Josse G. Klijnsma

Winner Dissertation Prize 2015

Contract Law as Fairness. A Rawlsian Perspective on the Position of SMEs in European contract law.

Supervisor: professor M.W. Hesselink
Co-supervisor: dr C. Mak
Nomination: University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Law

Report of the Selection Committee

Contract law protects consumers in all sorts of ways, because they find themselves in a vulnerable position vis-à-vis the counterparty. A company can no longer refer to the “small print” in an agreement, even though a customer may have signed it. Consumer protection does not apply to natural persons, however. How fair is that if one considers that many companies are very small and differ very little from consumers? Drawing on the well-known theories of American philosopher John Rawls, the author reviews this distinction, which also exists in European contract law. Josse Klijnsma has devised a model to regulate the position of small and medium-sized enterprises in a fair way. A refreshing book that brings together private law and the philosophy of law – and that is an uncommon combination. The book is written in a concise, lucid style, and that is – in the opinion of the committee – notable for a legal thesis.