Is also included in other courses
The first part of the course examines to what extent the ECJ has helped harmonise national legal systems in the Member States through its case law. This part focuses mainly upon an area where the ECJ has been very active, i.e. judicial protection. The ECJ's actions (or inaction) will be studied, as well as the influence thereof upon national legal systems.
The influence of the ECJ on unification or harmonisation of national laws will appear to be real but limited. That being so, one wonders what other ways might exist to further harmonisation without necessarily imposing it. The method favoured here is the one promoted at this Law Faculty through a series of "Ius Commune Casebooks for the Common Law of Europe" and by the Leuven Centre for a Common Law of Europe. It consists in starting out from common situations (e.g. a business losing money as a result of an accidental power cut) which have led to court cases under different national legal systems. By comparing the reasoning and the outcome of these court cases, one may come to realise that legal systems which appear to be very different at first, are nevertheless built around a core of common principles.
The second half of the course is spent on looking for such principles in the area of tort law. That area is chosen because - contrary to e.g. the area of contract - it allows to derive a core of common principles not only from abundant case law at the national level but also from ECJ judgements.
As may have become clear, case law rather than legislation will be in the centre of attention. In that sense, the words "common law" in the course's title have a double meaning: we search for ius commune, principles common to different national (or national and supranational) legal systems, and do so by giving priority to case law, just like in "common law" countries.
This is not a traditional EC law course nor a traditional comparative law course, but rather a course where the interaction between EC and comparative law is studied.