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Profileringsvak: English Contract Law


Admission requirements

Bachelor degree in law and sufficient knowledge of the English language.

Note: This course is strongly recommended for attending the course Privatissimum: English Contract Law.


This course will study in detail certain aspects of the English law of contract, including formation, breach and remedies.
The principal working method is the analysis of cases (court decisions) in order to ascertain the law, and then the application of the law to hypothetical fact situations (practical problem questions). The fundamental rules of English contract law are not contained in any statutory text, but in the common law—the law which has been devised and developed by the courts over the centuries. Statutes have intervened to change particular common law rules relating to contract law. But the fundamental rules are found in cases, including cases dating back to the 19th century or even earlier.

The background to the particular cases which we shall study in detail is found in textbooks. The book which students will find particularly useful is:

J. Cartwright, Contract Law: An Introduction to the English Law of Contract for the Civil Lawyer (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2007; 2nd edition due 2013).

Course objectives

The purpose will be not only to discover the essential nature of English Contract Law, but also to use the law of contract as a starting point for learning about legal reasoning and how to find and apply the law in a common law system. There will be an opportunity to compare this method with the civil lawyer’s approach to legal reasoning, as well as to compare differences between English law and the law of other common law jurisdictions (such as the United States and Australia).

At the end of this course, students have a good understanding of the nature and content of English Contract Law and the differences between the common lawyer’s and the civil lawyer’s approach to legal reasoning.

Mode of instruction



  • Number of (2 hour) seminars: 10 (two seminars each week)

  • Required preparation by students: Mandatory weekly reading assignments. Students are required to read the relevant sections of J. Cartwright, Contract Law (see below) together with two cases which are printed in the Reader, and to prepare in advance hypothetical problem questions. During class meetings Prof. Cartwright will expect students to participate in discussing the cases which have been read, and to discuss how to apply the law to the problem questions.

Assessment method

Examination form(s) : 3-hour written examination (closed book: no notes or course documents allowed; questions will be in English and answers are to be written in English).

The retake will most likely be a written exam.

Submission procedures


Areas to be tested within the exam

The general principles of English contract law, with a focus on the particular topics covered in the seminars; the techniques of analyzing English cases and of applying the law to hypothetical problem questions.


More information on this course is offered in “Blackboard”:

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

Reader: English Contract Law

J. Cartwright, Contract Law: An Introduction to the English Law of Contract for the Civil Lawyer (Hart Publishing, Oxford, most recent edition).


See uSis.

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: M.W. Knigge

  • Work address: KOG, Steenschuur 25

  • Contact information: Room C 2.08

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 7086

  • E-mail:


  • Institute: Private Law

  • Department: Civil Law

  • Room number secretary: KOG, C 2.02

  • Opening hours: 9.00 – 13:30 hrs

  • Telephone number secretariat: 071 – 527 7381

  • E-mail:




Belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van contractonderwijs willen volgen (met tentamen), kunnen meer informatie vinden over kosten, inschrijving, voorwaarden, etc. op de website van Juridisch PAO.