Research team

Expertise

My research is situated in the domain of private international law. In this domain I work on different topics such as international contract law, international family law and international civil procedure. I focus on the international, European and national aspects of private international law. The common thread throughout my work has always been and remains vulnerability and vulnerable groups. This can concern children or adults with a handicap. It can also encompass consumers or other groups that are in a weak bargaining position in an international contract setting or that deserve special protection in international procedures.

JUST BONDING: Filiation in Private International Law between Biology, Law, and Society. 01/01/2024 - 31/12/2027

Abstract

Recently we have witnessed important scientific developments in artificial (or assisted) reproductive technologies (ART). At the same time, there have been social and cultural evolutions in thinking about same-sex marriage and families. Laws on child-parent relations in various countries have not changed at the same pace and not in the same direction, due to the difficulties to integrate new phenomena in the longstanding traditions of national family laws. Belgium and Switzerland have regulated ART but not surrogacy, and have taken legislative steps to protect children's right to know their origins. Other countries consider several ART practices contrary to public policy (Germany, France and Italy). Some have regulated child-parent relations emanating from ART (The Netherlands and the United Kingdom); some are or have been destinations of "reproductive" tourism (Spain and Greece). Others are reluctant to recognise same-sex parenthood (Croatia and Poland). This is resulting in extraordinary diversity and even political tension. JUST BONDING will analyse the different laws, as well as how legal systems accept or refuse to accept parent-child relationships established in other countries. Project partners will study how principle of the best interests of the child and other fundamental rights influence the establishment, recognition and contestation of child-parent relations. They will identify appropriate conditions for legal recognition of these new forms of parenthood.

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  • Research Project

Decolonising the collections: Analysing private collecting of, and attitudes towards, colonial-era African art in Belgium. 01/06/2023 - 31/05/2027

Abstract

While much research is being carried out concerning publicly held collections of colonial-era objects,especially in European museums, the privately held objects, and the values attached to them by their owners, remains little researched. In the context of post-colonial debates and attempts to decolonize cultural spaces, questions arise as to whether holding colonial-era cultural objects is still seen as socially and culturally acceptable, and the extent to which this affects the feelings of owners towards their objects. This doctoral study addresses this gap in the research, focusing on colonial-era African art and artefacts held privately in Belgium as a national case study that has potential to shed significant light on what are global discourses. Therefore, the project asks the following questions: What can be learned about the scale and nature of privately held colonial-era African art in Belgium? What attachments and meanings do owners associate with colonial-era African art in Belgium? To what extent might post-colonialism debates or other contemporary discourses have impacted owners of privately held colonial-era African art in Belgium?

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  • Research Project

Private International Law in Motion 2.0 (PAX 2.0). 01/11/2022 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

PAX 2.0 combines a number of educational and training activities to ensure a better understanding ans application of the main legal instruments in the area of civil justice. The project therefore intends to combine the components of the earlier JUDGTRUST and PAX projects that have proven their worth -i.e. the moot court and partnership with the judiciary- with two new elements: a particular focus put on the further extension of the moot court to student teams from third countries and the development of a guide on the organization of moot courts on EU private international law that would make the expertise gained in our earlier projects available to the Commission through a practical manual. Ideally, this manual would be made freely accessible online. A further important element of PAX 2.0, which is also in line with JUDGTRUST and PAX, is that the moot courts and judicial training will focus on topical issues of EU private international law, which should ensure improved knowledge of those legislative instruments that are new and/or raise new legal questions. In short, this proposal seeks to ensure that the proposed consortium further develops and expands students', academics' and trainee judges' knowledge on major recent developments of EU private international law, through moot courts and judicial trainings respectively. It is therefore meant to improve the effective and coherent application of the legislative instruments of judicial cooperation in civil matters. Moreover, it envisages the consolidation of the moot courts as an attractive educational tool in that respect, both for EU and non-EU law students interested in EU private international law.

