Studying Law at Roma Tre

Academic Year 2018-2019

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Spring Semester (March 1 - May 31, 2019)


Private Comparative Law 2019

Prof. Noah Vardi


7 CFUs - ECTS (Wednesdays 8.30-10 am Room 5,
Thursdays 4-5.45 Room 5, Fridays, 4-5.45, Room 4)

Email: (see website for office hours)

Course description:  
The course aims at introducing students to comparative methodology and conducting a comparative analysis of some key institutions of private law (property, contract and torts), with special focus on the common law/civil law convergence; on the process of Europeanisation of private law; and on some of the key challenges for private law posed by technological developments (e.g. blockchain and smart contracts).
The following topics will be covered in the course:
Introduction to comparative law – Property law in a comparative perspective - Contract law in the civil law and common law traditions –Blockchain and smart contracts- Principles of tort law and relevant case law in some of the main traditions of civil law (France, Germany, and Italy) and common law (UK and USA).

The following Visiting Professors will be teaching modules within the course in Spring 2019:

-Professor Lionel Smith, Sir William C. Macdonald Professor, McGill University, Faculty of Law will be teaching a module on Trusts in the common law and the civil law;

-Dr. Emanuel G.D. Van Dongen- Utrecht University.

There will also be Guest Lectures on specific topics as specified in the calendar below
Course Learning Objectives
  • To introduce students to important aspects of foreign law;
  • To introduce students to the comparative methodology in the study of law;
  • To provide, through the study of foreign law, a better understanding of national law;
  • To develop tools whereby students may identify relevant issues of comparative law and know-how to begin analysing and researching them, and may approach normative, jurisprudential and doctrinal sources of foreign law;
  • To develop critical skills of analysis and interpretation in relation to comparative methodology and foreign law.
Course Learning Activities
The course consists of lectures on the main subjects of private comparative law followed by presentations and seminars that are meant to support the lectures and encourage interactive student participation.

Assessment tools
Student evaluation will be based on class work, class participation, presentations given
during the semester, and a final written exam.

Attendance policy
Class attendance is compulsory.

Course materials
A selection of readings from various sources will be used.
  • B. H. Bix, “Theories of contract law”, in Comparative Contract Law, edited by P.G. Monateri, Research Handbooks in Comparative Law, Elgar Publishing, 2017, pgs. 717
  • R. Pound, “Promise or Bargain?”, in 33 Tulane Law Review 455, (19581959), pgs. 455472
  • J.H.M. van Erp, “The PreContractual Stage”, in Towards a European Civil Code, 4th.ed., edited by A. Hartkamp, M. Hesselink, E. Hondius et al., Nijmegen, 2011, pgs. 493513
  • O. Lando, “NonPerformance (Breach) of Contracts” in Towards a European Civil Code, 4th.ed., edited by A. Hartkamp, M. Hesselink, E. Hondius et al., Nijmegen, 2011, pgs. 681697

       -  M. Bussani, A. J. Sebok, Comparative Tort Law- Global Perspectives, Elgar Publishing
                  2015, Chapters 2 and 9 (+10 and 13, not compulsory)

Draft Course Schedule 
(please note this is a draft version: topics/activities may be subject to modifications)

Date Topic Reading assignments
1. Wed. March 6th
Introduction to the course-
Comparative law and its methodology
2. Thurs. March 7th European private law  
3. Wed. March 13th Prof. Lionel Smith-
Trusts in common law and civil law
4. Thurs. March 14th Prof. Lionel Smith-
Trusts in common law and civil law
5. Fri. March 15th Prof. Lionel Smith-
Trusts in common law and civil law
6. Wed. March 20th Prof. Lionel Smith-
Trusts in common law and civil law
7. Thurs. March 21st Prof. Lionel Smith-
Trusts in common law and civil law
8. Fri. March 22nd Prof. Lionel Smith-
Trusts in common law and civil law
9. Wed. March 27th Prof. Lionel Smith- Trusts in common law and civil law  
10. Thurs. March 28th Prof. Lionel Smith - Trusts in common law and civil law  
11. Fri. March 29th Contract law- introduction
Theories and foundations in a comparative perspective
B. H. Bix, “Theories of contract law” pgs.7-17
12. Wed. April 3rd Foundations & requirements of contract- cause, consideration, validity, form Reading:
R. Pound, “Promise or bargain?” pgs. 455-472
13. Thurs. April 4th Guest lecture: (TBC)  
14. Fri. April 5th Issues of pre-contractual liability
Student presentation
J.H.M. Van Erp, “The Pre-Contractual Stage” pgs. 493-513

1. House of Lords, Walford v. Miles 1992
2. Cour de Cassation, Comm. 26 November 2003
3. Cass. Comm. 20 March 1972
4.High Court of Australia Walton Stores (Interstate) Ltd v. Maher 1987
5.Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Hoffman v. Red Owl Stores Inc., 1965
6. Cass. It., 12 March 1993
  7. Hoge Raad 18 June 1982
  8. RG, 7 Dec. 1911
15. Wed. April 10th Formation and interpretation of contract
16. Thurs. April 11th Guest lecture: Dr. Capaccioli- Bitcoin & Blockchain  
17. Fri. April 12th Guest lecture: Dr. Mazzoli- Smart contracts  
18. Wed. April 17th Non-performance; remedies for breach of contract
O. Lando “Non-Performance (Breach) of Contracts, pgs. 681-697
19. Thurs. April 18th Supervening events- impossibility and hardship
Student presentation
1.Cass. civ. 1re, 9 March 1994
2.OLG Düsseldorf, 30 December 1964
3.Queen’s Bench Taylor v. Caldwell 1863;
4. Court of Appeal, Krell v. Henry 1902;
5. Court of Appeal, Herne Bay Steam Boat Co. v. Hutton, 1903;
6. Court of Appeal, Ocean Tramp Tankers Corp v VO Sovracht, The Eugenia, 1964
20. Thurs. May 2nd Introduction to tort law Reading:
Bussani-Sebok, Chapter 2, Comparative Tort Law
21. Fri. May 3rd Models of tort law: common law/civil law tradition Bussani-Sebok, Chapter 9, Comparative Tort Law
22. Wed. May 8th Torts- negligence and strict liability  
23. Thurs. May 9th Torts- causation Cases:
1.Fairchild v. Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd [2002] UKHL 22
2. Sindell v. Abbott Laboratories  163 CalRptr 123 (US) (supp.mat)
3. BGH, 2 July 1991
4. Privy Council, Overseas Tankship Ltd. v. Morts Dock & Engineering Co. Ltd., 1961
5. House of Lords, Hughes v. Lord Advocate, 1963
24. Fri. May 10th Dr. Van Dongen- Torts  
25.Wed. May 15th Dr. Van Dongen- Torts  
26. Thurs. May 16th Dr. Van Dongen- Torts  
27. Fri. May 17th Dr. Van Dongen- Torts  
28. Wed. May 22nd overview and final revision for the exam  



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