Jan Smits holds the Chair of European Private Law at Maastricht University and is the academic director of the Maastricht European Private Law Institute (MEPLI). He is also research professor of Comparative Legal Studies in the University of Helsinki. After his study of law at the universities of Leiden and Poitiers (1986-1991), Jan Smits defended his PhD at the University of Leiden (1995), developing a theory of how contractual liability can be best explained. In 1995 and 1996 he taught at the universities of Stellenbosch and Tilburg. He then was appointed at Maastricht University, first (1996-1999) as an associate professor and then (1999) to the newly created Chair of European Private Law (the first chair for this field worldwide). At Maastricht, Jan Smits led the private law research group of the Ius Commune Research School. From 2008 to 2010, he was distinguished professor of European Private Law and Comparative Law at Tilburg University, a post he gave up in late 2010 to return to Maastricht and found the Maastricht European Private Law Institute. He held visiting positions at a number of foreign institutions, including Tulane Law School, Leuven University, the University of Liège, Louisiana State University and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. From 2010-2012, he also held the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL) Visiting Chair on the Internationalisation of Law. Jan Smits is an elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).