Written by Christiane von Bary, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
The 8th edition of the biannual Journal of Private International Law Conference took place at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich from 12-14 September 2019, organized by Professor Anatol Dutta in cooperation with the editors of the journal, Professor Paul Beaumont and Professor Jonathan Harris.
The call for papers by the organisers resulted in a record number of applications and thus papers presented. More than 190 participants registered for the conference and delivered 114 papers over the course of the three days in Munich. With participants coming from around 50 jurisdictions ranging from Australia to Venezuela, all speakers had a truly international audience and were able to benefit from questions, insights and remarks by a very diverse group of private international law scholars. The diversity of the participants and speakers not only covered a wide variety of geographical backgrounds but also every stage of the academic career from doctoral candidate to senior professor. Due to the unexpectedly high interest in the conference, sadly some people who were interested could not attend due to space constraints – even despite a video transmission of the plenary session.
On Thursday and Saturday, a total of 28 parallel sessions took place. Blocks of seven alternative sessions happened at the same time and participants where free to choose according to their interests. This was a challenge not only for the participants who were spoilt for choice but also from an organisational perspective. In each session, up to four speakers presented their papers on related topics. There were several panels on topics related to jurisdiction, judgments or family law but also on subjects like child abduction, judicial cooperation, arbitration, technology or CSR. The presentations were all followed by lively and fruitful discussions each chaired by an expert in the relevant field. The animated debate often continued in the cafeteria and the sunny courtyard during the coffee breaks. Two speakers who were unable to attend in person even had the chance to participate via video call and answered questions remotely.
The plenary sessions on Friday allowed for a larger audience for four panels. Particularly interesting and thought provoking was the session on “Women and Private International Law” with Professors Roxana Banu, Mary Keyes, Horatia Muir Watt, Yuko Nishitani and Marta Pertegás Sender. Their contributions focussed on gender issues in private international law and provided a broad variety of perspectives in an area that has – so far – been largely neglected by the private international law community. The very existence of this community was addressed by Professor Ralf Michaels and Dr. Veronica Ruiz Abou-Nigm who spoke about what the heart of the endeavour of private international law is. During the days in Munich, which were not only filled by intellectual debate but also by colleagues and friends (re)connecting, the existence of an international community of private international law felt very much real.
The conference website (https://jprivintl2019.de/) will remain active and offers an overview of all papers as well as abstracts from many speakers. Finally, it was revealed that the next Journal of Private International Law Conference will take place in Singapore in 2021, organised by Professor Adeline Chong, which will be the first time the private international law community gathers in Asia.