The course offers a historical and comparative introduction to European Private Law. Today’s variety of legal systems in Europe cannot be properly understood without reference to European Legal History. Thus, one part of the course will be devoted to the development of European Private Law and the specific contribution of the Civilian Tradition. Particular attention is to be paid to the dominant forces of law making in the different legal systems: magistrates and legal experts in Ancient Roman Law, professors and clergymen in Medieval Law, judges in the Common Law and legislators in Modern Continental Law.
Furthermore, basic concepts of Private Law such as property, contracts and extra contractual obligations will be dealt with in this course in a comparative perspective. This will be done mainly in form of discussions about specific cases ranging from the transfer of movables to the restitution of assets to Nazi victims, from the discussion about ”good faith” in European Contract Law to claims of an agent of necessity. Special emphasis will be placed on the discussion of possible solutions, the analysis of court decisions and the evaluation of legislative choices.
I. The Landscape of European Private Law: Diversity and Common Traditions
- Sources of “European Private Law”
- Variations of a Theme: Transfer of Property in European Legal Systems
- Acquisition in Good Faith
- Art restitution and Acquisition in Good Faith: the Mahler-Werfel Case
II. Lawyers, Judges, Legislators. The Making of European Law
- Roman Law: The Jurists´ Role in the Development of Law as a Science
- Medieval Law: The Scholarship of the Professors of Civil and Canon Law
- The Codification(s) of Private Law in Continental Europe
- The Emergence of Common Law as opposed to Civil Law: Judges as Law Makers
- Supranational Legislation: EC-Directives in the Area of Consumer Protection
II. Case Studies in European Contract Law
- Liberty of Contract and Equality in Exchange
- Good Faith in European Contract Law
- Extra contractual Obligations: the Witty Genealogist’s Case
Requirements: Regular attendance and active participation in class discussions (40%) and an open-book essay exam (60%).