Multidisciplinary Observatory on the Future of Private Law

Subtitles are available.

An observatory contemplates the horizon. As proposed today, the horizon of civil law will be rich and diversified, plural and inclusive – in short, exhilarating. Under the guidance of the Center for Legal Cultures and Civil Law, this new observatory has many different vocations.

It conducts innovative, multidisciplinary and inclusive research on consent to care and assisted reproduction, emerging family structures, death and successions, the nature and place of contracts, consumer obligations the legal status of animals, the virtualization of goods and assets and corporate social responsibility.

Taking an interest in the future of private law, as the Observatory aims to do, seems indissociable from the question of the democratic future of our societies and the preservation of the rights of their lowest common denominator: the individual citizen.

This observatory plays an extremely important role, and I would even say a special one, in that its vocation is to intensify knowledge in French in the legal field, transforming legal research at the same time by innovating in the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in French, while promoting the acquisition of knowledge in a multidisciplinary environment open to the world.

The Multidisciplinary Observatory on the Future of Private Law also embodies the importance our faculty places on training up-and-coming researchers in private and civil law, by integrating undergraduate and graduate students into its activities, and by stimulating research production and early-career professors through varied and forward-looking themes that emphasize equity, diversity and inclusion.

A center is first and foremost a place where people come together, a place for collegial exchange and a place that can inspire vocations. As Professor Lacroix said earlier, an observatory means looking towards distant horizons, but it will also offer a place to look inward, and I hope that the Observatory will soon become an exceptional meeting place for all students and professors of the University of Ottawa’s Civil Law Section.

The Multidisciplinary Observatory on the Future of Private Law was launched in November 2022 at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section. It is a magnet for graduate students, both as a forum for exchange between researchers from diverse backgrounds, and because of the scientific activities held there on a regular basis. Its work is at the heart of two fundamental orientations: the circulation of legal knowledge in the French-speaking world, and the promotion of the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in legal research and transformation.

The Observatory’s activities revolve around three main questions: 1) What is the purpose of civil law in contemporary society? 2) What relationships does civil law have with other normative orders, such as the common law and aboriginal legal traditions? and 3) How is civil law different from other legal orders?

Research areas  

Three main lines of research are at the heart of the work carried out by the MOFPL during its first years of existence (2022-2025).

For the legal existence and liability research axis, in addition to the many activities organized this year as part of its scientific program, the MOFPL is proud to announce the upcoming publication of a Précis en droit de la responsabilité civile, co-edited by Mariève Lacroix and Josée Aspinall, by Éditions Yvon Blais.

In addition, Mariève Lacroix will complete the mobilization of knowledge from her research project: “La guerre des cendres”(The War of Ashes), funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for two years ($57,323). In addition to scientific articles, a Visioformation entitled “An Ethics of Decomposition” in collaboration with which will go online in fall 2023.

For the “care and the person” research axis, the MOFPL is proud to highlight the awarding of two major grants to Professor Audrey Ferron Parayre:  

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Project competition grant, $187,424 over 3 years, research title: “Exploring the effective implementation of women’s rights as a measure to prevent obstetrical and gynecological violence”.
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Gender-Based Violence Research Initiative grant (in partnership with Women and Gender Equality Canada), $411,445 over 4 years, research title: “Improving access to justice for victims of obstetrical and gynecological violence”.

For the “business and society” research axis, Professor Pascale Cornut St-Pierre continued her research project entitled “La titrisation verte entre transition écologique et financiarisation de l’économie(Green securitization between the ecological transition and the financialization of the economy), supported by a two-year grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) ($74,365). She also took advantage of her university leave to further her work on sustainable law and finance, as well as white-collar crime, and to initiate a reflection on private law and decline.

Finally, in the wake of a visit to Cameroon in 2022, Professors André Bélanger and Julie Paquin are currently working to set up a collaboration between the University of Ottawa and the Universités de Montréal (Pascale Dufour), (Pascale Dufour), Luxembourg (David Hiez and Séverine Menetry), Ngaoundéré (Diane Wagoue Tongoue, Yannick Nkoulou and Marie-Colette Nouaffo-Kengne) and Bamako (Souleymane Diarra) on the theme of the circulation of contemporary francophone civil law knowledge. A Partnership Development application to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) will be submitted in autumn 2023.

The Launch

The official launch of the MOFPL took place on November 2, 2022, at the University of Ottawa’s Civil Law Section. Under the honorary chairmanship of the Honourable Nicholas Kasirer, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the event provided an opportunity to reflect on the theme of women’s reproductive rights in private law, with contributions from Louise Langevin, professor at Université Laval’s Faculty of Law, Laurence Ricard, lawyer and doctoral student at McGill’s Faculty of Law, and Audrey Ferron Parayre, professor at the University of Ottawa’s Civil Law Section.

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