The Legal Studies department at Central European University hosted on September 25 the Symposium Reform of Secured Transactions Laws – Chinese and European Experiences Compared. This event focused on current reforms of secured transactions law and its global and local perspectives, comparing reforms in European countries as well as in China.

The Symposium was organised by the Department of Legal Studies at Central European University (CEU) together with the China-EU School of Law (CESL), which is a unique project and school for China-EU legal education, research and professional training and a platform for dialogue and exchange. CESL is based on an international governmental agreement by between China and the European Union. 

The timing of this Symposium could not be better given the increasing acknowledgment by states of the influence Secured Transactions law has on economic growth. Countries of the world made several attempts to reform their laws, the reform of Secured Transactions laws becoming one of the top priorities for many national systems on all continents and for various international organisations. 

In the context, the symposium tried to offer a thorough overview of the current situation, by inviting some of the most prolific Secured Transactions experts, who flew from all over the world: Prof. Armin Hatje, professor for Public Law and European Law at the University of Hamburg, who opened the conference; Prof. Louise Gullifer, Professor of Commercial Law at Oxford University and the executive director of the Secured Transaction Law Reform Project; Prof. Ignacio Tirado, Professor of Corporate and Insolvency Law at the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid (Spain), Senior Legal Consultant at the World Bank’s Financial Sector Practice and Consultant on insolvency-related matters to the IMF’s Legal Department; Dr. Ole Boeger; Judge at the Landgericht Bremen and the Federal Ministry of Justice as well as for Consumer Protection in Berlin, and member of the drafting team of DCFR Book IX; Drs. Frederic Helsen, PhD researcher at the Institute for Commercial and Insolvency Law at KU Leuven, Belgium; Prof. Yong Wang, professor and director at the Institute of Business Law at the China University of Political Science and Law; Prof. Li Shuguang, the founder and the director of the Bankruptcy Law and Restructuring Research Center, the Executive Dean of the Graduate School of the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL), and the Deputy Director of Legislative Application Institute of the Supreme People’s Court of China. 

The conference also attracted some of the local experts, such as Prof. Attila Menyhárd, Assistant Professor of Civil Law and Head of the Civil Law Department at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest, as well as Prof. Tibor Tajti, Professor of Law at Central European University and head of the International Business Law Program, who was in fact the one who initiated and organized the entire event. Moreover, two alumni of the CEU Legal Studies department - International Business Law stream, Alexandra Horváthová S.J.D. and Cătălin Gabriel Stănescu S.J.D. completed the list of speakers with their presentations on the Slovakian, respectively Romanian recent reforms in the field. 

The topics covered at the conference varied from offering an overview over the current regional and international framework of Secured Transactions Law, by analysing the UNCITRAL solutions, the European Draft Common Frame of Reference, the US Uniform Commercial Code, and the English system, to presenting the approach taken by China, specifically with regards to the Secured Transactions reforms undertaken in China so far and the floating charge system in place. The Symposium also offered some insights into the experiences of three major Central and Eastern European countries - Hungary, Romania and Slovakia - that have in the past two decades reformed their Secured Transactions laws. The audience, comprised of legal professionals interested in the topics chosen for discussion, legal researchers, and young academics, was encouraged to ask questions and make comments after every session, transforming the Symposium into the go-to forum for discussions and debate in the field of ST reform. 

We asked some of the speakers and participants at the conference to share from their experience. Alexandra Horváthová, SJD in International Business Law in 2015, talked about the post-1990 Secured Transactions reforms in Slovakia and chaired one of the discussion panels. Dr. Horváthová’s central field of interest is the law of finance, including secured transactions, financial regulation and private equity. She considers the area of secured transactions law 'a dynamic field of law that is essential for any economy and we should continue to try for the most effective regulation.' According to Dr. Horváthová, the Symposium was 'an excellent opportunity to meet and discuss the novel and former ideas in secured transaction law that have been applied in diverse jurisdictions all over the world. It is always beneficial to meet, analytically dismantle the ideas and subsequently assess them from diverse perspectives. (...) We all left the symposium this year with many stimulating ideas.'

The conference was of interest for some of CEU’s alumni as well. Albana Karapanco (Albania), CEU Legal Studies graduate of 2015, explained her reasons for attending the conference: ‘During my Master studies In International Business Law I started having a particular interest in Secured Transactions Law due to the course taught in the third module. Having in mind the importance of the topic especially for the emerging markets and the high attention given to the secured transactions law reform in many jurisdictions, I decided to attend the Conference.'Flying from Tirana particularly for this conference, she found it ‘very valuable’. For her, one of the biggest selling points was the line-up of guests whose presentations explored some of the most challenging aspects of ST laws nowadays: ‘[The Symposium] brought together a panel of distinguished professors from institutions worldwide and it provided an insight of different legal systems. I believe that the presentations and interactive discussions gave food for thought to attendants interested in the topic.'

The Symposium was also attended by students whose area of research is not connected to Secured Transactions law, but who considered it to be an opportunity to expand their academic horizons. Debjyoti Ghosh (India), SJD Candidate in Constitutional Law without any prior knowledge about this field of law, explained how this conference opened new perspectives for him, making him acknowledge the importance of analysing and comparing different frameworks and legal systems. 'For a novice like me, the conference on Secured Transactions posed a very interesting juxtaposition of different jurisdictions with different yet similar systems and the need for a common frame of reference, much like the way we frame rights within the frameworks of constitutions, while keeping in mind universal rights’ documents. It was extremely interesting and informative, and made me look into secured transactions in India, and how it has been reformed over the years keeping in mind international norms.'

More information about the speakers and conference can be found here.