Public and Private Enforcement

Periode 4
Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid
prof. dr. J.L. Smeehuijzen
prof. dr. J.L. Smeehuijzen
Hoorcollege, Werkgroep

Doel vak

After completing the course, students will have developed the following
• the general aspects of public and private enforcement models;
• the interplay between public and private enforcement models, both in
terms of how private enforcement can provide a positive contribution
towards enforcement of the law, and how it can having an 'undermining
• the inherent tension between the goals of law enforcement and the
fundamental principles of private law; and
• the specific application of these issues to competition law

Participants should have developed views on the key issues in this area
and should be able to express those views in English, both orally and in

Inhoud vak

In Europe, traditionally "law enforcement" is regarded as a public task.
The State’s monopoly on prosecution and punishment is part of the fabric
of our constitutional state. To ensure that public authorities charged
with law enforcement are independent and unbiased, their conduct is
subject to judicial review. By contrast, private law does not typically
charge citizens with the task of enforcing the law. Within the limits of
private law, citizens are entitled to enforce their own rights for their
own benefit, not for the benefit of the general public. Furthermore, the
remedies granted to private individuals are typically focused on
compensation and/or restitution, not punishment and/or deterrence.
However, in some areas of the law there appears to be a renewed interest
in the notion of "private enforcement". Rather than ask what needs to be
done to provide individual justice to the civil claimant, some prefer to
focus on what needs to be done to deter wrongful and/or illegal conduct,
even in the context of private law disputes. In this view, private law
remedies can contribute generally to the 'enforcement' of legal
standards. This raises important and interesting questions regarding the
coexistence of – and potential overlap between – public and private
enforcement models.

An alternative way of teaching law is focusing, not on the law as such,
but on a specific societal problem. The question then is what the law
has to offer in finding a solution to that problem. This approach is
taken in the course ‘Public and Private Enforcement’. The topics and
problems we will be talking about are
- Online Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights,
- (Ab)use of Corporate Position, Use of Corporate Assets and the Duty
of Loyalty’
- Human rights and business: direct corporate accountability for human
rights violations
- Private Enforcement of Competition Law
- Public & Private Enforcement, A Company Perspective’
- introductory lecture on Public Enforcement of Competition Law. This
serves as preparation for a visit to the ACM (ACM is the supervisor
dealing with competition )






Detailed information about reading materials and the topics to be dealt
with in class will be available on Canvas.


This course is only open to students of the programme Law, Markets and

© Copyright Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
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