Common law program - Courses of Study 2007

Students must follow all courses

There is a total of 18 courses to be taken
the program corresponds to 60 ECTS credits which represent one year of study.

Comparative Law



This introduction seminar is aimed to prepare students for the program seminars that follow it. Professor Chamboredon will present and will invite discussion on a methodological approach to Anglo-American legal traditions, a comparative historical study of the evolution of common law and codified law cultures, and some insights on the debate regarding the Europeanization of private law.



This module allows students to explore and understand the system of public law in the United Kingdom at a time of major constitutional change. How are ministers held to account ? What is the role of the courts ? Has the United Kingdom developed its own system of administrative law ?

The role of the courts since the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998, the introduction of devolution to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London with changes to the structure of regional local government is considered. Reform of the House of Lords and the role of Parliament is addressed.

The law of the European Union and the sovereignty of the United Kingdom are also discussed as is the relationship between local and central government is considered. Mechanisms for citizens’ grievances such as the ombudsman are examined. The powers of the police and the security of the state are studied. Topics covered include constitutional law, judicial review, human rights, the rule of law, Parliament and Lords reform, ministerial accountability and the role of Parliament. Also included are the following subject areas such as devolution, sovereignty, the European Union, police powers, the ombudsman and citizens grievances are explained in their legal, social and economic context.

- Course content :

  • The nature of public law in the United Kingdom ;
  • The new culture of human rights and how this is reconciled with parliamentary sovereignty ;
  • The role of administrative law ;
  • The nature of government and modes of accountability ;
  • The law on remedies and on judicial review.


S. MILLNS (KENT UNIVERSITY) : From a Common law perspective

This seminar investigates, from a common law perspective, the dynamic nature of European legal integration against a backdrop of economic, social and political developments that have characterised the evolution of the European Union over half a century. In doing so the module comprises three main parts. The first provides an overview of theoretical approaches to the unique process of European legal integration focussing in particular upon the role of the European Court of Justice and its jurisprudence as a motor of integration. The second and third parts examine instances of the application of these theories in two keys, but quite different, aspects of EU law and policy that is constitutionalism and the internal market.

++++ Contract


Prof. Ch. CALLEROS (ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY) : United States Contract Law, International Sales Contracts, and U.S. Civil Rights Legislation

Professor Calleros will introduce students to common law legal method using American contracts cases as well as some non-legal analytic exercises and will invite active participation from students. The class will then study selected provisions of the U.S. Uniform Commercial Code,Article 2 (addressing contracts for the sale of goods) and the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, comparing them to one another and to the common law. Finally, the class will study constitutional provisions, statutes, and case law relating to American civil rights law, both as an introduction to this field of law and as a means of addressing questions of constitutional and statutory interpretation. The final examination will not include the civil rights material.


G. SAMUEL (KENT UNIVERSITY) : English Contract Law

The seminar will deal in detail with English contract law. From their own knowledge students are also expected to do a comparison with French law. All the main doctrines of the principles of contract law common to the three systems will be examined if time allows. Teaching will take the form of a presentation plus discussion by students of Case Studies in small groups. To benefit from the Case Studies students will be expected to prepare in advance for the Case Studies and to participate actively in discussion. Because of the method of teaching some or all of the assessment will be in the form of problem questions similar to the Case Studies.

++++ Property & Trust

Module 4 – PROPERTY I

I. PORRAS (ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY) : Introduction to property

The course aims to provide students with some of the basic concepts of property law. These key concepts are not only important to property law itself but also to understandings in related fields such as succession, taxation, water law, native title, trusts and equity, for example. The course explores the concept of the fragmentation of proprietary interests and discusses how interests may be divided spatially according to the doctrine of tenure, and temporarily, according to the doctrine of estates. The course also aims to provide students with an overview of the creation, transfer and acquisition of various types of property interests.

Module 12 – PROPERTY II

R. GOLD (MC GILL UNIVERSITY) : Property rights and biotechnology

This course aims at providing students with an understanding of the functioning of the Common Law system through an examination of Property Law as it applies to biological material (DNA, cells, embryos and so on). Through this examination, students will learn about the role of precedent, the role of the judge, how law develops and other fundamental characteristics of the Common Law system. The course will focus on cases and statutes from Canada and the United States dealing with subjects as diverse as mice, human slaves, embryos and human body parts. We will contrast the Common Law approach to these subjects with that in the civil law system and that taken in international agreements.

Module 14 – TRUST


- This course will follow the following scheme :

  • Examination of the history of the relationship between law and equity and the historical origins of the trust, including observations on the social significance of the trust.
  • Explanation of the modern relationship between law and equity and the co-existence of legal and equitable ownership in the trust.
  • A comparison between the trust and other legal ideas, such as gift and contract, with some observations on equivalents of the trust in Non-English jurisdictions.
  • Demonstration as to how a trust is created by express intent
  • Demonstration as to how trusts may arise unintentionally
  • Examination of the relevance of public interests to private trusts
  • Consideration of the fiduciary principle
  • Identification of the obligations of trusteeship, with particular attention to the duty of careful investment
  • Explanation of trustee liability for breach of trust and third party liability for receiving trust property and assisting in breach of trust, including discussion of how misapplied funds are traced.

