A Societal Private Law

Anna Beckers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorAcademicpeer-review


This comment discusses on how legal change can originate from society and the private sphere. It argues that Hesselink’s perspective is too strongly oriented on public sphere and ignores the societal sphere including its transformative potential. The comment centres the concept of private law institutions and institutional change that is a core element in both Katharina Pistor’s diagnosis on coding of capital in law and Martijn Hesselink’s related proposal to reform private law institutions through a comprehensive principle-oriented code. The comment first introduces the idea of legal institutionalism in Pistor and Hesselink to then add to it an additional perspective from a new institutional theory that identifies the transformative potential within the social institutions themselves. It is then argued that the law, rather than being in need of radical change, needs to be radical in being responsive to the societal institutions. The contribution concludes by outlining on the basis of three examples – contract, tort and private international law – how societally responsive private law institutions can look like.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-389
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Law Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2022


  • private law
  • legal institutions
  • new institutionalism
  • collective self-governance
  • code of capital

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