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PhD DEFENCE: Marco IN 'T VELD, "Commerce and Customs in the Courts: A Comparison Between Mercantile Customs, Jurisdictions and Institutions in Amsterdam and Lyon During the Early 18th Century"

Aug. 8, 2022

The defense will take place in the Promotion Hall (Building D) (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) at 14:00 on Monday 29 August 2022. The event will be broadcast on Teams, but physical presence is prefered.

Drs. Cornelis Marinus (Marco) in 't Veld will defend his PhD Dissertation in law entitled Commerce and Customs in the Courts: A Comparison Between Mercantile Customs, Jurisdictions and Institutions in Amsterdam and Lyon During the Early 18th Century (supervisor: Prof. dr. Dave De ruysscher).

Drs. in 't Veld studied Law (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and was active as PhD-researcher on the FWO Fundamental Research Project Cataloguing Customs of Trade: Looking Behind the Labels (Amsterdam and Lyon, 1700-1730) at our research centre. He currently works as lecturer at Tilburg Law School.


  • Prof. dr. Stefania Gialdroni (Università di Padova)
  • Prof. dr. David Deroussin (Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3)
  • Prof. dr. Niels Van Dijk (VUB/CORE)
  • Prof. dr. Dave De ruysscher (VUB/CORE - Tilburg Law School/supervisor)
  • Prof. dr. Frederik Dhondt (VUB/CORE - president)


This dissertation has first compared the economies of both Amsterdam and Lyon. These economies were clearly different, although there were also similarities. Both cities witnessed a rise of commission trade leading to an upscaling of the use of the necessary financial instruments (like the bill of exchange). Commercial activities in both cities were supported by a good infrastructure and a wide base of additional services. These services, rather than cross-border customary law, also helped to overcome the legal differences between cities. Inspired by the Romano-canonical procedure, procedural styles at both the Conservation and the Bench of Alderman were well equipped to deal with cross-border legal issues since they allowed for the use of proctors, lawyers, external experts, and arbitrators. One could thus argue that procedures were ‘juridified’ and did not leave much room for the application of usages and customs. 

However, on the basis of the analyzed documents and the contemporary literature it is possible to distinguish between three levels in which customs and customary law occurred or was formed. In the early modern era there existed a patchwork of mercantile law that consisted of different formal sources including customs, homologated customs, or customs put into legislation. At the same time however, despite their relatively sophisticated procedural styles, many cases were simply decided on a factual basis. These facts however were framed by the parties legal representatives (i.e. proctors) in order to convince the judges. This framing included the instrumental use of mores and good faith – which were both closely connected to the conviction part of normative custom. Moreover, this process of custom-formation was not restricted to the court. Other institutions, like perhaps most prominently the weighing houses, also witnessed this custom-formation under the hands of their officials – thus stressing the importance of not only private but also public institutions.

Source: https://vubcore.blogspot.com/2022/07/phd-defense-marco-in-t-veld-commerce.html (8.8.2022)