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CEENELS 2022 in Timișoara – Call for Papers is open!

Emerging Concepts in Legal Studies and the Blurring of the Public-Private Distinction

6th CEENELS Conference
28-29 June, Timișoara, Romania

No discipline can resist without innovation, be it conceptual or epistemic. While law remains in many academic corners an epistemically closed field (indeed, one researches law in one particular manner only, that is doctrinal), it nonetheless constantly renews itself conceptually either by putting forth new concepts that specifically belong to law or by borrowing concepts from other disciplines. Many of these conceptual innovations account for the existence of new realities such as artificial intelligence, the rise of non-state actors in regulating behaviour, pandemics or the rise of populism. Others attest to a process of rethinking in relation to old legal institutions / phenomena (see the ideas associated with the new constitutionalism). Some of these are fashioned in response to local problems and remain within their initial national boundaries while others spring in one jurisdiction (or in the work of one scholar) but travel long distances claiming some sort of universal relevance.
In some cases, new vocabularies evolve to such an extent that they will eventually form a whole new specialization such as animal studies or law and regulation.
The conference invites participants, in the first place, to explore the significance of one such emerging concept (from whatever branch of law). Specifically, the authors’ contribution will explain why that concept is new, how it has changed the field (or a sub-field) of law, what are its practical or theoretical consequences, whether it is deemed to be useful or potentially dangerous or how else it is likely to impact our thinking about law. Participants are encouraged to explicitly state in the title of their presentation what specific concept they will analyse.
The emergence of new concepts often means the blurring of long-established distinctions (fact vs. law, public vs. private, objective vs. subjective, etc.). Thus, the conference seeks, in the second place, to discuss those instances where such a calling into question took place. In particular, we are interested in (re)discussing the public-private law distinction.
The public-private distinction has been a structuring element of our debates about social life for over a century. It essentially relies on a conception of the public sphere as the realm of politics, authority and debate about societal values, in opposition to the private sphere – the realm of individual freedoms, privacy and non-interference of the state. While this categorisation is manifested in a number of disciplines under various forms (from sociology and economy to history and information sciences), it has also structured legal analysis in both civil law and common law systems.
Under the conventional characterization, public law regulates the interactions between the state and its citizens (through constitutional, administrative, tax and criminal law), while private law rules govern the relations between non-state actors – natural persons, corporations or other entities – and are organised in subcategories such as the law of obligations, persons and property.

With the increasing diversification of the modes and environments of social interaction, the traditional public-private divide still holds a lot of appeal in guiding law-making processes at national level. At the same time, challenges such as globalisation, the permeation of information technology in almost all aspects of societal life, the potentially systemic-altering consequences of certain economic interactions between private corporations (as well as between corporations and consumers) – all raise questions as to the important aspects of reality that the public-private law distinction might ignore or obscure. As a result, hybrid fields of law and new concepts emerge in order to structure legal knowledge in these boundary areas of “publicization” of non-state activity or privatisation of governance.
Against this backdrop, some scholars argue in favour of abandoning the distinction as artificial, maintaining it no longer serves to represent – and regulate – reality when state and non-state actors are faced with similar risks or asked to perform similar tasks. Duncan Kennedy was reflecting, as early as the 1980s, upon the decline of the public-private divide, identifying six stages of this process (with the development of intermediate terms as the second phase). A different strain of scholarship argues in favour of reviving the distinction and claiming, for instance, that its explicit adoption in certain areas of European law might lead to better law-making by supranational institutions and increase the rules’ ability to achieve policy goals.
The 2022 CEENELS conference invites participants to revisit this traditional distinction and explore the emerging legal concepts resulting from the tensions brought about by changes in society and in the interactions between state and non-state actors, at both domestic and international levels.

Contributions could address the following issues, as well as other adjacent topics:

  • How has the public-private distinction evolved and how is it reflected in law?
  • Does the evolution of this distinction mirror the changes in social interactions or is it no longer a useful instrument to structure legal knowledge?
  • What are the criteria informing the public-private law distinction? Have they changed over time or are they perpetual?
  • What are the fields straddling the public-private law divide and how can they best be characterised? Are they mixed, “intermediate” fields or should they be regarded as autonomous, external to these categories?
  • What are the new or emerging legal concepts designed to operate in such boundary fields? What are some of their defining features?
  • To what extent are new legal concepts inspired/borrowed from other disciplines?
  • What are the consequences of the constitutionalization of private law?

Full Call for Papers in PDF format can be found here.


