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On Friday September 24, 2021, the ACLPA and the Tax Law Department of Leiden University organized a conference on 'double hats' in legal science. Here, we look back on a fascinating conference and the conversations that it has inspired since. Please note: all sources linked here are in Dutch.

The ACLPA and the Tax Law Department of Leiden University look back on a great conference, which discussed the risks and challenges associated with external financial and commercial interests in legal science, including those for research, education, valorisation, and the role of legal science in relation to the interests of citizens.

About the conference 'Double Hatting' in the legal sciences

The reason for the conference was the inaugural lecture by Jan Vleggeert on the occasion of his appointment as professor of Tax Law at Leiden University, in which he questioned the independence of tax science because of the relatively large number of part-time tax professors who are also tax advisors in the commercial advisory practice. . He refers to this type of professor as a 'double hat'. Jan Vleggeert's inaugural lecture marked the start of an intense academic, political and social debate about the commercial influences on tax science. The theme is regularly covered in the media.

The conference in the media

The conference appealed to a wide audience: in addition to legal scientists, university administrators, legal practitioners, tax advisers, policymakers and students, investigative journalists were also present.

Legal commentator Folkert Jensma (NRC) has written an opinion piece entitled 'Het is tijd om aan rechten als objectieve wetenschap te gaan twijfelen' ('It is Time to Start Questioning Rights as an Objective Science'), in which he evaluates the conference. The opinion piece can be read here.

In addition, an interview with Jan Vleggeert and his colleague Jan van de Streek (both professors of Tax Law) was published in de Volkskrant, in which they discuss the mentality of tax specialists and also discuss 'double hatting'. The interview can be found here.

Rob van Gestel (professor of theory and method of law at Tilburg University)  has written a contribution on LinkedIn entitled 'Independence and Impartiality in Legal Science.' According to van Gestel, this topic is severely underexposed. "It is also paradoxical to think that bookshelves have been written about the independence and impartiality of the judge, but that there seems to be hardly a book that looks at legal scientists themselves." Thecontribution can be read here.

Finally, Van Gestel, also on LinkedIn, responds to Folkert Jensma's opinion piece: "The message that academic freedom is not only threatened from the outside, but also from within by the way universities and faculties are managed, does not seem to get through." Van Gestel also makes a number of interesting suggestions for (legal) science. His closing sentence: "Give (legal) science back to the real (legal) scientists and in return demand that they justify their research better (methodically)!