Modern codification of property law and contract law. The Dutch experience

Hijma, Jacob
The former Dutch Civil Code (Burgerlijk Wetboek) became effective in the year 1838. It was largely a translation of the French Civil Code, with a number of adaptations and additions. After roughly one hundred years of service this codification, in the opinion of many, began to show signs of obsolescence. A government committee was appointed to correct the inaccuracies and to fill the gaps. At this stage, the idea was simply to develop `repair-legislation’. The committee operated slowly. This got on the nerves of one of the leading scholars – in fact: the leading scholar – of that day, E.M. Meijers, professor at the University of Leiden. Meijers published a list mentioning as much as one hundred defects of the existing Civil Code, and added that he could quite easily show another hundred shortcomings. He criticised the inertia of the committee. On the other hand, he stated that the committee really did not have much of a chance, because patrimonial law is a coherent system and it is hardly feasible to repair some isolated parts while the rest of the Code remains as it is. Meijers argued that the only sensible solution was the development of a whole new Civil Code. This idea caught on. In 1947 Meijers himself was appointed as government commissioner with the assignment to write a new Code. In all probability he could have accomplished this enormous task on his own, but unfortunately Meijers died in 1954. He was succeeded by a group of lawyers, which obviously complicated matters. Since then a lot a time has leaked away, for different reasons. It was not before the first of January of 1992, that the New Dutch Civil Code (Nieuw Burgerlijk Wetboek) (below: DCC) came into force. Even on this very moment a few parts are not ready yet, but we are getting close. The texts are accompanied by an elaborate government commentary, the total length of which amounts to one meter ​
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