Please submit your abstracts of up to 500 words through the EasyChair facility.
Deadline for submissions: 15 June 2022
Notification of acceptance: 18 June 2022

Organising Team

Lucian Bojin, Sorina Doroga, Alexandra Mercescu – West University of Timisoara

About the host of the 6th CEENELS conference

The West University of Timișoara is one of the largest public institutions of higher education in Romania and it regularly hosts national and international conferences. In particular, the Faculty of Law – which celebrates this year its 30th anniversary – has an already established tradition in proposing high standard academic events. In contrast to other law faculties in Romania, the Faculty of Law in Timișoara tries to offer, besides the classical professional training, a critically minded approach to law supposed to equip its graduates with the appropriate skills for future civic engagement and democratic reflection, as it is proved by the series of workshops promoting interdisciplinary thinking and socio-legal methods that the faculty has carried out over the years. The hosting of the CEENELS in Timișoara would thus come to enhance the Faculty’s endeavours and, moreover, it would significantly contribute to the strengthening of the academic networks in the CEE region.


Call for papers: CEENELS 2020 Conference in Debrecen

Re-thinking legal institutions in Central and Eastern Europe

The CEENELS 2020 Conference hosted by the University of Debrecen, Hungary, 27-28 June 2020. Deadline for submitting abstracts: 20 March 2020.

The transformation across Central and Eastern Europe from state socialism to democratic capitalism inaugurated in 1989 and accomplished by the end of the 1990s was, to a large extent, a transformation from a Party-run state to a state under the rule of law. However, the speed of development did not allow for an organic development of legal institutions but rather required a fast-forward move to a mature system of checks and balances. At that time, it was a commonly shared assumption that transitional democracies in this region have to follow Western patterns in creating the legal framework of the new social system (Bugarič 2015). Today, many of these hastily copied institutions are under stress, leading to their hollowing out or even radical transformation.

Private law institutions that are based on good faith and honesty of parties have been abused by irresponsible and greedy entrepreneurs (Skąpska 2009:289). The liberal institutions of public law could not provide young democracies with the expected protection against the pressure stemming from populist movements (Mouffe 2018:1). Besides that, recent developments such as the increasing impact of social media, artificial intelligence and climate change on different regulatory fields also challenged the effectiveness of traditional legal institutions.

While it is probably not up to lawyers to change the trajectories of these developments, we can, nonetheless, elaborate on our local strategies of reacting to it. It requires the legal community to reflect upon the values it wishes to defend and priorities it wishes to set. During this work, the historical context of right-wing authoritarianism in the 1930s and state-socialist authoritarianism after World War II cannot be overlooked either, as they have jointly shaped not only the mentality of our societies, but also of our legal communities.

The aim of our conference will be to reflect on these changes and possible strategies of reacting to them from the perspective of legal scholarship. We invite papers from all fields of legal studies, including legal theorists, sociologists of law, philosophers of law, constitutionalists, legal historians and specialists in legal dogmatics of private and public law alike. The questions that could be addressed include the following:

  • is there a “third way” for Central Europe between authoritarian regimes and Western-type democracies? is there a way to preserve democracy other than implementing Western legal and political institutions? are Western institutions of constitutional justice, rule of law and judicial independence merely foreign imports, which have been rejected in Central Europe, or are they part of our legal heritage too?
  • are the reasons behind the rule of law crisis attributable, at least partly, to their weak social legitimacy? have the Central European constitutional courts, at the time when they enjoyed immense law-making powers, use those powers to the benefit of vulnerable social groups (workers, pensioners, unemployed), or rather promoted the agenda of neoliberalism?
  • are the perspectives of critical legal theory of a Marxist pedigree, such as represented by Stanisław Ehrlich or Jarosław Ładosz, or the idea of “green new deal” sources of inspiration for the changes in Central Europe?
  • how can we re-shape our private and public law institutions in order to answer the current political technological and environmental challenges?
  • is there a place for a left populism or green new deal movements in Central Europe? if so, should them side with liberals in defending the rule of law and other liberal institutions?
  • can the political processes in Central Europe be explained from the post-colonial (after the collapse of the Soviet Union) and neo-colonial (concerning the EU requirements in the process of integration) perspectives?

Keynote Speakers

Professor Jiří Přibáň (University of Cardiff) and Professor Andreas Funke (University of Erlangen–Nuremberg).


Please submit your abstracts of up to 500 words through the EasyChair facility:

Deadline for submissions: 20 March 2020

Notification of acceptance: 30 March 2020

Conference fee

The conference fee of EUR 50 covers conference materials, coffee breaks and lunches on both days of the Conference and the official conference dinner. The conference fee should be paid no later than 30 April 2020 by bank transfer. Detailed instructions for the payment will be provided to the selected participants with the notification of acceptance. The informal pre-conference drinks are at the participants’ own expense. Please note that the organizers are unable to offer any scholarships to cover the costs of tickets and hotels.

