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C) Profileringsvak: 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, including formation, terms of the contract, breach and remedies.

The principal working method is the analysis of cases (court decisions) in order to ascertain the law 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 the United States and Australia).

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.


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.

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 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 caes which have been read 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.

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 assessing their implications and limits.


More information on this course is offered in “Blackboard”: http://blackboard.leidenuniv.nl/.

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 (8th ed. OUP, 2018).


See uSis.

Contact information


  • 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: mastercivielrecht@law.leidenuniv.nl