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  • Research Project

Private International Law in Motion (PAX). 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2022

Abstract

This project creates the institutional framework among seven research institutions to further consolidate the international Moot Court Competition on EU private international law and to further strenghthen judicial training in this area of the law. The project hopes to achieve the following objectives: - Consolidation, further improvement and expansion of a pan-European and international Moot Court Competition on EU private international law; - Increased awareness of EU private international law among students, legal professionals and academics; - Increased knowledge of students and junior legal professionals (judges trainees in particular) in EU private international law; - Opportunities for students and junior legal professionals (judges trainees in particular) to gain practical experience with the application of EU private international law; - Increased knowledge of EU private international law; - More efficiency and consistency in the interpretation and application of EU private international law, both within the EU and beyond; - Coordinated teaching, mutual learning, colloboration and enlarged networks for those concerned with the correct and consistent application of EU private international law instruments.

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  • Research Project

Including children for a better and more child-friendly case-handling, procedure and enforcement of decision in cross-border family disputes (INCLUDE). 01/09/2019 - 31/08/2021

Abstract

The 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention has a limited but essential goal: assure the prompt return of children who are unlawfully taken to or retained in another member state. The Brussels IIa revision, currently under revision, complements this instrument. The European Commission and the European Parliament pleaded for a stronger focus on mediation and a better protection of the best interests of the child. This seems to be of vital importance. Recent research revealed that children feel frustrated about the lack of clear communication and a limited understanding of the situation. Additionally, children had the feeling that their opinion was not taken into account, even when they did have the opportunity to be heard. An undesired outcome for the child leads to feelings of desperation and anxiety. With regard to enforcement, a significant negative effect of the arrest of the abducting parent is perceived on the wellbeing of the child. Children who did not get the chance to say goodbye to their family and friends, alsoshowed a lower wellbeing. On the other hand, children who receive psychological assistance upon return, show a significantly better wellbeing as compared to children who did not receive such assistance. This research project aims to discuss with youngsters the most appropriate way to deal with child abduction cases (both at the level of the procedure and at the level of the enforcement of the judgments). The University of Antwerp team will provide the literature study, while the other partners will hold workshops with children to discuss children's rights and the procedures. The University of Antwerp team will use the results to write a good practice guide for professionals. the aim is to ensure a child-friendly approach to the problem.

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  • Research Project

Regulation BIa: a standard for free circulation of judgments and mutual trust in the European Union (JUDGTRUST). 01/11/2018 - 31/07/2022

Abstract

The Project analyses the application of the Brussels I Recast Regulation and is set to provide recommendations on how to achieve a greater consistency in the international civil procedure instruments of the EU to enhance legal certainty, predictability and access to justice in cross border legal transactions. Global legislative developments will also be considered.

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  • Research Project

BECAREFUL: BEst interests interpretation in Child Abduction cases: an exploration into REsolving Fragmentation Under different international Legal regimes. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

According to children's rights law, as a subsection of human rights law, the best interests of the individual child must be a paramount consideration in all matters involving a child. According to private international law, when a parent wrongfully takes a child from one country to another, the general approach to the best interests of the child is that that child must be speedily taken back (unless exceptional circumstances can be proved). The individual versus general approach to the best interests of the child has caused debate among scholars and confusion among judges and civil servants. The question arises how these two international legal frameworks (in particular the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction) interact and should interact with each other. This question is not limited to the issue of international child abduction. The difficult interaction, sometimes even conflict, between international legal regimes is a known problem. It can be addressed by seeking a hierarchy between the legal regimes, i.e. that human rights law must prevail over other areas of law or that human rights law must be seen as supportive rather than dominant. However, the hypothesis of this research is that reconciliation should be sought rather than hierarchy. The research envisaged by BECAREFUL will focus on seeking such reconciliation in the issue area of international child abduction. The researcher will investigate case law of two supranational courts, representing the different fields of law (the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU) as well as national courts of six countries. The investigation will seek to establish how these courts combine the strict return rules of the Hague Convention with the best interests of the individual child as formulated by the Children's Rights Convention. This will be done through content analysis with the aid of NVIVO software. The outcome of the research will be used to draw conclusions not only for the issue area but also for the bigger debate of the interaction between international legal frameworks.