Organising team

Mátyás Bencze and Krisztina Ficsor (University of Debrecen, conveners), Rafał Mańko (University of Amsterdam), Piotr Eckhardt (CLEST, Jagiellonian University in Kraków, secretary of CEENELS).

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions:

About the University of Debrecen

The University of Debrecen was founded in 1538 as the Calvinist College of Debrecen, known since 1912 as the Royal University of Debrecen and since 1921 as István Tisza University. In 1949 the communist government split the University into smaller academies which were reunited in 2000. The traditions of the Faculty of Law date back more than 200 years, and the currently existing faculty was reopened in 1996 following a 50-year interval. Today, the faculty offers undegraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as a PhD programme. The Faculty of Law has has nearly 2000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. Its doctoral school place emphasis on interdisciplinary research and international cooperation in various fields of law.



CEE forum conference in Bratislava

open call for papers

CEE Forum Conference in Bratislava

Central and Eastern Europe as a Double Periphery? 

25-26 April 2019

Professor Tomáš Gábriš is organising the 2019 CEE Forum conference, which is to take place at the premises of the Comenius University in Bratislava, Faculty of Law (, on 25-26 April, 2019. The overarching topic of the conference is going to be the “Central and Eastern Europe as a Double Periphery?” Suggested subtopics have been specified further within the Call for Papers. Additional


Photo by Miroslav Petrasko - Creative Commons License.

Photo by Miroslav Petrasko – Creative Commons License.


“open session” will be included. For more information, please visit the official website of the CEE Forum:, or see the attached CfP. The registration period ends on December 31, 2018, shortly thereafter the organisers shall confirm the accepted papers and will send out additional information on the payment of the conference fee (EUR 60,-). Accommodation and travel costs are to be borne by the conference participants themselves. 

Please, submit your registrations in the form of an email with your proposed topic and an abstract of 500-700 words, to be sent to:
Here is a link to the call for papers in PDF. 

CEENELS 2018 Conference – University of Latvia, Riga

The CEENELS 2018 conference took place in Riga, Latvia on 11-13 January 2018. The topic was “Legal Traditions and Legal Identities in Central and Eastern Europe”. 

The conference was attended by almost 70 scholars from 12 countries: Belarus, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia,  Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

1st Plenary Session (11 January 2018)

Plenary lecture by Prof.  Adam Sulikowski (University of Wrocław)

Photo by Alex Kravchuk

Plenary lecture by Doc. Martin Škop (Masaryk University at Brno)

Photo by Alex Kravchuk

Plenary lecture by Doc. Tomas Berkmanas (Vytautas Magnas University at Kaunas)

Photo by Alex Kravchuk

Plenary lecture by Dr. Cosmin Sebastian Cercel (University of Nottingham)

Photo by Alex Kravchuk

2nd Plenary Session

Official address by the Dean of the Law Faculty of University of Latvia, Prof.  Anita Rodiņa

Photo by Alex Kravchuk

Plenary lecture by Prof. Sanita Osipova

Photo by Alex Kravchuk

Plenary lecture by Prof. Manuel Guţan

Photo by Alex Kravchuk

Plenary lecture byProfessor  Piotr Fiedorczyk (University of Białystok)

Plenary lecture by Professor Zdenek Kuhn

Photo by Alex Kravchuk

3rd Plenary session


Plenary lecture by Professor Tomasz Bekrycht (University of Łódź)

4th Plenary Session

Plenary lecture by Prof. Piotr Niczyporuk (University of Białystok)

Plenary lecture by Doc. Marko Novak

Parallel sessions 


Social events

Pre-conference drinks. (Photo R. Mańko)

Photo A. Kravchuk

Photo A. Kravchuk

Photo A. Kravchuk

Photo A. Kravchuk

Photo A. Kravchuk

Prof. Adam Sulikowski and Mgr. Dominik Góra 

Dr. Lucian Bojin 



Jurisprudence in Central and Eastern Europe: Work in Progress 2017

We would like to invite you to the annual conference of our partner organisation specialized in the therory of law:  The Central and Eastern European Network of Jurisprudence (CEENJ) This year’s conference is entitled “Jurisprudence in Central and Eastern Europe: Work in Progress 2017” is organized by the University of Latvia Faculty of Law with the support of the leading law firms in Latvia – COBALT, Eversheds Bitāns, FORT Legal – and Professor Kārlis Dišlers’ Foundation.

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