Contract Law from an International and Comparative Perspective

Course content

The main focus of the course is on fundamental concepts and general principles of law governing enforceable contracts from a comparative perspective in the EU and North America. The principal topics include (a) the rules relating to the formation of agreements and the requirements which must be satisfied to make agreements legally enforceable; (b) the contents of a contract and the rules governing the validity of its terms; (c) the nature and effect of mistake, misrepresentation, duress and undue influence; (d) performance and breach; (e) remedies for breach of contract; and (f) the
basis of contractual liability. Case law examples demonstrate how the jurisdictaional differences manifests in both contemporary and older precedent setting cases. Specific forms of contracts, including franchising, joint ventures, licensing, rental and sales agreements will be considered. Having considered the similarities and differences between jurisdictions, the course will include critical discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of the concept of a uniform European Contract Law.


The main topics of the course will include:

 

Introduction: The European Landscape

The first part of the course will review basic concepts of contract law, clarify how the course will be structured, and explain the exam format. Introduction to how different jurisdictions interpret basic concepts the contract law will be examined by way of case examples. The Principles of European Contract Law based on the concept of a uniform European contract law system will be discussed and revisited at the end of course to discuss and debate its merits and challenges. Elements of a Contract Building on the students’ knowledge of Danish contract law, these sessions will examine, by way of case law, the differences between how the US, Canada, and European jurisdictions treat the following elements of creating a legally binding contract:


1. Intention to be legally bound: elements that convert an agreement into a legally enforceable contract from the perspective of courts from different jurisdictions

2. Offer and acceptance: the expression of an offer and acceptance may take
different forms, which can affect its validity. Rules relating to the communication of an acceptance also affects whether there is actual assent, for example, in the context of e-contracts

3. Doctrine of consideration: the common law doctrine of consideration requires that every party to a contract offers something of value or benefit before a contract can be considered binding

4. Enforceability: examples of different factors that affect whether a contract is enforceable will be examined, including form (ie. oral, electronic contracts),
capacity and competency, duress, and privity of contract

5. Subject matter: even if a contract contains all the necessary elements to be considered legally binding, different jurisdictions have different notions of what constitutes lawful subject matter that can form the basis of a contract

 

Interpretation of a Contract.

These sessions will examine, by way of case law and examples of actual contracts, the differences between how the US, Canada, and European jurisdictions interpret terms of a contract and assess whether they are sufficiently certain, and not too vague or too ambiguous, to be legally enforceable. This will form the basis of an examination of jurisdictional differences and ongoing discussion of whether courts should uphold
contracts as they are written or should courts try to interpret and seek to extract fair meaning of the parties from the context of a contract
Breach of a Contract These sessions will examine, by way of case law, the differences between how the US, Canada, and European jurisdictions assess whether there has been a breach of contract, the type of breach, and the types of remedies available for the particular breach.

 

Remedies

These sessions will build on concepts and cases discussed on breach of contract and discuss the different types of remedies available in different jurisdictions and under what circumstances the remedies will be granted. In addition to the different types of damages and how far reaching they can be, remedies based on equity, such as specific performance, constructive trusts, and promissory estoppel will be discussed

 

Supervening Events

These sessions will focus on how different jurisdictions treat external events occurring after the conclusion of the contract that impact the ability of a party to perform the contract. Through examining case law, different jurisdictions deal with rights and obligations of contractual parties in different ways under circumstances such as impossibility, frustration, force majeur, and hardship

 

Types of Contracts

By way of conclusion, these sessions will involve the analysis of different types of contracts (ie. employment, licensing, purchase and sale) and the application of all the various elements considered from previous sessions. This will enable students to identify legal risks when creating a relationship between

Learning outcome
  • Use critical thinking skills to understand the fundamental concept and the jurisdictional differences of contracts law in the EU and North America
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the role contract law plays in society at a global level and the legal princples by which it is governed
  • Understand how the legal profession, government (national and international), private sector, and society conceive of the impact and role of contract law in governing every day life, as well as complex circumstances
  • Demonstrate an ability to apply principles of contract law to concrete real life examples and issues in a strategic manner that reflects balanced consideration of interests
  • Identify and explain the rights and obligations that arise under a legally binding contract
  • Explain and anaylze elements of a contract to identify its strengths and weaknesses
  • Interpret and analyze contemporary and older precedent setting case law
  • Develop and articulate clear, coherent, and professional oral and written communication and argumentation skills related to the topic in preparation for working in the public or private sector
  • Enable students to carry out independent research on contractual relationships
  • Foster interest the topic as a way to introduce and and prepare students for the Master level courses related to the topic

Group presentation of case law
Contemporary case law will be assigned at the end of each class relating to the most
recent lecture. Case(s) will be presented at the beginning of the following class as way
to (i) review concepts from previous class and (ii) use modern and relevant case
examples that students can relate to explain and demonstrate how legal principles
discussed in class are applied. This activity intended to hone student’s oratory and
group work skills.

Written assignment with one day
Students will be evaluated by way of a written examination. This activity is intended to
hone students written skills with pressure.

Class discussion/​simulations/​debates
Engage class in discussion on the similarities and differences between jurisdictions on
particular legal principles. Conduct simulations or debates based on current case law
examples. This activity is intended to encourage students to think critically on their feet
in a group situation.

Contract Law – Cases, Materials, and Text, Hugh Beale, Bénédicte Cosson, Jacobien Rutgers, Denis Tallon, Stefan Vogenauer, Hart Publishing 2010 (approximately 250 pages) – only available in e-book form.

Recent case law and other relevant materials selected and made available (approximlately 100 pages)

Students must have a good command of English.

This course is intended to help students develop critical skills required and expected of
them by a law firm when they enter practice.

Written
Oral
Individual
Collective
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
ECTS
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 1 day
Assigned individual written assignment, 1 day
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 35
  • Preparation
  • 171,25
  • English
  • 206,25