The UK and European Private Law, what’s next?

In the past I have reported on this forum about a simulation that William Bull and I run with Maastricht European Law School Students called the Maastricht Project. In this project, which runs in our course on European Private Law (focusing on contract, property and a bit of tort), we divide students amongst Member State delegations, the European Commission, a presidency and a fictive institute of European Institutional Economics (with the specific aim to bring economic arguments forward). We then run a 7-week negotiation simulation with our students in which we simulate a Council of the EU working group. Students play the role of delegate members and debate a fictive proposal on EU private law, made by the European Commission delegation students. For this, students borrow from the CESL, DCFR and Digital Assets proposals of the European Commission.

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Pilot Program on International Commercial Mediation

BoomPremiUM, in collaboration with MEPLI, is currently searching for motivated Master students with an interest in mediation (or ADR in general) to take part in a pilot program on International Commercial Mediation*. This program will run from January 2015 – June 2015 (approximately 150 hours of commitment in total) and should be considered as an extracurricular activity that can be managed in addition to the student’s regular course work.

With regards to content, this program will offer students the opportunity to gain market-oriented skills through workshops taught by international experts on mediation along. The students will also have the chance to take part in mediation simulations, where they will receive hands-on coaching and in-depth feedback on their performance.

If you are interested, please apply by sending an email to: AND prior to the deadline (3 December 2014 at 5:00pm). Your email should contain the following items in the attachment:

  • Your current CV,
  • A motivation letter indicating why you are interested in the program, and
  • Your answer to the following question: “If you could have three items while being stranded on a deserted island, what would they be?”

The motivation letter and the answer to the short question combined must not exceed one A4 (single-sided).

We look forward to seeing your applications and working together with you as we attempt to develop a practical mediation program here at Maastricht University. We are in the process of organising a Kick-Off Meeting on 5 December 2014, where the selected members will be invited for a meet-and-greet, where further information will be provided.

* Please note that no ECTS points will be available for this activity at this time. However, as the program will be part of the PremiUM Experience, certificates will be issued upon the completion of the course, not to mention the significant benefits that come with participating in PremiUM

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Call for student applications: the User_Based Law Research Project


‘The Faculty of Law, Maastricht University, and HiiL have been granted a subsidy from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in order to set up a Chair, with the purpose to involve prestigious lawyers, who work in the field of the internationalization of law, in research, teaching and PhD research. Part of the grant allows the Faculty of Law to assign a young researcher to write a PhD under the supervision of the Chairholder.’ –

MEPLI conducts fundamental research in the field of European private law, covering the law of contract, property and tort, but also European procedural law, European legal theory and European legal history. Its establishment in 2010 marks the importance Maastricht University attaches to the international study of law and its commitment to facilitate both internationally leading academics and young scholars in pursuing high quality academic work. MEPLI’s main mission is to conduct creative and fundamental research with a special focus on exploring the consequences of Europeanization and globalization in the field of private law. In doing so, MEPLI questions the relevance of territorial and dogmatic borders delineating both national jurisdictions and the classical areas of law. Where useful, it also involves other disciplines (such as political science, economics and psychology).

The above-mentioned HiiL-UM framework supports the organization of events surrounding the research design and topics pursued by individual PhD candidates. In the light of this context, MEPLI is seeking to collaborate with students on a research project on User_Based Law.

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Maastricht Project on European Private Law

At M-EPLI we are also concerned with education (we call it #MepliED). In this context, like past years, also this year M-EPLI’s William Bull and I are offering our course on European Contract Law to about 150 bachelor students in the form of our Maastricht Project. Our course is a third year (elective) undergraduate course taken by our European Law School students as well as some (brave) exchange students and exclusively focuses on EU private law. We build on the very advanced knowledge our ELS students have on comparative contract law, as well as EU law (both institutional law and EU substantive law).

