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The Many Concepts of Social Justice in European Private Law

The Many Concepts of Social Justice in European Private Law

Edited by Hans-W. Micklitz

This insightful book, with contributions from leading international scholars, examines the European model of social justice in private law that has developed over the 20th century.

Chapter 8: The Nile Perch in European Private Law

Ugo Mattei

Subjects: law - academic, european law, private international law


Ugo Mattei1 Like the Nile Perch in Lake Victoria, European private law (EPL)2 has enormously expanded its might and reach in the last 20 years. Incrementally transformed into a well-funded academic industry, it has been the most important agency of penetration in Europe of a Western-centric legal ideology embedded in neo-liberal economic models3. This transformation has been in countertendency to the evolution of the first part of the twentieth century, when cultural and political forces were capable of moving private law ideology away from the bourgeois liberal values based on individualism, selfishness and exclusion. In fact, inclusiveness into a variety of welfare programs and an expanded role of public law characterized the political economy of the most advanced European legal environments in the first 80 years of the twentieth century4. However this highly advanced political economy which was capable of constructing an ambitious welfare state, was grounded in an obsolete legal consciousness. State-centrism, legal formalism, lack of comparative dialogue and disconnection of law from other social sciences provided the conservative form of a progressive substance of the law before the fall of the Berlin Wall. To the contrary, the transformation of private law in Europe determined by the EPL industry can be considered progressive in its forms5 (anti-positivist, 1 I wish to thank Emanuele Ariano and Marco De Morpurgo, both MS candidates at IUC, for their help in researching and editing this chapter. 2 For a general overview on European Private Law, Bussani, M. and F. Werro (eds) (2009)...

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