Prof Dr Jan Smits (J.M.)
Prof. dr. Jan M. Smits (1967) is Professor of Private Law at Maastricht University and Dean of the Faculty of Law. Jan Smits publishes, teaches and supervises students in the fields of (Dutch, European and comparative) private law, comparative law, legal theory and ‘law and…’ approaches. He has a special interest in the foundations of private law, questions of legal harmonisation (in particular in Europe and Asia), jurisprudence, methodology and internationalisation of law. He is an outspoken proponent of both a national and international approach towards law.
Smits’ recent publications include Five Uneasy Pieces (2020), Advanced Introduction to Private Law (2017), Contract Law: A Comparative Introduction (third edition 2021), The Mind and Method of the Legal Academic (2012), as well as contributions to the European Review of Private Law, Zeitschrift für europäisches Privatrecht and the Common Market Law Review. A complete overview of all publications (many with access to the full text) can be found at www.jansmits.eu and at https://cris.maastrichtuniversity.nl/en/persons/jan-smits.
Apart from his academic activities, Smits is a deputy judge in the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. He is also the Dutch correspondent at UNCITRAL for the Digest of Case Law on the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CLOUT). He regularly writes columns and blogs for a general audience about law and academia. In his spare time, Smits enjoys trail running.
Jan Smits is an elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). He is also a titular member of the International Academy of Comparative Law (AIDC) and an elected member of the International Academy of Commercial and Consumer Law (IACCL). Smits ranks in the top 100 of the SSRN worldwide ranking of top law authors. He is a member of the Ius Commune Research School since its founding in 1996.
Private law; contract law; tort law; comparative law; legal theory
Professional career history
Jan Smits studied law at the universities of Leiden and Poitiers (1986-1991) and defended his PhD at the University of Leiden in 1995. He then taught at the universities of Stellenbosch and Tilburg before being appointed at Maastricht University, first (1996-1999) as an associate professor and then (1999) to the newly created Chair of European Private Law. Between 1999 and 2007, he led the research groups on Contract law and on Foundations of the Ius Commune Research School. He was chair of the Faculty of Law’s Science committee from 2000-2005 and vice-dean from 2005-2007. From 2008 to 2010, he was distinguished professor of European Private Law and Comparative Law at Tilburg University. He was head of the Department of Private law and director of M-EPLI.
Smits held visiting positions at a number of institutions, including the University of Stellenbosch, Tulane Law School, Leuven University, the University of Liège, Koc University, Louisiana State University and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. In 2010-2012, he held the HiiL Chair on the Internationalisation of Law and from 2008 to 2013 he was research professor of Comparative Legal Studies in the University of Helsinki. In 2013-2014 he held the TPR Visiting Chair at the University of Ghent.