The articles assembled in this issue of the Electronic Journal of Comparative Law reproduce a selection of the papers presented at a conference held at the University of Edinburgh in June 2003. The conference drew together representatives of the Ius Commune Research School, in particular contributors from the Universities of Maastricht and Utrecht, with colleagues from the Scottish Universities. A notable and welcome feature of the event was the participation of several practising lawyers and members of the judiciary.
A major theme of the conference was Contract Law, in acknowledgment of the publication in February 2003 of the European Commission's Action Plan on Contract Law.(1) The other topics explored were Property Law, Medical Law, Intellectual Property and Procedure.
The conference took the form of round-table sessions. Its approach was resolutely comparative, integrating discussion of the modern Ius Commune tradition with that of Scots and Dutch private law. The conference opened with the past and closed with the future. In the opening lecture, Professor John Cairns described the experiences of Scots law students studying in Leiden and Utrecht in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A day and a half later, Professor Jan Smits drew matters to a close with reflections on mixed legal systems generally and Scots law in particular as models for the bringing together of Common Law and Civil Law traditions in Europe. Professor Smits' analysis, which is included in this issue, follows upon the work of comparatists such as Lévy-Ullman,(2) Zweigert and Kötz,(3) and Zimmermann. Hector MacQueen has previously argued in the columns of this journal that the law of Scotland and the other mixed jurisdictions merit particular attention from 'those following the road to what is sometimes described as the new ius commune of Europe'.(4)
The papers which follow represent a cross-section of the different themes discussed. An equally valuable part of the proceedings from a comparative standpoint was the lively and stimulating across-table discussion which followed the formal papers. That, unfortunately, cannot be reproduced here, but it will doubtless have made its mark in informing future papers from those who attended.
1. 'A More Coherent European Contract Law - An Action Plan', COM(2003) 68 final.
2. H Lévy-Ullmann (trans F P Walton), 'The Law of Scotland', (1925) 37 Juridical Review, at p. 390.
3. K Zweigert and H Kötz, Introduction to Comparative Law, trans T Weir, 3rd edn (Oxford, 1998), p. 204.