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Leiden University: Master of Advanced Studies in European Business Law

Programmes 3 June 2007, 00:00

The Master’s Programme of Advanced Studies in European Business Law is aimed, in particular, at lawyers who wish to specialize in the area of European Business Law.

The Master’s Programme of Advanced Studies in European Business Law is aimed, in particular, at lawyers who wish to specialize in the area of European Business Law (See Admissions Criteria), and who already are, or desire to become, international legal practitioners in internationally operating law firms, companies or organizations, research institutions or in national governments.

In addition, the programme has been designed for recent international graduates in law who wish to pursue advanced studies at a postgraduate level as well as engaging in a PhD. The essence of the programme is on the impact of the law of the EU on government and enterprises in a global economy, and its repercussions on, and interaction with, other international institutions, in particular the World Trade Organization.

Although EU Law nowadays touches on virtually all aspects of international commerce and its legal rules, some areas are more affected than others. The programme comprises those areas where the impact of the EU is the strongest.

Overall Academic Objective

In today’s globalizing world, the legal framework for doing business is itself increasingly of an international nature. Over time, an important body of International Business Law has developed, i.e. rules of International Law that are relevant for cross-border business transactions.

This international legal framework is complex for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it is multi-layered in that different levels of International Business Law exist and interact. Thus, there are relevant rules on the global level (e.g. the law of the World Trade Organization, wto) and on the regional level (e.g. the law of the North American Free Trade Association, nafta, and the law of the European Union, EU, and of its most important pillar, the European Community, EC).

The fact that the two levels are intertwined and interacting means that International Business Law practice demands a thorough knowledge of both levels (i.e. in connection with business related to the area of the European Union, of EU/EC Law and of Global Law, such as wto Law).

Additional challenges are posed by the fact that the law of the European Union – which is the central focus point of the programme – is particularly complex in itself as well as extremely dynamic. EU/EC Law has developed considerably over the past decennia.

Today, it is a highly sophisticated and complex system based on the rule of law. It continues to develop as a result of a number of factors, including, in particular, political development and case law from the Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

EU Law contains numerous rules that regulate international business transactions, but does not provide a coherent body of unified common business law. Instead, the EU, and more specifically the EC (which provides most of the relevant economic law), employs different approaches to bring about economic integration among its member states in selected, though at the same time expanding, fields.

Primary EC Law or Treaty rules, which are normally mere prohibitions (in particular prohibitions of obstacles to the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital, as well as prohibitions of distortions of competition), play together with secondary EC Law that takes the form of Directives and Regulations and regulates specific fields (e.g. production rules for goods, selected aspects of Company Law, Taxation Law and Intellectual Property Law).

Much of this secondary level of legislation approaches the national legal systems of the different member states to each other (harmonization), rather than unifying them. This in turn has important implications for the reach and content of Member State Law that is relevant for international business transactions. National law must respect EU/EC Law as a higher source of law. At the same time, national legislators may regulate business-related matters insofar as EU/EC Law leaves them room for action.

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