ELI Decennial Celebration: Grand Opening of ELI’s 10th Anniversary Celebration


Christiane Wendehorst, ELI President, Reinhard Zimmermann, Speaker of the ELI Senate, and Lance Liebman, former Director of the American Law Institute, welcomed attendees to a celebration dedicated to ELI’s development and contribution to the improvement of the law.

Christiane Wendehorst opened the Decennial Celebration by reminiscing about ELI’s founding on 1 June 2011 and the common vision of jurists from Europe and beyond in establishing a European Law Institute. 

It was on 1 June 2011 – so exactly 10 years ago – that the European Law Institute was officially established by royal decree of the Belgian King as an International Association under Belgian Law. It was likewise on 1 June 2011 that a splendid Inaugural Congress was held in Paris convening hundreds of colleagues with a common vision: Establishing a platform for a more vigorous European legal community. A community of lawyers of all vocational backgrounds – judges, legal practitioners, academics, and many others – from all over Europe and beyond with an aim to debating key legal issues and raising their voice in the quest for improving the law or its application and enforcement for the benefit of everyone.’ Christiane Wendehorst

ELI’s founding story was a long and challenging road, shaped by both common ideas and cooperation as well as competition. Over the course of the last ten years, ELI has come a long way: ELI takes an active role in shaping the law by providing a toolbox and source of inspiration for EU Institutions and has built a strong legal community sharing one vision. You can read more about ELI’s Founding Story here.

Later, attendees heard from Reinhard Zimmermann, who played a key role in the establishment of ELI. He elaborated on the major steps towards the establishment of the ELI, from a Conference in Brussels in 2008 and in Florence in 2010, to the meetings in Hamburg and Vienna, which resulted in the Hamburg Memorandum, and the Vienna Memorandum, to the meeting in Athens and the Inaugural Congress in Paris in 2011.

ELI has grown immensely and accomplished a lot over the past ten years:  1.600 Individual and Institutional Members representing diverse backgrounds, disciplines, and professions are now part of ELI; 13 projects were completed and 14 projects are currently being conducted; 12 Hubs and 11 SIGs have been established; a Young Lawyers Award has been created; a book series with the Oxford University Press has been launched; regular newsletters and annual reports are being published; yearly Annual Conferences take place; and a cooperation with other organisations has been established.  

That all this has been possible is due to the efforts of dedicated and enthusiastic persons, who have taken an active part in the General Assemblies, who have served on the administrative and executive bodies of the ELI, and who have been part of the Project Teams, the Advisory Committees, and the Members Consultative Committees.’ Reinhard Zimmermann

Lastly, the former Director of the American Law Institute, Lance Liebman, who provided practical guidance to jurists in the process leading towards the establishment of ELI, drew parallels to ALI. He emphasised that just like a few decades earlier in the United States of America, jurists in Europe recognised the need for a law coordination and started to think about how this could be organised. Liebman’s valuable advice was indeed crucial for the establishment of the Institute and once jurists caught on the idea of founding a European Law Institute, the idea was unstoppable: ELI was eventually founded.