Combining Legal and Economic Theory. An Interdisciplinary Approach to Dutch and Polish Family Provisions in Succession Law

Mark Beuker

University of Groningen , Netherlands


Although testamentary freedom is an important principle in succession law, legislators and judges across the world have recognized the importance of certain family members by granting them mandatory claims in the inheritance of their deceased relative (in spite of wishes of the deceased). This article focuses on these rights. The goal is to introduce the Dutch framework of imperative succession law and to demonstrate the possibilities of combining the legal and economic discipline to deepen knowledge on these provisions. Whilst examples will focus upon succession law, the concepts will be described in a general manner. This might inspire researchers to apply a similar interdisciplinary approach in other fields of law.

The imperative provisions that currently exist for family members in the Netherlands can be divided into two types of claims. The first is the legitime, a fixed claim for children of the deceased. The second type are the other statutory entitlements that cover a specified range of situations in which judges have freedom in deciding upon the requests of family members. However, this discretion raises many questions on the way judges should handle such claims.

A combination of law and economics can aid in describing and interpreting the law, for example by defining the need for support that is often required for a successful claim. By relying on economic data and theory, judges can come to a more consistent and substantiated way of establishing the need for support. The interdisciplinary methodology can also improve comparative legal research. The functional approach that is common in comparative legal research, assumes that law fulfills certain functions. Economic figures provide an objective basis that demonstrates what functions a law fulfills and to what extent this is done efficiently. This information can be used to compare the functioning of laws in different countries.


interdisciplinary, family provisions, economics, comparative

Beuker, Mark R. “Rapport Legitieme Portie; wil het publiek aanpassing van de legitieme portie?.” Tijdschrift voor Familie- en Jeugdrecht 29, afl. 5 (2021): 134–138.

Beuker, Mark R. “De legitieme gekwantificeerd.” Weekblad voor Privaatrecht Notariaat en Registratie 7313 (2021): 147–52.

Burgerhart, Wouter. “Waarde en erfrecht.” PhD diss., University of Nijmegen, 2008.

CBS. “Nalatenschappen; Nagelaten vermogen, kenmerken.” Den Haag/Heerlen, 2020.

Dnes, Antony W. “Economics and Family Law.” 2018. DOI:

Van der Geld, Lucienne A.G.M., and Freek W.J.M Schols. Legitieme portie. Een eerstelijns – en nader voort te zetten – veldonderzoek naar de wenselijkheid van de legitieme portie in het hedendaagse erfrecht. Centrum voor Notarieel Recht, Radboud Universiteit en Netwerk Notarissen, 2020.

ter Haar, Johannes H.M. “Minderjarigen en (de zorg voor) hun vermogen.” PhD diss., University of Groningen, 2013.

ter Haar, Johannes H.M. “Is de legitieme portie nog legitiem?.” Tijdschrift Erfrecht 2 (2021): 23–29. DOI:

Kelly, Daniel B. “Toward Economic Analysis of the Uniform Probate Code.” University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 45, no. 4 (2012): 855–98.

Kerridge, Roger. “Family Provision in England and Wales.” In Comparative Succession Law v3 Mandatory Family Protection, edited by Kenneth G.C. Reid, Marius J. De Waal, and Reinhard Zimmermann, 384–416. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. DOI:

Kolkman, Wilbert D. “Pleidooi voor afschaffing van de legitieme portie.” In Dwingend erfrecht in Europa, edited by René J.C. Flach, Grietje T. de Jong, Rosalie Koolhoven, and Fokke J. Vonck, 71–83. Den Haag: Boom Juridische Uitgevers, 2015.

Langbein, John H. “The Twentieth-Century Revolution in Family Wealth Transmission.” University of Chicago Law Occasional Paper 25 (1989): 1–32.

Matysiak, Anna. “Is Poland really immune to the spread of unmarried cohabitation?.” Demographic Research 21, 8 (2009): 215–34. DOI:

Perrick, Steven. Mr. C. Assers Handleiding tot de beoefening van het Nederlands Burgerlijk Recht. 4. Erfrecht en schenking. Deventer: Wolters Kluwer, 2017.

Posner, Richard A. Economic Analysis of Law. New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1973.

Rapport Expertgroep Alimentatienormen 2021. Utrecht: De Rechtspraak, 2020.

Roszko-Grzegorek, Elżbieta. “The Role and Importance of Succession Planning in Polish Family Firms.” Acta Universitatis Lodziensis. Folia Oeconomica 224 (2008): 57–79.

Surdej, Aleksander, and Krzysztof Wach. “The dynamics of succession in family businesses in Poland – Empirical results.” Economia Marche: Journal of Applied Economics 31, no. 2 (2012): 109–28.

Zweigert, Konrad, and Hein Kötz. An Introduction to Comparative Law. Translated by Tony Weir. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Zoll, Fryderyk. “Compulsory Portion in Poland.” In Comparative Succession Law v3 Mandatory Family Protection, edited by Kenneth G.C. Reid, Marius J. De Waal, and Reinhard Zimmermann, 366–83. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. DOI:



Beuker, M. (2021). Combining Legal and Economic Theory. An Interdisciplinary Approach to Dutch and Polish Family Provisions in Succession Law. Review of European and Comparative Law, 47(4), 49–65.

Mark Beuker
University of Groningen

Mark R. Beuker, MSc, LLM, PhD student, Department of General Law Studies, Faculty of Law, University of Groningen; correspondence address: Oude Kijk in’t Jatstraat 26, 9712EK Groningen, The Netherlands; e-mail:;


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons CC-BY