European Research Council

 

Project Title: A Comparative History of Insurance Law in Europe

Project Acronym: CHILE

Project Number: 647019

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Phillip Hellwege

Host Institution: Universität Augsburg

Project Duration: 1 September 2015 - 31 August 2020

EU

The project's objective

The objective of the project is to work out interactions between the national developments of insurance law in Europe, to explore the possibility of common historical roots of European insurance law, and to reassess the history of insurance law in Europe. The project does, thereby, aim at creating a historical basis for a European legal scholarship in the field of insurance law.

The state of research

Today’s state of research in the field of the history of insurance law is unsatisfactory: with the exception of maritime insurance, modern research focuses on national developments, and the history of insurance law is told differently in the different European countries. Even though modern research suggests that there have been interactions between the national developments these interactions often appear to be only footnotes to a mainly national development.

The starting points

The project takes these points of interaction as starting points for in-depth research into the history of insurance law in Europe. It is, for example, known that English life and fire insurers were present on the German market since the late 18th century and that those who, in the beginning of the 19th century, were involved in founding the first commercial life and fire insurers in Germany had been working for English insurers. What needs to be explored is what impact this had on the practice and standard contract terms of German insurers.

Reassessing the history of insurance law

The project will help to reassess the history of insurance law in Europe and it will create a historical basis for a European scholarship in the field of insurance law: the harmonization of European insurance contract law is on the agenda. Comparative historical research will help to understand the existing differences between the insurance laws in Europe.

Team Members

The three ingredients to the project

There are three ingredients to the project: (1) Phillip Hellwege will supervise in total 12 doctoral students. (2) Over the five years of the project Phillip Hellwege will organize a number of conferences each resulting in a conference volume. (3) In the end of the project Phillip Hellwege will publish a monograph on the history of insurance law in Europe.

Team Members

Dr. Michael Bachmann

Research Associate and PhD-Student (15/9/2015-30/9/2018)

Matthias Bogner

Research Associate and PhD-Student

Ervis Caja

Research Associate and PhD-Student

Antonio Di Mieri

Research Associate and PhD-Student

Katharina Doll

Research Associate and PhD-Student

Thomas Heuermann

Research Associate and PhD-Student (15/9/2015-30/9/2015)

Silvia Karmann

Research Associate and PhD-Student (1/6/2016-30/11/2018)

Veronika Leitenbacher

Research Associate and PhD-Student (1/6/2015-31/8/2019)

Dr. Sinem Ogis

Research Associate and PhD-Student (26/10/2015-31/12/2018)

Florian Siegwart

Research Associate and PhD-Student

Delphine Sirks

Research Associate and PhD-Student

Laura Zampano

Research Associate and PhD-Student (1/10/2015-31/12/2018)

Conferences

Over the five years of the project, in total five conference will be organized each resulting in a conference volume.

 

Fifth Conference: The Risk of Fire - September 2019       

The fifth and last Conference was held on 13 and 14 September 2019. It focused on a specific risk: the risk of fire. The speakers covered the historical genesis of fire insurance, its historical developments, the structure of fire insurers and the offered insurance products in the Netherlands, England, France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia and Germany. On the basis of these reflections, the speakers were able to analyse the history of fire insurance law from comparative perspectives. Prof. Dr. Phillip Hellwege welcomed at he conference Prof. Dr. Maura Fortunati and Dr. Federica Furfaro (Genoa), Prof. Dr. Jerònia Pons Pons (Seville), Dr. Sinem Ogis (former team member), Prof. Dr. David Deroussin (Lyon), and Dr. Martin Sunnqvist (Lund). Finally, three team members gave presentations covering the developments in the Netherlands, England, and Germany: Delphine Sirks, Matthias Bogner, and Ervis Caja. A conference volume will appear in 2020.