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  • Research Project

Informed Choices in Cross-Border Enforcement (IC2BE). 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

Objectives: the efficient recovery of debts in cross-border cases is universally recognized as being of vital importance. The EU has passed Regulations on the European Enforcement Order (EEO; 805/2004), the European Payment Order (EPO; 1896/2006), the Small Claims Procedure (ESCP; 861/2007), and the European Account Preservation Order (EAPO; 655/2014), all of which are optional for claimants. The project aims at analysing how practitioners actually choose between those instruments, at disseminating knowledge about their application, and at raising awareness among practitioners.

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  • Research Project

The Voice Of the Child in international child abductions in Europe (VOICE). 01/09/2017 - 31/08/2019

Abstract

General objective: assuring a child-friendly opportunity for children to be heard in cases of international child abductions and cross-border family conflict. The project examines case law of Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, as well as of the Euroepan Court of Human Rights and the european Court of Justice.

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  • Research Project

Ensuring the well-being of children in judicial cooperation in cases of international child abduction. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

In this project, quantitative data will be collected among parents of a child that was internationally abducted. This quantitative data collection is financed by the European Commission and consists of a collaboration between Child Focus (Belgium), the Dutch Centrum Internationale Kinderontvoering (Centrum IKO, the Netherlands), and the Centre Français de Protection de l'Enfance - Enfants Disparus (CFPE, France), Missing Children Europe (MCE, the European umbrella organization for missing children) and the University of Antwerp. Data will be collected in the period September-October 2016 and form a population-based source of information on socio-demographic, individual, familial and social characteristics of abducting and left-behind parents and their children. Furthermore, qualitative interviews will be conducted among adolescents that were abducted.

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  • Research Project

Comparative research parenting authority. 15/01/2015 - 01/07/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the client. UA provides the client research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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  • Research Project

Cross-Border Litigation in Europe: Private International Law Legislative Framework, National Courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand EU. UA provides EU research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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  • Research Project

Expertise Sessions for the Centre for International Private Law. 01/08/2014 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

This project represents a formal service agreement between UA and on the other hand Kruispunt Migratie-Integratie vzw. UA provides Kruispunt Migratie-Integratie vzw research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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  • Research Project

Expertise sessions for the project of Private International Law. 30/04/2012 - 30/06/2012

Abstract

This project represents a formal service agreement between UA and on the other hand Kruispunt Migratie-Integratie vzw. UA provides Kruispunt Migratie-Integratie vzw research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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  • Research Project

Opportunities and implications of the ratification by Belgium of the UNIDROIT '95 Convention on stolen and illegally exported cultural objects. 12/12/2011 - 12/10/2012

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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  • Research Project

Private international law: the border between european and national rules 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

The purpose of this project is to continue my research on the exact delimitation between European and national rules of private international law (PIL). This was the topic of my PhD thesis (2005). Since that time, questions concerning the relation between European and national rules have remained pertinent, even increasingly so. In the first place I would like to collect Belgian case law in which EU legislation on private international law is applied, and assemble this in a database. In the first phase it would be preferable to keep the database internal, and it can be made public at a later stage. In 2003 the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven had set up a website to make public Belgian case law in which European PIL rules were applied. At that time I was working as a teaching and research assistant at that University. The current Institute of Private International Law has however decided to no longer maintain the database, and to terminate the registration of the domain name. They are prepared to transfer the domain name to me. It seems desirable at this stage to update and expand the database. Belgium has no all-encompassing central database containing (published and unpublished) case law, while other countries do have such an instrument. The setting up of a database containing PIL case law will be useful for practicing lawyers and for academic researchers in Belgium and abroad. The addition of English summaries will make the case law accessible to a larger public. The database will then be able to contribute to the uniform interpretation of the European legal instruments: the process of making PIL rules uniform in the EU is undeniably linked to the correct and uniform application of those rules in practice (eg by courts). For the collection of the case law and the input in the database, it is necessary to call upon the assistance of job students. Besides the database, I would like to attend to a conference on PIL in April 2011 (and possibly also other conferences) and to buy books relevant for my research.

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  • Research Project