CIVILOLOGY | CIVILOLOGIE series, the focus is on how private law works in real life. Rather than analysing private law from a strictly legal doctrinal perspective, this series encompasses the combined use of insights from social sciences – ranging from economics to psychology and sociology – in order to analyze the behavioural assumptions underlying private law, to understand the effects it has on individuals, organisations and businesses and to appreciate the impact of both assumptions and effects on policymakers, legislatures and courts. The CIVILOLOGY | CIVILOLOGIE series is edited by Willem van Boom (Erasmus Law School) and Ivo Giesen (Utrecht School of Law). "

Zo verscheen in 2012 het boek Civilologie: opstellen over empirie en privaatrecht (BJu 2012) onder redactie van Van Boom, Giesen & Smits, en in dezelfde reeks verscheen tevens het boek Judicial Decision Making in Civil Law onder redactie van Giard (Eleven publishing 2012), waaraan Giesen een bijdrage leverde.

Ook hebben we, met Albert Verheij (Groningen), het boek Gedrag & Privaatrecht doen verschijnen,waarin deze benadering is toegepast op diverse leerstukken uit het privaatrecht. Op 18 september 2013 verscheen de uitgebreide 2e druk van dit boek, onder de titel Capita Civilologie. Handboek Empirie en Privaatrecht) als deel 6 in de reeks

In 2015 verscheen deel 7 in de reeks, 'Ervaringen met het verhaal van schade' onder redactie van Lindenbergh & Akkermans. Deel 8, de monografie van R. Giard over 'Werken aan waarheidsvinding' is inmiddels ook verschenen.


Conference Announcement on Judge Made Risk Regulation

On the 9th and 10th of February 2017, the Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law (Ucall) and Erasmus School of Law’s research programme Behavioural Approaches to Contract and Tort will organize a two-day colloquium on ‘judge made risk regulation’,financed by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). During this two-day colloquium outstanding academic experts, who are active in the field of tort law, EU law, regulation, civil procedure and law and economics, will assess the potential and limits of judicial risk regulation as a mechanism to redress (alleged) regulatory failures in the context of health and environmental risks.As the Urgenda judgment on Dutch climate change policies illustrates, civil courts can be participants in the (political and regulatory) process of risk regulation. This raises fundamental questions about the capacity and legitimacy of (civil) courts to operate as (semi-)risk regulators and as such intervene in governmental risk policies. Does judicial intervention in governmental risk regulation undermine the foundations of our Western polity? Do courts have the tools to act as risk regulators? Are they able to take into account the social and economic consequences of their rulings? Are they capable of making a sound risk assessment?  Below you’ll find a draft programme. There is no conference fee. Registration is possible by sending an e-mail to ucall@uu.nl. The conference will be held in Utrecht.


The organizing committee consists of:

Prof. dr. M.G. Faure

Prof. dr. I. Giesen

Dr. E.R. de Jong

Prof. dr. P. Mascini


Conference on Accountability and International Business Operations

The Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law (UCALL) will host the 2017 international conference titled ‘Accountability and International Business Operations: Providing Justice for Corporate Violations of Human Rights, Labor and Environmental Standards’. The conference will be held at Utrecht University on 19 and 20 May 2017.

Conference set-up 

The adverse effects of multinational corporations’ business activities, especially on human rights, labor rights and the environment in the host country of investment, have been well documented. A consensus has also emerged that corporations have social and environmental responsibilities when operating transnationally. However, how exactly corporations can be held legally accountable for their transgressions, if at all, is less clear. This conference inquires how regulatory tools stemming from international law, public law, and private law may or may not be used for transnational corporate accountability purposes. Attention will be devoted to applicable standards of liability, institutional and jurisdictional issues, as well as practical challenges, with a focus on ways to improve the existing legal status quo. In addition, there will be consideration of the extent to which non-legal regulatory instruments may complement or provide (more viable?) alternatives to these legal mechanisms. The conference combines legal-doctrinal approaches with interdisciplinary and policy insights.

Panel 1 – Accountability through international law

The fact that many corporations these days operate transnationally does not mean that states have disappeared from view. Corporations always perform their operations on the territory of states, and they are incorporated or headquartered in states. States can use these links to regulate business activities across borders. Pooling their sovereign competences, they may also enter into international agreements to regulate such activities. A number of soft law international codes of conduct have thus been adopted, most notably the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Binding international agreements on responsible business practices are lacking, however, with bilateral investment treaties typically paying only scant attention to the obligations of investors as opposed to those of the host state.

