Jaap Spier

Jaap Spier's picture
Sr. Global Justice Fellow

Jaap Spier (1950) graduated from Erasmus University (Rotterdam) 1973, has been attorney at the Bar of Rotterdam until 1977, lecturer of private law at Leyden University (1977 – 1981) and company lawyer, Unilever NV (1982 – 1989). In the latter capacity, he has been active in the fields of private, commercial and environmental law and financial instruments (such as bonds and swaps). In 1989 he was appointed Professor of private and commercial law, Tilburg University (1989 – 1999). In 1997 Jaap Spier was appointed Advocate-General in the Supreme Court of The Netherlands; as from 1999 he also is honorary professor at Maastricht University.

He obtained a PhD (Doctor iuris) from Leyden University 1981.

Before 1997 he served, inter alia, as board member of the Association of company lawyers (until 1989) and as deputy justice Court in the appeal of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. As from 1997 he served as chairman of the Association of Private Law (until 2005), fellow of Stias (research institute attached to the University of Stellenbosch) for two subsequent years, chairman of the editorial boards of AV&S and Bb. He currently is chairman of the Association for Liability law and the law of damages.

Jaap Spier is founder and honorary President of the European Group on Tort Law; this group has drafted and issued the Principles of European Tort Law and has published a series of books on major aspects of tort law and the law of damages; he is fellow of ECTIL (European Institute for Tort and Insurance Law), Vienna (Austria). Jaap is also co founder (with Prof. Thomas Pogge) of an expert group working on climate change principles (this group has issued the Oslo Principles) and its successor, working on reduction obligations of enterprises/legal entities. He is member of the IBA working group on a Model Statute on Climate Change Remedies.

In his professional career he has been working in the field of and has widely published about liability, insurance, environmental and European tort law. Key topics: insurability of liability; keeping the floodgates shut; causation, in particular proportional liability and damages.

Since 2000 his focus has shifted to sustainability issues, in particular climate change. Jaap Spier is author and (co-)editor of 26 books and hundreds of articles and case notes on tort law, insurance law and private law; since 2000 primarily on issues in the realm of sustainable development and climate change. Most extensive recent publications: Shaping the law for global crises, Eleven Publishing (2012) and Climate Change Remedies (2014), Eleven Publishing (edited with Ulrich Magnus; personal contribution p. 1-120).

He has delivered lectures and presentation at, inter alia, Beijing, Wuhan, Qindao, Shanghai and Harbin (China); Jakarta and Denpasar (Indonesia); Ulan Bator (Mongolia); Tokyo and Kyoto (Japan); Athens (Greece); Lyon (France), Ghent (Belgium), Hamburg and Munich (Germany), Geneva and Lausanne (Switzerland), Uppsala and Tälberg (Sweden). Vienna and Graz (Austria), London and Cambridge (UK), Girona and Santiago de Compostella (Spain), Coimbra (Portugal), Stellenbosch, Pretoria and Johannesburg (South Africa), Yale (US), Prague (Czech Republic) and Curacao (Dutch Antilles).

Most recently, Jaap Spier has received a High Royal Honour upon his retirement from the High Court in the Netherlands. This acknowledges his many contributions, including his work towards the Oslo Principles on Global Climate Obligations. For more information, see the news section of this website and the Dutch language news piece provided by the University of Maastricht.