19 april 2018
The debate concerning the future of European private law was by many structured on a perceived dichotomy between European codification and (neo)-nationalism. Indeed, the rise of nationalism and Brexit seem to have pushed aside the large codification projects from the agenda.
However, instead of this false dichotomy one may sketch an alternative path towards Europeanization, with less emphasis on coherence, accepting that fragmentation of law is a natural phenomenon in a society marked by growing epistemic and ethical uncertainty. Instead of grand narratives on codification, we should rather tell small narratives on legal change in an uncertain and unsystematic environment.
In Europe, such narratives open for learning across the borders, for a free movement of legal ideas. However, accepting such movement of ideas requires a deeper analysis of the use of foreign law as legal source and what it implies for the concept of foreseeability. New challenges and new opportunities are posed by the digital disruption that makes an abundance of legal material accessible and searchable.
Thomas Wilhelmsson is Professor of Civil and Commercial Law at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He is the former Rector and now Chancellor of the University. As researcher professor Wilhelmsson has published books and articles in thirteen languages in contract law, insurance law, consumer law, the law of partnerships, tort law, European Community law and legal theory.