++++ Tort

Module 3 – TORT LAW I

V. HARPWOOD (CARDIFF UNERSITY) : Introduction to Tort law

- This course will adopt the following scheme :

  • 1.What is tort and what is its place in the common law ? Distinction between tort and criminal law ; tort and contract. Objectives of tort. What interests does the law of tort protect ? Introduction to negligence. The duty to take reasonable care ; historical development ; the function of the neighbour principle.
  • 2. Scope of the duty of care : reasonable foresight and proximity. Other factors affecting the scope of the duty of care : policy ; just and reasonable to impose a duty ?
  • 3. Breach of duty. The standard of care ; the “reasonable man”. Children, beginners, professionals and the “objective” standard.
  • 4.Factors determining the standard of care. Magnitude of the risk : likelihood or probability of the harm occurring ; potential seriousness of the harm if it occurred. Purpose of the defendant’s conduct ; feasibility or practicality of taking the necessary precautions.
  • 5.Causation : linking breach and damage. “But for” test. Simultaneous causes. Successive causes. Novus actus interveniens.
  • 6.Remoteness : controlling the scope of liability. Directness/Reasonable Foreseeability : why was the test changed ? “Eggshell skull” rule. Foreseeable type of injury.
  • 7.Defences : contributory negligence ; consent ; illegality ; self-defence.

- Reading materials :

  • V. Harpwood, Modern Tort Law, London : Cavendish, 2003
  • R. Kidner, Casebook on Torts, Oxford University Press, 2006

Module 8 – TORT LAW II

L. KHOURY (MC GILL UNIVERSITY) : Medical liability

This course is concerned with a dynamic and fundamental subject in the common law curriculum : Medical Liability. It will be devoted to the study of key medical liability issues as they are dealt with in the common law world, which will encompass predominantly the United Kingdom, but will also look at Canada, the United States and Australia. Topics covered will include the doctor-hospital-patient relationship ; medical duty of care, medical fault and causation ; wrongful life, birth, and conception claims ; refusal of treatment ; informed consent ; liability for defective medical and pharmaceutical products ; and no-fault medical liability.

Module 13 – TORT LAW III


Products Liability refers to civil liability for injuries caused by defective products. It occupies a central role in American law, as the number of new products used by consumers has increased exponentially. Accompanying this proliferation of new consumer products is an increase in injuries. It has been estimated that the number of product accidents is approximately 50 million a year. Products liability is a major way that American society attempts to moderate undue risks. Products liability mixes tort law (negligence, strict liability and deceit) and contract law (warranty) as well as statutory law (from the UCC). This course will briefly trace the development of products liability law, and analyze the major issues currently confronting the courts in this area. It will examine the main theories of manufacturer liability, the concept of product defect, and defenses available to the manufacturer. The course will also explore problems of proof and remedies.

++++ Restitution



In the Common Law world, after Contract and Tort, the Law of Restitution for Unjust (or Unjustified) Enrichment is emerging as the third head of the private law of obligations ; it is concerned with those actions which have as their aim the reversal of an unjust or unjustified enrichment. The course therefore considers the common law principle against unjust enrichment. The recommended text-book is Beatson and Schrage (eds)

Reading materials :, Beatson and Schrage (eds) Cases, Materials And Texts on Unjustified Enrichment (Ius Commune Casebooks for the Common Law of Europe) Hart Publishing : Oxford, 2003.

++++ Criminal Law & evidence



The English Criminal Law course will combine study of the basic principles of English criminal law with in-depth analysis of a range of significant crimes and defences, both common law and statutory. The course will start with examination of the two elements of a crime according to traditional academic analysis, actus reus and mens rea.

Strict liability, where mens rea is not required for one or more elements of the crime, vicarious liability, where one individual may be liable for another’s acts or omissions, and criminal liability of corporations will be briefly examined.

The course will then focus in detail on specific crimes which are significant because of their seriousness (murder and defences specific to murder, involuntary manslaughter, rape) or frequency of commission (offences against the person, criminal damage, theft and theft-related offences).

Finally, the course will examine a range of general defences (infancy, insanity, non-insane automatism, selfdefence, mistake, duress and necessity). On successful completion of the course, students will have gained knowledge of the basic principles of English criminal law and of a range of crimes and defences, and the ability to apply knowledge to factual scenarios in a problem-solving context.