Still, in the wake of the widely accepted UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, a proposal was tabled in 2014 for an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations with respect to human rights, which is to impose direct obligations on corporations. Such an instrument is global civil society’s hope and corporations’ obvious bugbear. For it to be more than a pipedream, the added legal value and effectiveness of imposing binding international obligations on corporations needs to be closely scrutinized. At the same time, the question arises what type of – existing or newly to be established – supervisory body should be put in charge of monitoring and enforcing such obligations.

This panel is open to submissions on the potential of international legal instruments, including but not limited to trade and investment treaties, to accommodate and further corporate accountability in the field of human rights, labor rights, and the environment. Submissions could also focus on the effect of international standards, of the hard or soft law variety, in domestic legal practice. Critical reflection on the added value of binding international legal instruments over non-legal or soft law instruments is welcomed.

Panel 2 – Accountability through domestic public law         

States are responsible for the regulation and supervision of the activities of all persons within their territory. The principle of sovereignty allows states to intervene by any means in order to prevent certain acts from happening, to maintain peace and order, to protect human rights as well as other rights and interests, to steer society in a certain direction, and to influence the behavior of persons or organizations. Policy, financial measures (including taxes), and the law are all instruments that states may rely on for such interventions. Corporations that are incorporated or headquartered in a State are subject to these instruments. The law in particular can be used to set standards for the protection and enhancement of human rights and the environment to which corporations, their managers, employees and subcontractors have to comply.

In case of non-compliance, public law instruments offer a variety of ways to hold those involved responsible; in some instances those instruments may also be relied on to address corporate misconduct taking place abroad. Reporting obligations, for instance, may play a role in creating transparency on cases of non-compliance, which in turn facilitates monitoring and enforcement through legal instruments as well as through the ‘courts of public opinion’. Administrative or criminal investigations of business operations that are suspected of harming human rights or the environment may result in legal procedures in order to establish liability of corporations, managers, employees and subcontractors and to impose sanctions. The evidence gathered and the outcome of these administrative or criminal law procedures may subsequently be relied on in civil law procedures.

This panel is open to submissions discussing the potential of domestic public law instruments, including criminal, administrative and procurement law, to regulate global corporate activity and to hold corporations accountable for transnational misbehavior. Submissions regarding the effectiveness of such instruments in changing corporate behavior are also welcome, as are submissions comparing different public law instruments, instruments from different legal systems and/or legal and non-legal instruments.

Panel 3 – Accountability through domestic private law

The regulation of transnational business practices comprises not only measures to prevent future misconduct, but also measures to establish accountability and remedies for past wrongs. This can be done at the initiative of the state, for instance through criminal law procedures, but also at the initiative of those suffering harm as a result of corporate violations of human rights, labor and environmental standards, and/or of civil society organizations. In the absence of effective state regulation at the domestic or the international level, victims of corporate human rights and environmental abuses have over the past two decades increasingly turned to civil law procedures in order to denounce abusive corporate behavior and obtain remedies for their harm . Where local court systems fail, these procedures are often filed abroad, usually in the home countries of the corporate actors involved.

The mechanism that is currently most utilized for this is tort law. In addition to the many cases that have been pursued before US federal courts on the basis of the Alien Tort Statute, transnational tort claims relating to corporate human rights and environmental abuse have also been pursued in other jurisdictions, like Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden. However, these tort-based claims are not the only option via which accountability and remedies for irresponsible business practices may be sought. Private law mechanisms in the fields of contract law, consumer law, business law and competition law may also provide possibilities to establish legal accountability for human rights or environmental abuse within the supply chain, at the initiative of shareholders, competitors or consumers. In addition, non-judicial grievance mechanisms may be relied on to settle disputes and find remedies outside of the courtroom. Yet other private (law) mechanisms may be contemplated for future cases.

This panel is open to submissions on how transnational corporations are held accountable through private law procedures and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and discussions of the obstacles faced by those seeking to address irresponsible business practices through such mechanisms. Such obstacles may include, but are not limited to domestic courts’ competence to adjudicate claims, lack of applicable standards, legal representation and funding, evidential matters, follow-up to non-judicial dispute settlements and enforcement of awards. Submissions regarding the actual effect of private law or non-judicial procedures on corporate behavior are also welcome, as are submissions comparing different private law instruments, instruments from different legal systems and/or legal and non-legal instruments.


The conference is organized by a team of researchers from the Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law: Prof. Ivo Giesen (private law), Dr. Liesbeth Enneking (private law), Prof. François Kristen (criminal law), Anne-Jetske Schaap (criminal law), Prof. Cedric Ryngaert (international law), and Lucas Roorda (international law).