 

Privat

Fourth Conference: Providing for Widows - July 2019

The fourth conference was held on 5 and 6 July 2019. It was dedicated to the different means of providing for widows in comparative context. After the second conference had focussed on a specific financial product and the third conference with guilds on a specific institution, the fourth conference was dedicated to a specific group of beneficiaries. Prof. Dr. Geoffrey W. Clark (New York), Prof. Dr. Bram van Hofstraten and Manon Moerman (Maastrich), Dr. Martin Sunnqvist (Lund), José Antolin Nieto Sánchez and Maria del Mar Hernández Escudero (Madrid), Giovanni Ceccarelli (Parma), and Christel Chaineaud (Bordeaux) had accepted the invitations to come to Augsburg. A conference volume will appear in 2020.

 

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Third Conference: Guild Welfare and the History of Insurance Law in Europe - February 2018

The third conference was held in Augsburg on 9 and 10 February 2018. In Germany it is traditionally alleged that guild welfare played an important role in forming insurance as an institution and insurance law. In German literature it is usually alleged that insurance as an institution and insurance law has three distinct roots: guild welfare, state-run insurance schemes and maritime insurance. However, a detailed analysis of the importance of guild welfare for the development of insurance law is still missing even for Germany. In other countries guild welfare plays only a minor role in the research on the history of insurance law. The conference wanted to assess the importance of guild welfare for the development of insurance and insurance law from comparative perspective. The following countries and regions were covered: Baltic States (Anu Mänd, Tallinn), Belgiumn (Dirk Heirbaut, Ghent), Germany (Phillip Hellwege), England (Patrick Wallis, London), France (David Deroussin, Lyon), Netherlands (Maarten Prak, Utrecht), Italy (Marina Gazzini, Parma), Poland (Jakub Pokoj, Krakow), Scandinavia (Martin Sunnqvist, Lund), Spain (José Antolin Nieto Sánchez and Victoria Lopez, Madrid) and Hungary (Balázs Rigo, Budapest). A conference volume will appear in 2019.

 

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Second Conference: The Past, Present and Future of Tontines. A 17th century financial product and the development of life insurance - November 2016

The second conference was held on 11 and 12 November 2016. It was on tontines. Tontines are an investment product which was allegedly "invented" by Lorenzo Tonti in the middle of the 17th century. It is a pooled life annuity. For investors it functioned as an early form of pension scheme. Tontines existed between the 17th and 19th century across Europe. The modern German literature claims that tontines were of extraordinary importance for the development of life insurance (law), however, without substantiating this proposition. A detailed analysis of the importance of tontines is still missing. Furthermore, one result of the first conference was that tontines existed also in other European countries. That was the reason why tontines were chosen as a topic for the second conference.

 

18 external experts were present at the conference. Three further external experts were not able to attend the conference, but submitted working papers for the conference: Georges Gallais-Hamonno and Christian Rietsch (Orléans), Robin Pearson (Hull), Sophie Delbrel (Bordeaux), Maura Fortunati (Genoa), Rafael Illescas Ortiz (Madrid), Marcelo Nasser (Santiago, Chile), John Macleod (Glasgow), Kent McKeever (Columbia University), Martin Sunnquist (Lund), Boudewijn Sirks (Oxford University), Jan Halberda (Krakow), Balázs Tökey (Budapest), Tamara Korchagina (Moscow), Jerònia Pons Pons (Sevilla), Bernard Harris (Glasgow), Salvatore Mancuso (Cape Town), Moshe A. Milevsky (Toronto), Jonathan B. Forman (Oklahoma), and Jan-Hendrik Weinert (Frankfurt).

 

The developments in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, England and Scotland, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, and Russia will be covered by the conference volume. In the end of the 19th century tontines offered by U.S. life insurance companies on the European market made many European legislators to ban tontines. For that reason it was necessary to include an American paper in the conference and it was decided to include the South American perspective, too. By name (but not in substance) tontines are still in use in Africa and in Eastern Asia. For that reason Phillip Hellwege decided to invite a customary lawyer to the conference. And some American and Canadian scholars have recently argued that tontines should be reintroduced as a reaction to the current low interest phase. To give a complete picture of tontines, Phillip Hellwege decided to include this perspective in the conference, too. Finally, it was necessary to include financial historians and economic historians in the conference and in the volume.