Last year I reported on this course already where students were combining their own ideal design of a European contract (and some property) law with a modest negotiation simulation, in which students represented the Member States and dealt with the European Commission’s Common European Sales Law (CESL) proposal. This year we upgraded our course so that students now work on course work (a paper) in their study time, but 5 (out of our 7) 2-hour seminars are devoted to a large-scale negotiation simulation in which our students simulate the Council Working party for justice. Students are divided into the Council Presidency, the European Commission, a special institute for law and economics that provides macro-economic and behavioral insights to EU consumer contract law, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany and the Netherlands (based on languages our students understand). Students receive instructions on EU Council negotiations and negotiation techniques from Frank Lavadoux, experienced negotiator and trainer from the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA).

We are 2 weeks in the simulation and students are struggling with the political choices that were made in CESL. This includes in particular the chapeau rules that deal very creatively with the Rome I Regulation, the restriction of the scope of the Commission’s proposal to contract law only (so no property and tort) and the supplementary role of national law. Without knowing of the complete EU debate on CESL and European private law by academics, they reach very similar conclusions from a more pragmatic point of view.

In the next 5 weeks our students will further investigate the Commission proposal from the Member States’ (and E institution’s) perspectives. On Tuesday 10 June they will hold a full-day final negotiation session, simulation COREPER (the committee of permanent representatives) where they will try to reach political agreement on most of CESL. I will certainly report back on the outcome.

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What does it mean to study law in the 21st century?


Lawyer of the future

Recently, Jan Smits published an article in the inaugural issue of the journal Critical Analysis of Law: ‘Law and Interdisciplinarity: On the Inevitable Normativity of Legal Studies’ (find it here). While the article keeps within the author’s tradition of writing about legal studies with a clear focus on the future of law in a global society, it is a piece of particular importance because it departs from a burning question: what is the purpose of legal studies? 

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I want everything: the full harmonization of unfair commercial practices as seen in Citroën Belux NV v. Federatie voor Verzekerings- en Financiële Tussenpersonen (FvF))

On 18 July 2013, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered its judgment in Citroën Belux NV v. Federatie voor Verzekerings- en Financiële Tussenpersonen (FvF)), a case surrounding Directive 2005/29/EC on unfair commercial practices (UCPD) and Art. 56 TFEU.

In 2010, car manufacturer Citroën initiated a campaign offering interested purchasers of a new car six months’ worth of free comprehensive car insurance. The Federation for Insurance and Financial Intermediaries (FvF) considered such offer to constitute a prohibited combined offer in the understanding of Belgian legislation; Art. 72 of the Law of 6 April on market practices and consumer protection (Wet van 6 april 2010 betreffende marktpraktijken en consumentenbescherming/Loi du 6 avril 2010 relative aux pratiques du marché et à la protection du consommateur) prohibits (with certain exceptions) any combined offer to the consumer which has at least one finance service component. The Rechtbank van koophandel te Brussel agreed with the Federation, and Citroën subsequently lodged an appeal with the Hof van beroep te Brussel. It was the latter Court that decided to submit a question to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling in relation to Article 3(9) UCPD:

“Must Article 3(9) of Directive 2005/29 be interpreted as precluding a provision, such as Article 72 [of the Law of 6 April 2010], which generally prohibits – save in the cases exhaustively listed by the statute – any combined offer to the consumer where at least one component is a financial service?”

The CJEU answered in the negative.

It was not the first time that the CJEU was analyzing combined offers. On several other occasions, including in 2009 in the VTB-VAB NV and Galatea joint cases, as well as in 2010 in Zentrale zur Bekämpfung unlauteren Wettbewerbs eV, the Court stated that the UCPD precludes national prohibitions of commercial offers whereby the availability of certain services is linked to the purchase of goods, since they were not listed in the Directive’s black list. Given the list is set in stone and can only be modified by modifying the Directive itself, Member States cannot add to it. Nevertheless, it was the first time when combined offers involved financial services, which are as such outside the boundaries of the process of fully harmonizing unfair commercial practices.

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