Postdoctoral researcher VIDI project

The Amsterdam Law School  is offering a position for a postdoctoral researcher in the NWO-funded project ‘Judges in Utopia: Judicial law-making in European Private Law’, coordinated by prof. Chantal Mak. 
Political-philosophical calls for ‘more Europe ...

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Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 uur
€ 2588 - € 4757 per maand


The Amsterdam Law School is offering a position for a postdoctoral researcher in the NWO-funded project ‘Judges in Utopia: Judicial law-making in European Private Law’, coordinated by prof. Chantal Mak.

Political-philosophical calls for ‘more Europe’ as a response to the economic crisis reveal the lack of civic solidarity underlying the project of European integration. Echoes of this debate inform the judicial application of the rules facilitating market integration, most importantly rules of private law (contracts, property, liability). The concept of social justice endorsed at EU level continues to significantly diverge from national concepts. The interplay of ideas of justice has not yet resulted in a lasting constitutional settlement that is able to reconcile conceptions of the ‘common good’ pursued in European society. Consequently, judges struggle to align national social rights with European market freedoms in cases concerning private-legal transactions.

While the analysis of the ‘social deficit’ in European private law has long followed a critical, deconstructive approach, this project takes a constructive turn. It aims at developing a (partial) normative theory of judicial rulemaking for the field of European private law. First, it analyses the implications of theories of European constitutionalism and philosophical theories of deliberation for judicial reasoning in this area. The focus lies on the potential of fundamental rights to deliberate value-choices in judicial rulemaking in the field of private law. Within this general framework, in-depth studies will be conducted of: (i) the interplay between principles of law in the multi-level order of the EU and its Member States, and (ii) the guaranteeing of effective remedies on the interface of EU and national private laws. Combined with the continuous input of an Expert Group, these studies will feed into the elaboration of a normative theory that (a) reconceptualises the role of judges in today’s Europe, especially in their relation to the legislature, and (b) provides them with methodological guidance for the identification and integration of views on the ‘common good’ in the resolution of private legal disputes.

This project investigates the evolution of judicial reasoning in domestic and European case law in private legal matters engaging legal principles. More specifically, it addresses the question how national judges and the CJEU should approach ‘hard cases’ of a private legal nature that receive different answers in the laws of the Member States.


The candidate:

  • has completed a PhD degree at start of the employment;
  • has demonstrable research interest in European private law and, ideally, also its theory;
  • will, ideally, also have some knowledge of European public law;
  • has excellent command of English (written and spoken);
  • has an interest in cross-disciplinary research and the ability to work in a team.


The postdoctoral researcher’s appointment will be originally for the period of one year, with a possibility for prolongation. The appointment preferably commences on 1 January 2018. Extension of the contract for another year is subject to satisfactory performance after the first year. The gross full-time monthly salary will be in accordance with the salary scales for postdoctoral researchers at Dutch universities, scales 10 and 11, ranging from €2,588 up to €4,757. Secondary benefits at Dutch universities are attractive and include 8% holiday pay and an 8.3% end of year bonus. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable.

Additional information

To discuss the position informally, please contact:

Applicants are asked to submit a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words, which should include a section on methodology and fits within the broader conceptual theme of the project. They are invited to formulate an innovative specific research question (or hypothesis) on the abovementioned topic of principled reasoning in European Private Law cases. We are open not only to descriptive and analytical questions but, in particular, also to normative questions.

The closing date for receipt of completed applications including the research proposal is 20 October 2017.

To apply please submit the following items in Word or PDF format electronically to, attn. prof. Chantal Mak:

  • cover letter;
  • CV;
  • contact details of 2 referees;
  • research proposal;
  • proof of your Master's and PhD degrees, including grade transcripts. If you have not completed your PhD degree at the time of application, please provide a statement from your supervisor confirming the expected date of completion.


With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.

Amsterdam Law School

The Amsterdam Law School is strongly engaged in society and has an international orientation, which is reflected in its research and education activities. The School offers three Bachelor's programmes and a number of Master's programmes, two of which are taught exclusively in English (i.e. International and European Law and European Private Law). With its 3,500 students and 375 staff members, it is one of the largest law schools in the Netherlands. The Amsterdam Law School is located in the centre of Amsterdam.
The NWO-funded project ‘Judges in Utopia: Judicial law-making in European Private Law’, coordinated by prof. Chantal Mak, is conducted within the framework of the Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL), one of the centres of excellence of the University of Amsterdam. The CSECL aims to promote high-quality research and education on European contract law. Its research programme focuses on the interplay between the European, national and international laws of contract.

The postdoctoral researcher will benefit from committed research supervision by the project leader as well as interaction with other researchers in the lively and supportive intellectual environment of the CSECL, a centre of excellence at the University of Amsterdam’s Law School, which has since long enjoyed a strong, international reputation for critical innovation in legal research.


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