 

Privat

First Conference: A Comparative History of Insurance Law in Europe. A research agenda - November 2015

The first conference on 6 and 7 November 2015 was on “A Comparative History of Insurance Law in Europe: A Research Agenda”. Phillip Hellwege had already proven in his research preceding the project that a comparative historical approach to insurance law is fruitful. Nevertheless, he had planned to organize a conference with scholars from different countries to fully lay out the state of research on the history of insurance law and to work out an agenda for a comparative history of insurance law in Europe. Seven external experts were present at the conference. Two further external experts had submitted a working paper for the conference. Bruno Aguilera (Madrid), Sophie Delbrel (Bordeaux), Maura Fortunati (Genoa), John Macleod (Glasgow), and Martin Sunnquist (Lund) covered the developments in Spain, France, Italy, England and Scotland, and Scandinavia. Dirk Heirbaut (Ghent) and Dave De ruysscher (Brussels) had submitted their papers on the Belgiam developments. Phillip Hellwege covered Germany and the Netherlands. Finally, Bernard Harris (Glasgow) and Jerónia Pons Pons (Sevilla) were invited to comment on the findings from the perspectives of economic history and social history. A conference volume will appear in summer 2018.

Privat

Publications

14.11.2019 | Michael Bachmann, Die französischen Lebensversicherungsbedingungen zwischen 1788 und 1880. Englischer Einfluss und autonome Entwicklung, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2019, 388 S.

Modern literature claims that English insurers have coined continental life insurance practice in the 19th century. It is thought that especially French life insurers have simply copied and translated the standardized insurance contract terms of their English competitors. However, these assertations have never been verified by an in-depth analysis of French insurance practices and conditions. Michael Bachmann analyses the development of the practices and conditions of French life insurers between 1788 and 1880. Indeed, he is able to find examples of obvious transplants, but he is also able to trace examples of autonomous French developments.

Duncker & Humblot

8.11.2019 | Sinem Ogis, The Influence of Marine Insurance Law on the Legal Development of Life and Fire Insurance in England, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2019, 244 S.

Sinem Ogis addresses in her monograph the question whether English insurance law is in its entirety rooted in marine insurance. English literature and case law indeed often assert that life and fire insurance are nothing more than offspring of marine insurance. To describe life and fire insurance law as offspring of marine insurance suggests that the legal rules and principles as developed in the context of marine insurance were simply transferred as a whole to life and fire insurance. However, it is possible that the legal development happened differently. There could rather have been a convergence of the different legal regimes. By ansering this research question, the Sinem Ogis unfolds the roots of modern insurance business in England as well as the evolution of English insurance law.

Duncker & Humblot

31.10.2018 | Phillip Hellwege, A History of Tontines in Germany. From a multi-purpose financial product to a single-purpose pension product, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2018, 188 S.

 

A tontine may be described as a pooled life annutiy. Investors buy shares, and the issuer promises to pay interest on the raised capital. The characteristic feature of tontines is that the annuities of deceased investors are shared by surviving investors. With the death of the last survivor, the issuer's obligation to pay annuities terminates and the issuer has no obligation to pay the raised capital back. Investors may use a tontine as a pension product and the issuer may use it as a means to raise capital. It is generally believed that the Italien Lorenzo Tonti (1602-1684) invented tontines and that he proposed them to Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661) in 1653.

 

Phillip Hellwege analyses the origins of tontines, their occurrence and their diverse designs in German-speaking territories from the middle of the 17th century to their decline in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Furthermore, he assesses their importance for the development of insurance (law) in Germany.

Duncker & Humblot

31.10.2018 | Phillip Hellwege (ed.), The Past, Present, and Future of Tontines. A Seventeenth Century Financial Product and the Development of Life Insurance, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2018, 413 S.

 

A tontine may be described as a pooled life annutiy. Investors buy shares, and the issuer promises to pay interest on the raised capital. The characteristic feature of tontines is that the annuities of deceased investors are shared by surviving investors. With the death of the last survivor, the issuer's obligation to pay annuities terminates and the issuer has no obligation to pay the raised capital back. Investors may use a tontine as a pension product and the issuer may use it as a means to raise capital. It is generally believed that the Italien Lorenzo Tonti (1602-1684) invented tontines and that he proposed them to Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661) in 1653.

