Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module LAW42515: Comparative & European Private Law

Department: Law

LAW42515: Comparative & European Private Law

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.
Tied to M1K616
Tied to M1K316
Tied to M1K116


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Excluded Combination of Modules

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  • <This course aims to familiarize students with the structure and principles underlying the German, French and English laws of contract, tort and property. The emphasis is on those subjects relevant for commercial practice. By identifying the commonalities and structural differences between these legal systems, students are thus enabled to better evaluate attempts at harmonising European private law.>


  • <The course will address particular issues of both commercial contracts, consumer contracts, economic torts, products safety and liability, chains of contracts, agency, security arrangements and transfer of property. The course will highlight relevant and topical issues and expose underlying legal principles. So, we may deal with questions such as: how do European jurisdictions deal with the ‘signing without reading’ issue? To what extent is retention of title in movable objects allowed in European jurisdictions? How does liability for unfair trade practices under the EU Directive relate to domestic rules on misrepresentation, mistake and fraud? Is there a common core with regard to the so-called seller's preference? How do the General Product Safety Directive and the Products Liability Directive interact in tort law? Do parties to contracts in a chain of commercial contracts owe duties of care vis-à-vis one another irrespective of privity? Working from concrete practical examples, this course will guide you through the focal points of contemporary comparative European private law. The course is built up from eight themes. We deal with each theme by reference to literature and case law from the aforementioned legal systems. In doing so, we discuss the divergence in outcome and ask whether the differences are substantial or merely superficial. >

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • <On completion of the module students will be able to • Apply basic knowledge of the structure of the German and French Civil Code and relevant parts of the Commercial Code • Apply the acquired knowledge of the comparative legal analysis of the following themes: 1. contract conclusion and the relevance of information in the conclusion process 2. construction, validity and performance of commercial and consumer contracts 3. standard contract terms and power imbalance 4. unfair commercial practices 5. contracts, third parties and the role of tort law in protecting contracts 6. remedies for breach in tort and contract 7. the concepts of ownership, transfer and trust 8. security interests in moveables and receivables • Evaluate differences in structure and approach between English, German and English private law with regard to the themes explored in the module • Analyze and evaluate positions defended in scholarly comparative legal writing >
Subject-specific Skills:
  • <On completion of the module students will be able to • Employ the acquired knowledge to solve simple cases and identifying the key concepts applicable (and where relevant case law and Code provisions) • Identify differences and similarities between the legal systems with regard to the 8 themes >
Key Skills:
  • <On completion of the module students will be able to • Understand and communicate the fundamental similarities and differences in French, German and English private law • Put the relative value of solutions reached under their legal systems in perspective >

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

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Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 twice a week during 6 wks in Michaelmas term 2 hrs 16

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay/Exam Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Exam 2 hrs 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University