Contract Law in Europe

Course summary

Lorna Richardson, Course Organiser, provides an overview of the course.

This course is a comparative contract law course. Contract law is part of each country's national law. The main focus of the course is fundamental concepts of the law of contract, which arise in all systems. The course compares national systems of contract law, principally Scots, English, French and German law. The course also considers some of the harmonisation initiatives that have taken place in Europe over the last decade, principally the Draft Common Frame of Reference (Principles, Definitions and Model Rules of European Private Law).

One of the themes of the course is whether there is, indeed, a split between the common law and the civil law tradition in the field of contract law within European countries. Is there, in fact, a gulf between the two traditions? Are harmonising initiatives likely to succeed? The debate on these issues will be informed by the analysis of the national legal systems which form the focus of this course.


  1. Introducing the concept of a contract and the harmonisation initiatives
  2. Good faith
  3. Pre-contractual liability 
  4. Formation
  5. Interpretation
  6. Third Party Rights
  7. Breach and Termination
  8. Enforcing performance
  9. Damages
  10. So What is a Contract?

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the defining characteristics of contract law in particular national legal systems;
  • Engage in informed discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of harmonisation of contract law within Europe;
  • Understand their own systems of contract law through discussion and comparison with students from other legal systems;
  • Identify relevant areas of law and apply legal rules to problem based questions.


30% case study, 2,000 words, 70% end of semester essay, 4,000 words 

Terms and conditions

Please note the University reserves the right to make variations to the contents of programmes, including the range of courses offered, and the available choice of courses in any given year may change.

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