Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module LAW42615: Comparative Insurance Law

Department: Law

LAW42615: Comparative Insurance Law

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


  • NONE


  • NONE<>

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • NONE


  • This course aims to familiarize students with insurance law from a multidisciplinary perspective. Obviously, ample attention is given to English insurance law as it stands but there is also room for comparative legal analysis with French and German insurance law as well as a survey of insurance economics principles. Students are thus challenged to develop a broad understanding of how insurance works both in the law books, courts and practice. Various questions may be covered such as: what sets insurance contracts apart from other risk avoidance instruments? What alternatives for private insurance exist? What is the economic rationale for the legal regime concerning disclosure of material facts and risk differentiation? How are the insured and insurer expected to behave in the adjustment process? How is coverage assessed? To what extent do legislatures intervene in freedom of contract in order to protect the insured against potential power imbalance? What rights can third parties derive from the insurance contract? Does the availability of insurance coverage influence courts’ decisions on tortious liability?


  • The course will highlight relevant and topical issues and expose underlying legal principles. The following themes will be explored: 1. Risk, risk avoidance and insurance; insurance economics 2. Insurance contracts - Conclusion and construction 3. Risk differentiation and acceptance; disclosure 4. Coverage and claims adjustment 5. Third parties 6. Consumer protection 7. Tort law and insurability 8. Liability insurance and long-tail legacies 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 English case law and the German Insurance Contract Law Act and French Insurance Code to insurance law hypotheticals • Apply the acquired knowledge concerning the eight themes • Evaluate differences in structure and approach between English, German and English private law with regard to the themes explored in the module • Analyse and evaluate positions defended in comparative legal writing and insurance economics
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On completion of the module students will be able to • Use concepts from insurance economics to evaluate relevant legal constructs • Employ the acquired knowledge to hypotheticals • Identify the key concepts, case law and Code provisions • Identify differences and similarities between the legal systems with regard to the eight 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 insurance contract law • Put the relative value of solutions reached under their legal systems in an economic perspective

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

  • enter text as appropriate for the module

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 Twice a week 2 hrs 16

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay/Exam Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Exam 2 hr 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