Course content :

  • Introduction
  • Actus Reus : conduct and circumstances, liability for omissions, the voluntary nature of the actus reus and automatism, causation
  • Mens Rea : the different types of mens rea, intention, recklessness, negligence, and knowledge
  • Strict liability, vicarious liability, liability of corporations
  • Offences against the person : fatal offences (murder and related defences of provocation and diminished responsibility, involuntary manslaughter), non-fatal offences, and sexual offences
  • Offences against Property : criminal damage, theft, robbery, burglary, deception offences
  • General defences : infancy, insanity, self-defence, mistake, duress, and necessity



The module will address some of the key features of the criminal justice system in the UK, particularly England and Wales.The course will consist of the following elements :

- Criminal Investigations :

  • Powers of Stop, Search and Arrest
  • Powers of Detention
  • Police Questioning
  • The Right to Silence

- Courts and Trials

  • Magistrates and Crown Courts
  • Jury Trial (including Jury Selection and Control of Jury Verdicts)
  • Appeals

- Safeguarding Fairness

  • Abuse of Process Proceedings
  • Exclusion of Evidence

- Sentencing Process (Principles Adopted)

Module 15 – EVIDENCE


This module examines issues relating to the generation and reception of evidence and the processes of proving facts in common law systems. The focus will be primarily in criminal cases, but we will also discuss civil cases to some extent. We will primarily consider the rules used in the United States and England. Topics covered include the burden and standard of proof, evidence of previous misconduct or similar occurrences, hearsay evidence and the right to examine the witnesses against you, expert evidence, the right to silence, confessions, vulnerable and suspect witnesses, identification evidence and improperly obtained evidence.

Reading materials : Andrew Choo, Evidence, Oxford University Press 2006.

++++ Tax Law

Module 9 - Comparative tax systems

M. JAFFE, S. DALE and D. COX (Associés du Cabinet Landwell & Associés))

Comparative Tax systems - UK/France - Indirect Taxes :

Evolution of the main indirect taxes, Value Added Tax and Excise duties in both countries, impact of the entry of the UK into the EU, compared to France’s founding status ; the role of the European Court of Justice and the "direct effect" of EU directives on national legislation.
Gradual shift of the tax burden from direct to indirect taxes, types of taxation being introduced and the governmental policies behind their introduction - whether this be from a "social" perspective or a "business friendly" perspective, and how each state has dealt differently with these issues.

Comparative Tax systems - UK/France - Corporate Taxes :

The course will consider the basis of the UK corporate tax system to include an analysis of how corporate tax is managed in the UK, tax administration, timing of tax payments, the Tax Avoidance Disclosure regime and the basic requirements for corporate tax grouping in each case contrasting with the French system. We will then consider some specific elements of UK case law and how these impacts on the UK tax system, in particular the claiming of tax allowances for capital expenditure to demonstrate how case law impacts on the UK tax system.

Finally, we will look at some of the topical aspects in the UK, including the CFC legislation, financing and the deductibility of interest, stamp duty and stamp duty land tax and the proposed changes to the UK participation exemption regime.

Comparative Tax Systems - US/France - Corporate and Individual Taxes :

The course will consider the basis of the US corporate tax system to include an analysis of how corporate tax is managed in the US, tax administration, timing of tax payments. State taxation and the US approach to International Taxation will also be addressed. We will also cover the basics of Individual Taxation of US citizens abroad as well as Alien taxation. Finally, we will examine the basics of US Estate and Gift Taxation. The course will include a brief description of the US common law system

++++ Family Law

Module 11 – FAMILY LAW

F. MARTIN (CORK UNIVERSITY) : Introduction to Familiy law

Ireland is a Common Law jurisdiction broadly similar to England. Irish Family law is regulated by common law principles, statutory laws and more importantly, constitutional laws. The Irish Constitution has a major influence on how family law is judicially interpreted. The superior courts in Ireland have developed sophisticated legal principles in the context of marriage law and child law. Such judicial activism is the hallmark of a common law regime. This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the academic and legal principles which underpin Irish Family Law. The course will also focus on specific Cases.

- The course adopts the following scheme :

  • 1. The nature and scope of Irish Family Law,
  • 2. The Family, Marriage and the Constitution
  • 3. Formalities and capacity of marriage. Nullity of marriage law
  • 4. Breakdown of marriages : Judicial Separation Decree. 6 options
  • 5. Divorce Law. ‘No-Clean break’ model. Assets, property and finance
  • 6. Child Law. Private Law Aspects.
    • (i) Guardianship
    • (ii) Custody
    • (iii) Access
  • 7. Child Care Law. Public Law aspects
  • 8. Non-Marital Families : recognition/non-recognition principles

++++ English practice



Maître de Conférences d’Anglais, École Nationale d’Administration (ENA), Paris
Bachelor of Arts in History Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

The objective is to get the students speaking in English, but also to get them thinking. I try to pick topics that they’ll want to speak about. The goal is for everyone to speak in every class. Through practice they learn how to better express and defend their views, as well as how to probe and challenge the views of others. Some reading of the International press is required, and vocabulary is developed in the areas of law, politics, and society. v6 '2011 | Mentions légales