Two new books: European private law as a national discipline


The international character of European private law is one of the reasons why I have always been attracted to this field. Like legal history and philosophy of law, European private law is an academic discipline practiced by academics from a wide range of different countries together making up a vibrant academic community. In law, this is still exceptional. This, however, is not the only dimension of European private law. There is also the national dimension: how do national private laws and European private law interact? There are many dimensions to this interaction. One is how national law influences EU private law (an obvious example being the inspiration that the EU legislator takes from national laws when drafting EU directives). Another is how EU directives and the case law of the CJEU ‘land’ at the national level and influence national courts, legislators and private actors.

Recently two books saw the light that both deal with this national aspect of European private law. The first, edited by Annina H. Persson and Eleonor Kristofferson from Örebro University, deals specifically with the Swedish experience with private law Europeanisation. Although this book also contains contributions about European private law in general, it also contains some interesting accounts of how EU law affects Swedish private law. One example is the 2009 Messner case in which the CJEU ‘invented’ a European principle of unjust enrichment when interpreting EU Directive 97/7 on distance contracts. This sits uneasily with domestic Swedish law that never accepted any such principle. The second book is the latest addition to the well-known Ius Commune Casebooks for the Common Law of Europe. This book, edited by Arthur Hartkamp, Carla Sieburgh and Wouter Devroe and called Cases, Materials and Text on European Law and Private Law essentially deals with the horizontal (‘among individuals’) effects of EU law. It is no surprise that this leads to elaborate attention for in particular the role of the CJEU and of EU directives in setting rights and obligations of people.


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