Dr Jacco Bomhoff

Dr Jacco Bomhoff

Associate Professor of Law

Department of Law

Room No
New Academic Building 6.29
Key Expertise

About me

Please note: Dr Bomhoff is on leave during Michaelmas Term 2019

Jacco is an Associate Professor of Law. Before coming to the LSE in 2008 he taught at the Faculty of Law of Leiden University, in The Netherlands. His publications include a monograph on ‘Balancing Constitutional Rights: The Origins and Meanings of Postwar Legal Discourse’ (Cambridge, 2013) and the edited collection ‘Practice and Theory in Comparative Law’ Cambridge, 2012, with Maurice Adams). In 2013-2014 he was a Global Law School Visiting Professor at KU Leuven University in Belgium. In the spring of 2016 he is a Distinguished Visitor at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law.

Administrative support: Michelle Henriksen

Research interests

My main fields of interest are comparative law and the conflict of laws. 

In comparative law, I am interested in how abstract jurisprudential ideas, like ‘proportionality’, ‘commensurability, or ‘formality’, are understood by legal actors at different times and in different places. In particular, I study the different ways in which local actors may believe in and commit to such ideas and the legal practices that they animate (or not, of course). This type of work is sometimes called ‘comparative jurisprudence’, and it draws on fields like intellectual history and anthropology. 

In relation to conflict of laws - also known as private international law - I am interested in the relationship between this body of law and constitutional theory, especially in the context of different contemporary forms of (private) transnational legal ordering.



The Double-Facing Constitution: Legal Externalities and the Reshaping of Constitutional Order (Cambridge, 2019) - ed. with Thomas Poole and David Dyzenhaus 



Balancing Constitutional Rights: The Origins and Meanings of Postwar Legal Discourse (Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law) (Cambridge University Press 2013); awarded a Peter Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship (Joint Second Prize, 2015); paperback edition, 2015

The language of balancing is pervasive in constitutional rights jurisprudence around the world. In this book, Jacco Bomhoff offers a comparative and historical account of the origins and meanings of this talismanic form of language, and of the legal discourse to which it is central. Contemporary discussion has tended to see the increasing use of balancing as the manifestation of a globalization of constitutional law. This book is the first to argue that 'balancing' has always meant radically different things in different settings. Bomhoff uses detailed case studies of early post-war US and German constitutional jurisprudence to show that the same unique language expresses both biting scepticism and profound faith in law and adjudication, and both deep pessimism and high aspirations for constitutional rights. An understanding of these radically different meanings is essential for any evaluation of the work of constitutional courts today.

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Practice and Theory in Comparative Law (edited with Maurice Adams) (Cambridge University Press 2012)

What does doing comparative law involve? Too often, explicit methodological discussions in comparative law remain limited to the level of pure theory, neglecting to test out critiques and recommendations on concrete issues. This book bridges this gap between theory and practice in comparative legal studies. Essays by both established and younger comparative lawyers reflect on the methodological challenges arising in their own work and in work in their area. Taken together, they offer clear recommendations for, and critical reflection on, a wide range of innovative comparative research projects.

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The Legitimacy of Highest Courts' Rulings (TMC Asser Press: The Hague 2009) (ed. with N. Huls, M. Adams)

In his Judicial Deliberations: A Comparative Analysis of Judicial Transparency and Legitimacy (Oxford 2004), the American-French scholar Mitchel Lasser has, among other things, tried to re-establish the strengths of the French cassation system. Using Lasser's approach and ideas as a starting point, in this book judges from the French, Belgian and Dutch Cassation Courts reflect on the challenges that their Courts are facing. The book also contains a series of contributions from scholars analyzing the wide range of factors that determine the legitimacy of these courts'decisions. Specific attention is given to the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights that has been so important for the moral legitimacy of the European legal order, and to courts in post-communist systems, which face many similar challenges and are even under greater pressure to modernize. The book is a multidisciplinary contribution to the international debate about the legitimacy of the highest courts'rulings as well as the concept of judicial leadership and offers a new perspective in the USA versus Europe debate. It is recommended reading for academics, judges, policymakers, political scientists and students.

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Judicial Discretion in European Law on Conflicts of Jurisdiction (Sdu Publishers: The Hague 2005)