Why should you attend the Salzburg Summer School on European Private Law?
In a legal society which is trying to remove juridical borders and harmonise legislation, it is crucial for a law student to acknowledge, to challenge, but above all, to understand surrounding realities, in his or her quest for the development of a juridical critical thinking.
In this respect, and taking into consideration the high importance of an international environment upon any law practitioner’s future career, it is obvious that participation in multicultural programmes is essential for the completion of a student’s education.
Such a programme is the Summer School on European Private Law, which takes place every year in Salzburg, Austria. The Summer School is a 2-week Erasmus intensive programme, in association with the Faculty of Law at the University of Salzburg, focusing on European systems of private law.
Lectures, workshops, and round tables
This year’s 15th edition of the Summer School began with a historical introduction lecture, held by Professor Dr. J.M. Rainer, director of the Salzburg Summer School on European Private Law.
During the first week of the Summer School, a broad attention was paid to the harmonisation of European private law, with a focus on the cultural and linguistic barriers. The debates concerned whether it is possible to attain maximum harmonisation, by the implementation of a European law, or maintain party autonomy, by preserving national law.
In this respect, the research projects which aim at creating a unique European private law were briefly presented, among which the Commission on European Contract Law, the Study Group on a European Civil Code, the Common Core of European Private Law Project (Trento Group), the Society of European Contract Law (SECOLA), the Acquis Group, and the DCFR (the academic product of the COPECL). A great emphasis was laid on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a Common European Sales Law (CESL). The CESL generated a vivid debate among professors and students, regarding its scope: the harmonisation of national contract law, the creation of a second law regime for contracts within each Member State’s national law, and its existence alongside the national contract law, which would ultimately lead to the creation of a cross-border contract.
Afterwards, the students had the opportunity to attend the lecture on the European Court of Justice case law in the field of European Private Law, held by Professor Dr. Verica Trstenjak, from the University of Vienna, and former Advocate General at the European Court of Justice. The presentation also tackled the legal issues connected to the conclusion of online contracts, such as jurisdiction for the online contract, consumer rights, responsibility of the consumer in case of return of goods, compensation for the goods in case of withdrawal from the contract, data protection, credit card payment, and the infringement procedure, with a focus on the Messner, Alpenhof, Scarlet Extended, and Google Spain cases.
At the Summer School official opening the same week, two captivating lectures were held by Dr. Savvas Papasavvas, who is a Judge at the General Court of the EU, and President of the 5th Chamber, and by Lord Thomas, who is the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. Judge Wolfgang Filip, President of the Salzburg District Court, also gave a brief presentation of the Austrian Court system. Professor Bernhard Koch from the University of Innsbruck gave a presentation on European Tort Law, while Professor Dr. Günter Herzig, from the University of Salzburg, held a lecture on the Jurisdiction of European Courts.
A wide variety of legal systems was presented during the Summer School in the 2nd week: Croatia, Slovenia, Louisiana, Canada, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Northern Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Scotland, Malta, Estonia, Sweden, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Hungary, Greece, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Russia, Spain, Finland, Denmark, Turkey, Portugal, Poland, Argentina, Italy, and Switzerland. All the courses were taught in English, with the courses on Spain, France, Hungary and Greece also available in Spanish, French, respectively German. In order to receive the graduation certificate, students had to attend the obligatory lectures on German, French, and Austrian legal systems, as well as the course on the English common law system.
Attendance was also mandatory at the three workshops: 'Transfer of title', 'Breach of contract', and 'Family Law'. Students were able to enroll at the workshops in the language of their choice (English, German, or French), depending on their linguistic competences. The interactive discussions among students and professors were based on specific case studies, and a comparative law approach was adopted, since every student had the possibility to present an appropriate solution, according to his or her legal system. Thus, the workshops represented a unique opportunity for students and teachers to address and debate different legal issues.
Following the lectures and the workshops, an input was provided by professors within the round tables, and the students had the chance of actively participating in the debates. The round tables tackled legal subject matters such as 'Harmonisation of European Law', 'Law and Language', 'Mixed legal systems', and 'How to make a new Civil Code', resuming with the final round table on 'Ius commune to harmonisation of European Private Law and the difficulties of languages'.
The Law Faculty of the University of Salzburg is located in the heart of the historic city of Salzburg, home of Mozart, in the Toskanatrakt. Besides Summer School-related activities, students can also visit the magnificent city of Salzburg, which was listed in 1997 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city provides several sightseeing opportunities, among which the Historic Centre, the Hohensalzburg Castle, cathedrals and churches, Mozart’s Birthplace and Residence, or the Mirabell Palace.
In the second week of the Summer School, a visit to the Salzburg District Court was organised, during which students were given a tour of the Court and they received answers to their question regarding Austrian law.
Four dinners were also offered by the host institution, which represented a great platform for students to interact, debate, and exchange opinions about different legal systems. During the weekend, the organisers also planned a trip to Hellbrunn, near Salzburg. The students enjoyed the walk around the park, the tricky fountains, and they admired the beauty of the Hellbrunn Castle.
Two European evenings were hosted during the Summer School, as well. Each group of students was asked to make a traditional presentation of their country, including sketches and different activities, such as singing traditional songs, performing typical dances, presenting traditional costumes or food.
Throughout the Summer School, students were very much encouraged to actively participate at the debates, thus enhancing their public speaking, legal reasoning, and argumentation techniques. Beyond being just an academic experience, the Salzburg Summer School on European Private Law represents a multicultural and enriching opportunity for students to establish connections with their peers from all parts of the world (there were approximately 150 participants from 30 countries), which will lead to the creation of an alumni network.