 

The different authors analyse the origins of tontines their divers development and careers in selected countries, their importance for the development of insurance (law), their declince in the late 19th and early 20th century and their potential as a pension product of the future.

Duncker & Humblot

17.8.2018 | Phillip Hellwege (ed.), A Comparative History of Insurance Law in Europe, A Research Agenda, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2018, 253 S.

 

The history of insurance law has fallen into neglect. It is only recently that the topic has again received attention from legal historians. However, the state of research is still unsatisfactory. Foremost, there are distinct national narratives of insurance (legal) history. And these narratives give the impression of insurance (law) being developed differently in the single European countries. The present volume works out a research agenda for a comparative history of insurance law in Europe. For that purpose the contributions to this volume present the state of research in different European countries and identify possible points of interactions between the national developments of insurance law. Future research will focus on these points of interactions. The present volume is, thus, the starting point and framework for future research in the history of insurance law in Europe.

Duncker & Humblot

30.3.2016 | Phillip Hellwege, A Comparative History of Insurance Law in Europe, (2016) 56 American Journal of Legal History 66-75.

 

Issue 1/2016 has been the inaugural issue of the American Journal of Legal History under a new editorship and with Oxford University Press as new publisher. For this occasion, a number of legal historians were invited to reflect on the future of legal history. In his contribution, Phillip Hellwege outilined the project on a comparative history of insurance law in Europe.

Oxford University Press

Presentations

Presentations by Phillip Hellwege

  • Guilds and the origins of modern insurance and social security in German, Faculty of Law and Administration, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, 21.10.2019.
  • Tontines and the history of insurance law, Augsburg, 18.10.2019.
  • Die Absicherung durch Zünfte und die Geschichte des Versicherungsrechts, Augsburg, 26.7.2019.
  • Tontinen und die Geschichte des Versicherungsrechts, Juristische Gesellschaft Augsburg e.V., 25.9.2018.
  • Tontines and the History of Insurance Law, Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt, 23.4.2018.
  • Tontinen und die Geschichte des Versicherungsrechts, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Hamburg, 14.12.2017.
  • Tontines and the History of Insurance Law, Comparative Law Discussion Group, Institute of European and Comparative Law, University of Oxford, 12.10.2017.
  • Tontines and the History of Insurance Law, Edinburgh Law School, University of Edinburgh, 21.9.2017.

Presentations by Katharina Doll

  • The Evolution of Life Insurance in Italy, Conference: Risk and the Insurance Business in History, Seville, 11.6.2019.

Presentations by Silvia Karmann

  • The influence of the Guidon de la mer on early insurance contract law legislation in France, Ius Commune Conference 2018, Amsterdam, 30.11.2018.
  • The influence of the practice of marine insurance concerning the risks on the first insurance contract legislation in France, XXIV Annual Forum of Young Legal Historians, Warsaw, 16.6.2018.

Presentations by Veronika Leitenbacher

  • The historical development of insurance supervision in France, Conference: Risk and the Insurance Business in History, Seville, 11.6.2019.

Presentations by Sinem Ogis

  • Insurable Interest, the Book of Orders and the Development of the English case law on Marine, Life and Fire Insurance, Ius Commune Conference 2018, Amsterdam, 30.11.2018.
  • Comparison of Marine, Life and Fire Insurance under the Concept of Indemnification from the Sixteenth Century Onwards, XXIV Annual Forum of Young Legal Historians, Warsaw, 16.6.2018.

Presentations by Delphine Sirks

  • The development of mutual fire insurance contracts in the Netherlands, Conference: Risk and the Insurance Business in History, Sevilla, 11. Juni 2019.
  • The development of mutual fire insurance in the Zaanstreek during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Conference: 25th Annual Forum of Young Legal Historians, Brussels, 5.6. 2019.

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