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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English Contract Law for Civil Lawyers: on John Cartwright’s ‘Contract Law’

One of the best-known books on comparative law published in the last century is F.H. Lawson’s A Common Lawyer Looks at the Civil Law (Ann Arbor, 1953). This book contains the five lectures that Oxford comparatist Harry Lawson delivered at the University of Michigan Law School. Upon re-reading this book, one is struck by the emphasis that Lawson puts on the pedagogical utility of comparative legal study, something also very much emphasised in today’s reaching and research. It would be no exaggeration to state that Lawson’s plea has become a reality in the curriculum of many European law faculties.

Just published is a new edition of John Cartwright’s Contract Law: An Introduction to the English Law of Contract for the Civil Lawyer (Hart Publishing 2016). This book offers a interesting variation on the theme that was explored by Lawson more than 60 years ago. This time it is not an English jurist teaching his readers about the civil law, but an English scholar and solicitor educating an audience of civil lawyers about English contract law. John Cartwright may be in the best possible position to do so, as he is not only teaching at Oxford, but also taught at the University of Paris II and still teaches at Leiden University. The book assumes that in order to teach English contract law in a meaningful way to an audience of civil lawyers, one needs to speak to these civil lawyers in their own language, taking into consideration their own frame of reference. It is good to emphasise that other views on this are certainly feasible, including the one that the best way to learn about the law is not from one national perspective, but rather in a continuous dialogue between the different views of common law and civil law, without using one of the two as the intermediating language. Having said this, this particular book excels in offering an easy to read and up-to-date introduction to not only English contract law, but also to the English legal system as such. Much recommended!

The publisher is happy to offer the readers of the MEPLI blog a 20% discount when ordering the book online: click here and use code CV7 at the checkout.





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How Do You Make Companies “Good”? Spank Them Less!

I was a little troublemaker in my more youthful days, and while I will spare the details here, suffice it to say that I have been on the receiving end of some good old fashion punishments (some corporal, some less biblical). As a result, from a relatively young age, I intuitively understood the concept of punishment as a mechanism to deter bad behavior. Psychologist B.F. Skinner refers to this as “operant conditioning”.[1] Operant conditioning – very generally speaking – is a method of behavior modification where good behavior is rewarded with positive reinforcements and bad behavior is punished through negative reinforcements.

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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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New Book: Towards a European Legal Culture

In December 2011 I has the pleasure of being present at a conference on European legal culture at Trinity College, Oxford. This week I received the book that came out of this conference and that is edited by the two main organisers Geneviève Helleringer and Kai Purnhagen. When legal culture is discussed, the focus is too often on what is the desired future situation or on the common European legal culture that existed in the past. This new book excels in avoiding these oblique perspectives and instead seeks to provide a more precise account of the interactions between law and culture at this defining moment in European history. It is often heard that European legal culture can and should be studied from a comparative, theoretical, or sociological point of view, but unfortunately  not many authors in fact do so. This book is different. It provides a wealth of materials on law and culture, conveniently organised under the headings ‘Law and Culture’, ‘Shaping Legal Norms with Culture’ and ‘Shaping Culture with Legal Norms.’ Contributors include Martijn Hesselink, Régis Lanneau, Dennis-Jonathan Mann, Hans-W. Micklitz, Matthew Dyson, Klaus Mathis, Véronique Magnier, Darren Rosenblum, Hugo Barbier, Nicos Simatiras, Geneviève Helleringer, Ari Afifalo, Dennis Patterson, Kai Purnhagen, Constanze Semmelmann, Guido Comparato, Helge Dedek and Chantal Mak. The European character of the venture is evident from the fact that three publishers (Nomos, Beck and Hart) collaborated in publishing this book.

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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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