Guest lecture: Rogier v. Le Journal de Bruxelles. Freedom of Expression and Tort before Belgian Courts (1861-1863)

Dhondt, F. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk at an external academic organisation


The Belgian Constitution guaranteed political liberty, exemplified by the mandatory competence of the jury for judging political and press offences. However, the constitution did not literally mention quasi-delicts. In 1861, liberal statesman Charles Rogier was insulted by the ultramontanist Catholic newspaper Le Journal de Bruxelles. He sued the newspaper’s printer under tort law, and obtained a considerable amount of damages, bypassing the jury. Progressive radical lawyer Lucien Jottrand, former member of the Constituent Assembly, argued at length that the constitution exclusively reserved competence for both civil and criminal liability to the jury. The Brussels Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation rejected this reasoning and insisted on the superior natural law-origins of tort law. Yet, this decision created a risk of private censorship, well documented in the press and in private archives on the legal battle around the Journal de Bruxelles.

Guest lecture in the class 'Droit international régional comparé des libertés fondamentales' (Prof. dr. Céline Roynier)
Period15 Jan 2021
Held atCY Cergy Paris Université, France
Degree of RecognitionInternational