Rianka Rijnhout has been appointed Full Professor of Institutions, Conflict Resolution and Private Law at Utrecht University (2021). Within the School of Law, she teaches for the Molengraaff Institute for Private Law and the Utrecht Center for Accountability and Liability Law, and she undertakes research for this same Center, as well as for the Empirical Legal Research into Institutions for Conflict Resolution (ERI), where she is a member of ERI’s steering group. Rijnhout is also affiliated with Utrecht University’s Strategic Theme ‘Institutions for Open Societies’, for instance with the Stream Long-termism and Institutional change.

Rijnhout conducts research into the why and how of compensation systems, such as systems for liability law, compensation funds, no-fault compensation and first-party insurance. Her underlying motive for this research is to improve claim settlement for both institutions that have a leading role in making compensation possible and victims in the Netherlands and abroad. To achieve this, a cooperation between disciplines is needed. Rijnhout combines her legal research, e.g. doctrinal and comparative research, with interdisciplinary research and empirical-legal research.

In 2016 Rijnhout was selected for the Utrecht Young Academy, a group of accomplished academics from all disciplines selected for their innovative ideas for future academia.


Research shows that the complex current systems for liability law and the law of damages burden parties. Her research into the characteristics of longtail personal injury cases and other research into a victim’s needs and perception of fairness show that the current system of liability law simplifies a (potential) discordant situation into legal questions (or disputes). This simplification can result in tensions between parties, or even frustration or secondary victimisation. Whether alternative compensation systems can offer a more meaningful result from the perspective of the law, victims and institutions is as yet unknown. Rijnhout uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine how systems can be changed to produce a meaningful result, such change embedded in law. She does so by applying different methods. She has been using legal-doctrinal and legal-comparative methods since her thesis in 2007. After finishing her PhD in 2012, Rijnhout has been combining her legal research with interdisciplinary research and empirical-legal research. She has been co-operating with legal academics from the field of human rights and criminal law, and has been working with academics from the field of psychology, governance and geology.

At the national level, Rijnhout collaborates with e.g. the Universities of Leiden and Nijmegen within the Sector Plan Law (2019-2025), an agenda for innovation in legal research in the Netherlands. This is financed by the Dutch Government, though the agenda was set by the discipline itself. She contributes to this plan as a researcher and member of the national steering groups on Institutions for Conflict Resolution and Empirical-legal Studies.

At the international level, Rijnhout participates in the Common Core of European Private Law, a European network of legal researchers. She currently leads (together with Prof. Tomas Arons) a comparative project about mass harm, in which thirteen jurisdictions participate.

Since 2007, Rijnhout has been a member of the Research School Ius Commune.

Rijnhout has co-supervised two PhD candidates. She is currently involved in two other PhD projects, both concerning workers’ compensation: occupational disease and worker-victims of harassment.


Rijnhout aims to teach what she researches, and to teach about current legal and societal questions concerning liability and compensation. Topics she addresses include: why and how to compensate victims of self-driving cars or AI in general; why and how to compensate via national compensation systems for human rights violations.

Rijnhout teaches masters and honours students and was programme director of the Private Law Master’s degree 2016-2019. She continues to be programme director of the LLM honours programme at Utrecht University. She has also developed several law courses both at the bachelors and masters level. At the masters level, she for instance has developed and has been teaching ‘Liability law in international and European context’ in the Master Dutch Private Law.

In 2016 she successfully completed the Educational Leadership Programme at Utrecht University. In 2013 she received her Senior Qualification Education. In 2013 and 2014 she was nominated for the Most Talented Teacher Award at the Law School.

Additional activities

As an extension of her research activities, Rijnhout is on the editorial board of the Dutch Journal for Personal Injury Law and of the Dutch Journal Government and Liability Law, while also fulfilling an editorial role for the Utrecht Law Review. She is also a fellow at the Dutch Journal for Private Law. Since 2015 Rijnhout has been chairing the Working Group on Standardisation of Damages and Damage Assessment of the Dutch Personal Injury Council (a non-profit organisation). Since 2019 she has been a permanent lecturer registered at the Union of Personal Injury Lawyers. Since 2022 she is also a deputy judge in the District Court of Overijssel.

Utrecht Young Academy

Ius Commune 2017

Afscheid Prof. Adriaan Dorresteijn

Board Utrecht Young Academy

Onderzoeksmiddag 2013


UCALL Onderzoeksgroep

Onderzoeksmaster 2004
Institutions, Conflict Resolution and Private Law