For further questions regarding the conference or this call for papers, please contact us through ucallconference@uu.nl.

Private Law Network

Sinds de zomer van 2015 is Ivo Giesen betrokken bij het internationale Private Law Network dat door Matt Dyson (inmiddels Oxford; UCALL Fellow) is opgezet. Het doel is om een samenwerkingsverband tot stand te brengen tussen civilisten uit diverse jurisdicties en om gezamenlijk projecten op te zetten en uit te voeren. Ivo werkt daarin samen met UCALL collega's Elbert de Jong en Marlou Overheul. Medio juli 2016 vond in Cambridge een eerste workshop plaats, een tweede workshop volgt, in december 2016 of januari 2017.

Katadreuffe Prijs ingesteld

Bij de ontvangst van de prijs van Docent van het Jaar 2011-2012 maakte Ivo Giesen bekend dat hij het aan die prijs verbonden geldbedrag van 5.000,- Euro wil inzetten voor het instellen van een jaarlijkse prijs voor de 'Meest opmerkelijke Utrechtse rechtenstudent' van het afgelopen jaar. Deze nieuwe prijs, inmiddels de KATADREUFFE-prijs genoemd (naar de hoofdpersoon uit het boek Karakter van F. Bordewijk) is verder opgezet in samenwerking met de JSVU en het Molengraaff Dispuut en is op 4 september 2012 voor de eerste maal uitgereik door een jury onder voorzitterschap van Prof. F.G.H. Kristen (UU). 

De winnaar in 2012 was Tom Booms, in 2013 won Carrie van der Kroon, in 2014 ging de prijs naar Thom Wetzer, en in 2015 won Anne-Jetske Schaap.

Crime & Tort

Vanaf het voorjaar van 2013 was Ivo Giesen betrokken bij het internationale onderzoeksproject Crime and Tort dat door Matt Dyson (Cambridge; UCALL Fellow) werd opgezet. Het doel was de interactie tussen beide rechtsgebieden nader te bestuderen en analyseren. Ivo werkte samen met UCALL collega's Francois Kristen en Renee Kool. Medio september 2013 vond in Cambridge een eerste workshop plaats, een tweede workshop volgde in april 2014. Het uit dit project resulterende boek (M. Dyson ed., 'Comparing tort and crime')verscheen in de zomer van 2015 bij Cambridge University Press.

Burgerschap 3.0

Met een in competitie verkregen subsidie van de KNAW (uit het programma Over grenzen) gaat een groep Utrechtse onderzoekers (Buyse, Enneking, Giesen, De Kezel, Prak) in 2013-2014 het project Burgerschap 3.0 opzetten en uitvoeren: een KNAW Mini-symposium, enkele seminars en een conferentie staan op de rol. Enige extra informatie treft u bijgaand aan. Zie ook de bijdrage van Giesen aan het debat viaSocialevraagstukken.nl.

NJV en Jonge NJV

Tussen 2010 en 2013 was Ivo Giesen bestuurslid van de Nederlandse Juristen-Vereniging (NJV), de grootste en meest algemene vereniging van juristen. In die hoedanigheid richtte hij in 2010 de Jonge NJV op, een forum voor jonge juristen die in een dynamische omgeving willen discussieren over de brede thema's die in de juridische wereld van vandaag spelen. In december 2015 vond aan de EUR Rotterdam Amsterdam de 6e bijeenkomst van de Jonge NJV plaats (na Utrecht, Nijmegen, Leiden, VU Amsterdam en Tilburg).

Overige Projecten

Naast  voornoemde projecten, is Ivo Giesen o.a. betrokken bij diverse Utrechtse promotietrajecten, alsmede bij het Strategisch thema 'Institutions for Open Societies' (voorheen ook wel het kenniscentrum 'Instituties van de Open Samenleving' (IOS) genoemd), bij de Wetenschappelijke Adviescommissie van de Raad voor de rechtspraak (lid), en bij diverse 2e en 3e geldstroomprojecten van UCALL en/of het Molengraaff Instituut voor Privaatrecht.

Tevens is hij programmaleider van het programma Aansprakelijkheid & Verzekering van de Ius Commune Research School, en werkt hij mee aan een Europees project over causaliteit (met Rianka Rijnhout). Ook werkt hij aan een project over agressie bij jeugdigen op voetbalvelden (met Rijnhout, en UU-collega's van Ontwikkelingspsychologie en USBO) gesponsord door het Strategisch thema Dynamics of Youth van de UU.

Molengraaff Dispuut

Sinds enige jaren mag ik als beschermheer van het Molengraaff Dispuut optreden.