nl en

C) English Contract Law


Admission requirements

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


This course will study in detail certain aspects of the English law of contract (in particular commercial contract law, by which is meant business to business transactions), including the formation of contracts, the doctrine of consideration, third party rights of action, , the role of good faith and of equity in the law of contract, the scope of the doctrine of duress and the extent to which a contract can be set aside on the ground that it was entered into under economic duress, , the remedies available to a commercial party who is induced to enter into a contract by a false statement made by the other party to the contract, the principles applied by the courts to the interpretation of contracts, the doctrine of frustration and change of circumstances and remedies for breach of contract (including termination of the contract).

The principal working method is the analysis of cases (court decisions) in order to ascertain the law that is established by that case and, prompted by the questions contained in the reading list, to examine the limits of, and the basis for, these decisions. The fundamental rules of English contract law are not contained in any statutory text, but are to be found principally 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 and in modern times have intervened increasingly in the context of consumer contracts (a topic which will not be considered in this course). But the fundamental rules are found in cases, including cases dating back to the 19th century or even earlier.

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 Singapore, the United States and Australia).There will be three pre-recorded lectures on the English legal system which will provide an introduction to the course (including how to read a case) and these lectures should, if possible, be viewed before the course commences.

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


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

There will be three pre-recorded lectures on the English legal system which will provide an introduction to the course (including how to read a case) and these lectures should, if possible, be viewed before the course commences.


  • 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 E. McKendrick's Contract Law: Text Cases and Materials (see below). The reading list will direct students to the small number of cases that will be the focus of attention in the class and will also set out a list of questions to be considered in advance of the class. During class meetings Prof. McKendrick will expect students to participate in discussing the cases which have been assigned and to discuss the answers to the questions to be found in the reading list.

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • 3-hour written examination (open book; questions will be in English and answers are to be written in English).

  • The retake will be a written exam.

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 assessing their implications and limits.

Regulation retake passed exams
In this course it is possible to retake an exam that has been passed (cf. art. and further of the Course and Examination Regulations). Students who have passed the exam may retake the final written assessment (test) of the course if they meet certain requirements. To retake a passed exam, students need to ask the Student Administration Office (OIC) for permission. For more information, go to 'course and exam enrollment' > 'permission for retaking a passed exam' on the student website.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • Reader: English Contract Law

  • The background to the particular cases which will be studied in detail (see ‘Description’) is found in textbooks. The book which students will be expected to use is: E. McKendrick, Contract Law: Text Cases and Materials (10th ed. OUP, 2022). In the past there have been delays in delivery of the book to the Netherlands. You are accordingly advised that, if you wish to purchase the book, you should do so as soon as possible and not wait until the course is about to commence.


Registration for courses and exams takes place via MyStudymap. If you do not have access to MyStudymap (guest students), look here (under the Law-tab) for more information on the registration procedure in your situation.  



  • Institute: Private Law

  • Department: Civil Law

  • Room number secretary: KOG, B2.43

  • Opening hours: 9.00 – 17.00 hrs

  • Telephone number secretariat: 071 – 527 7400

  • E-mail: