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Reasons and Context in Comparative Law: Workshop to mark the retirement of Professor John Bell

A conference held at Murray Edwards College on 19-20 September 2019.

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CELS 25th Anniversary Conference: The Past, Present and Future of European Legal Studies

On 15th September 2017, the Centre for European Legal Studies held a conference to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the formation of the Centre. The conference, entitled "The Past, Present and Future of European Legal Studies" brought EU legal academics together, many of them former members or Directors, to discuss the future direction of EU legal research.

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Network on Britain in Europe (NEWBIE)

Launched in 2015 as a joint initiative between the Centre for European Legal Studies (Faculty of Law) and the European Centre (Department of Politics and International Studies), the aim of the Network on Britain in Europe is to foster cross-disciplinary linkages and activities in the study of the UK’s relationship with Europe, with a particular focus on the changing political economy of Europe.

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Conference: The Euro-Crisis as a Multi-Dimensional Systemic Failure of the EU

A two-day Conference, Centre for European Legal Studies, University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law

31 March - 1 April 2016

The Centre for European Legal Studies (CELS) is organising a multidisciplinary conference exploring the many crises the EU faces. The theme of the conference is the contextualisation of the Eurocrisis, and the exploration of a broader systemic background that might have created or fostered it. Various perspectives (doctrinal, theoretical, empirical and institutional) from an array of social science disciplines will be explored during the event - with the Eurocrisis acting as the basis for discussion.

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2nd Cambridge-Monckton Chambers Roundtable: 'The Article 50 Litigation', 10 November 2016


  • Philip Moser QC
  • Anneli Howard
  • Jack Williams
  • Professor Kenneth Armstrong
  • Professor Mark Elliott

'What's in Cameron's baskets and why does it matter?', 8 February 2016

CELS organised a seminar to discuss the draft decision aimed at keeping the UK in the EU.

  • Professor Kenneth Armstrong: Baskets 1 and 2: Competitiveness and Governance;
  • Dr Julie Smith: Basket 3: Sovereignty;
  • Professor Catherine Barnard: Basket 4: Social Benefits and Free Movement;
  • Dr Markus Gehring: What's difficult about the baskets for other Member States?;
  • Dr Albertina Albors-Llorens: If the proposals are adopted how enforceable would they be anyway?



EU Internet Regulation After Google Spain

A One-Day Conference at the University of Cambridge, 27 March 2015

This one-day conference, made possible as a result of a kind donation from Hogan Lovells, explored the implications of C-131/12 Google Spain; Google v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD), Mario Costeja González (2014), the Court of Justice of the European Union's long awaited "right to be forgotten" case. Although directly focused on search engines, this key judgment has wider implications. Sessions therefore explored not only the future of search engines’ data protection obligations but also the general shape of EU regulation of the internet, questions related to jurisdiction and applicable law and the historic pathway to the Google Spain judgment.

Speakers/panelists included Professor Artemi Rallo Lombarte (former Director of the Spanish Data Protection Authority), William Malcolm (Senior Privacy Counsel at Google), Eduardo Ustaran (Partner, Hogan Lovells), David Smith (UK Deputy Information Commissioner) and Professor Dr. Johannes Caspar (Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information). Willem Debeuckelaere, President of the Belgium Data Protection Authority, delivered a keynote presentation on the changing landscape for search engines after Google Spain.



Britain and Europe: Political and Economic Repercussions of the Crisis
23 June 2015, The Wolfson Room, British Academy, London

A future referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU will be shaped by the trajectory taken by the EU itself. The Eurozone remains economically stagnant. Established parties in France, Spain, Italy and Greece are in crisis with new movements challenging national political establishments. EU institutions have been transformed by the crisis; some have been strengthened, others have been weakened. The future of Britain’s relationship to the EU will be shaped by the evolution and performance of the Eurozone, the changing institutional architecture of the EU, and the crisis of party democracy faced by many EU member states. This conference, organized by the Cambridge-based collaborative network on Britain in Europe (NEWBIE) and jointly funded by the ESRC ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ initiative and the University of Cambridge, will examine and debate these themes in detail.


09:30 - 09:45: Welcome address from NEWBIE steering committee members

09:45 - 11:15: Panel 1: Crisis in the Eurozone: Does it Matter for Britain?

Chair: Ferdinando Giugliano (Financial Times, Leader writer on economics)

Dr Dermot Hodson (Birkbeck, University of London)
Dr Monique Ebell (Research Fellow, NIESR)
Professor Nicolas Crafts (University of Warwick)
Dr Henning Meyer (Social Europe)

11:15 - 11:30: Coffee break

11:30 - 13:00: Panel 2: Europe’s Changing Institutional Landscape: Implications for Britain?

Chair: John Peet (Europe editor, The Economist)

Dr Christina Reh (University College, London)
Professor Hussein Kassim (University of East Anglia, ESRC Senior Fellow)

13:00 - 14:00: Lunch

14:00 - 15:30: Panel 3: The Politics of Crisis: Lessons from Britain and Europe

Chair: Quentin Peel (Financial Times/Mercator Senior Fellow at Chatham House)

Professor Brigit Laffan (European University Institute, Florence)
Professor Drew Scott (University of Edinburgh)
Professor Kevin Featherstone (London School of Economics)
Professor Christian Lequesne (Sciences Po, Paris)

15:30 - 16:00: Coffee break

16:00-17:00: Keynote speaker (TBC)

The Future of Registered Partnerships Conference 10-11 July

In many jurisdictions registered partnerships were introduced either as a functional equivalent to marriage for same-sex couples or as an alternative to marriage open to all couples. As marriage is opened up to same-sex couples in an increasing number of jurisdictions, this raises the question of what the future of registered partnership should be. Is there a function or indeed a need for another form of formalised adult relationship besides marriage?

This research project and conference will look at the different approaches taken in several jurisdictions which range from abolishing registered partnership to retaining it as an alternative formalised relationship to marriage. Leading family law experts from 14 European and non-European countries will present the law of their jurisdiction and explain the history and function of registered partnership in their own family law system. This will then allow for the drawing of conclusions about the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches. It will also provide the basis for an informed discussion on the way forward for jurisdictions that are about to review their registered partnership regimes and the recognition of adult relationships in general.



Brown-Bag Seminar

Professor Pablo Fernández Carballo-Calero (University of Vigo (Spain)/CELS Visitor Scholar) gave a brown bag seminar to the title of "The Regulation of Aggressive Commercial Practices in the European Union".  The talk took place on Wednesday 6th May from 1-2pm in the Faculty of Law.


Monckton/Cambridge Roundtable - Implementing the Rule of Law: Effective Judicial Protection and the General Court in EU Sanctions Cases - 6 May 2015

Following the Kadi judgment of the European Court of Justice, it has fallen to the General Court to ensure that the rule of law is implemented in cases concerning the listing of individuals alleged to have connections with terrorist organisations and whose assets within the EU have been frozen. Two dimensions of this task are explored in this roundtable event. The first is illustrated by the judgment of the General Court in Case T 306/10 Yusef v Commission, and highlights the role of the General Court in setting legal boundaries and timeframes for the assessments conducted by the European Commission in reviewing the arguments and evidence presented by claimants seeking to be delisted from UN sanctions regimes. The second issue relates to the conduct of proceedings before the General Court itself. Amendments to its Rules of Procedure agreed in February 2015 concern the handling of confidential information or material particularly in circumstances affecting the security of the Union or the Member States. This issue has arisen in the context of litigation challenging EU sanctions, and draws attention to the manner in which the General Court manages attempts by parties to proceedings not to disclose certain sensitive information. The aim of this roundtable was to look at the aftermath of Kadi and the central role of the General Court both in demanding that the European Commission implement the rule of law and as an institution in its own right whose proceedings must also seek to uphold the rule of law while balancing competing interests.

Particpants included: The Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Arden, Philip Moser QC, Paul Lasok QC, Professor Panos Koutrakos, Dr Eva Nanopoulos, and Professor Takis Tridimas.


Evening Seminar - Dyzenhaus in conversation with Christodoulidis: "Legacies of the Enlightenment, the Ideal of Constitutionalism and the Sources of Modern Crises"

Professor David Dyzenhaus (Professor of Law and Philosophy & Albert Abel Chair, University of Toronto/Arthur Goodhart Visiting Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge) and Professor Emilios Christodoulidis (Chair of Jurisprudence, University of Glasgow) sought to explore the normative foundations of modern constitutionalism and contemporary crises by going back to the basics: the ideas of the Enlightenment, their evolution and the powerful multiple effect they still have today in this evening seminar which took place on Tuesday 12th May at the Faculty of Law.


One-Day Conference on "EU Internet Regulation After Google Spain"
27th March 2015, University of Cambridge ~ #dpnet15

This one-day conference, made possible by the kind support of Hogan Lovells, explored the implications of C-131/12 Google Spain; Google v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD), Mario Costeja González (2014), the Court of Justice of the European Union's long awaited "right to be forgotten" case.  Although directly focused on search engines, this key judgment had wider implications.  Sessions, therefore, explored not only the future of search engines’ data protection obligations but also the general shape of EU regulation of the internet, questions related to jurisdiction and applicable law and the historic pathway to the Google Spain judgment.

Programme (includings speakers/panellists)

Session 1: The Pathway to Google Spain
Both the breadth and depth of the Google judgment came as a surprise to many within the internet community. And yet, far from emerging in the vacuum, it built upon both general concepts in European data protection and particular concerns around free-text retrieval systems of public domain data which date back to the early 1980s. Moreover, since the early 2000s, the Court of Justice of the European Union has been building up a corpus of EU data protection jurisprudence increasingly based on the idea of data protection as a fundamental right overlapping with, but also distinct from, a traditional right to privacy. This reality was also strongly apparent in the Court’s recent case striking down the Data Retention Directive. The first panel explored this broader background and context.

Session 2: The Changing Landscape for Search Engines After Google Spain
The Google judgment directly concerned the responsibilities of search engines vis-à-vis processing of public content, most notably through the actualization of a right to erase personal results in certain circumstances (the “right to be forgotten”). This panel explored the developments to date, and potential future trajectories, of these now confirmed data protection rights and obligations.

Session 3: The General Shape of EU Internet Regulation After Google Spain
Whilst the Google judgment directly considered data protection vis-à-vis search engines, it is clear that its broad understanding of personal data, data controllers and data protection as a fundamental right have significant implications for the general ecosystem of the internet especially as regards data aggregators, online forums, rating websites and social networking sites. This session explored the various aspects of this broader substantive context.

Session 4: Jurisdiction, Applicable Law and Beyond After Google Spain
The Google judgment found that the Google search engine was subject to Spanish data protection law since its processing was "inextricably linked" and therefore took place "in the context of" its Spanish advertising subsidiary. Given that the Directive states that "where the same controller is established on the territory of several Member States, he must take the necessary measures to ensure that each of these establishments complies with obligations laid down by the national law applicable" (Art. 4 (1) (b)), this finding is arguably difficult to square with insistence of many European Data Protection Authorities' that companies such as Facebook need generally only comply with one national data protection law within the EU and not with the data protection laws of other EU Member States. At the same time, even though the Court refused to discuss whether using a national domain name and/or using robots to access European websites would trigger EU law on the basis of a "use of equipment", the judgment also opens up the possibility of many activities taking place entirely outside the EU being subject to EU data protection requirements. These complex but important issues were explored here. This final panel also touched upon the likely future shape of the law under the proposed General Data Protection Regulation, especially but not only vis-à-vis applicable law and jurisdiction.

Audio Recordings of #dpnet event




CELS Lunchtime Seminars

Dr Maksymilian Del Mar (Queen Mary University of London) delievered a seminar entitled "Mainly Optimistic: Neil MacCormick on Politics in the European Union".  The talk took place on Wednesday 30th April at 1pm in the Faculty of Law.

Dr Carl Baudenbacher (President EFTA Court) delivered a seminar entitled "Decentered Integration".  The talk took place on Wednesday 7th May at 1pm in the Faculty of Law.

Dr Julian Ghosh QC (Pump Court Chambers) delivered a seminar entitled "The Internal Market Case Law: A Tax Perspective; A Critique of a "Two Country" Approach and Mutual Recognition".  The talk took place on Wednesday 14th May at 1pm in the Faculty of Law.




CELS Lunchtime Seminars

Professor Carlos Moreiro, (University Carlos III de Madrid) delivered a seminar entitled "The Legal and Institutional Consequences of the Financial Crisis in Spain".  The talk took place on Wednesday 1st May at 1pm in the Faculty of Law.  

Professor Philip Allott, (Emeritus Professor of International Public Law, University of Cambridge) delivered a seminar entitled "The EU and the Decline of European Civilisation".  The talk took place on Tuesday 7th May at 1pm in the Faculty of Law.  

Dr Norbert Varga (University of Szeged, Hungary) delivered a CELS lunchtime seminar entitled "Citizenship in Europe or European Citizenship: Development of the Concept of Citizenship", on Thursday 14th November 2013. 


Workshop on the Legal Aspects of the 'Right to be Forgotten'

9 April 2013, Moller Centre, Cambridge

Workshop on the Legal Aspects of the 'Right to be Forgotten'The Data Protection Regulation proposed in January 2012 by the European Commission would introduce a ‘right to be forgotten’ into European data protection law. There has been lively discussion about the legal nature of the right to be forgotten, its relationship to other rights and interests, and its implications for society and for the Internet. Bringing together a select group of academic experts, this workshop organised by the CELS explored the legal issues (particularly those under European Union law) of the proposed right.

Summary of Main Points

The Data Protection Regulation proposed in January 2012 by the European Commission would introduce a ‘right to be forgotten’ into European data protection law. There has been a lively discussion about the nature of the right to be forgotten, its relationship to other rights and interests, and its implications for society and the Internet. Bringing together a select group of academic experts in law and information technology, the Centre for European Legal Studies of the University of Cambridge organized a workshop to explore the relevant legal issues.

The following is a summary of the main points and questions raised during the workshop:


Session 1: Nature of the right to be forgotten

  • The roots of the right to be forgotten reach back into national laws allowing the deletion of convictions or suspicions from a person’s criminal record after a certain amount of time has passed (the so-called ‘right to oblivion’), some of which date back to previous centuries. However, such laws do not fulfill the same purpose as does the right to be forgotten.
  • Basic principles taken from fundamental rights law (such as the principle of proportionality) are key to interpreting and understanding the right to be forgotten. It is however unclear whether such concepts should be interpreted positively (e.g., whether there should be an assumption that data should be deleted after a certain length of time), or whether these determinations should be made on an ad hoc basis.
  • There was detailed discussion of the technical logistics of how this could be achieved and the relevant responsibilities of search engines and publishers of the information.


Workshop on the Legal Aspects of the 'Right to be Forgotten'Session 2: Relationship with other rights and legal instruments

  • The European Commission proposal does not sufficiently address important questions about the relationship between the right to be forgotten and other important interests such as historical research, journalism, and freedom of expression. Such questions cannot be resolved solely through the issuance of delegated acts by the Commission.
  • There is tension between the status of data protection as a fundamental right and under the Lisbon Treaty and the limitations placed on it under the right to be forgotten.
  • An analysis based on a balancing of rights and interests indicates that data should be subject to a right to be forgotten from the point in time when the gain in having the data be public is outweighed by the loss or harm caused by a violation of privacy; however, in practice this point is difficult to anticipate.
  • It is difficult to decide which parties should be responsible for carrying out a proportionality (balancing) analysis under the right to be forgotten. Having data controllers do so may raise issues of legitimacy, while having courts or regulatory authorities do so can lead to fragmentation and conflicts of interest. There will also be a need for a constant re-evaluation of such an analysis.
  • In civil law countries, data protection authorities have a legal duty to investigate each case brought to them and cannot be selective in responding to complaints. This could lead to the authorities being deluged by cases involving the right to be forgotten.
  • The lack of harmonization of concepts fundamental to the right to be forgotten (such as what constitutes an “establishment” of a data controller), and of applicable law rules, will likely lead to forum shopping and different national interpretations of the right. 


Session 3: Right to be forgotten between expectation and practice

  • There has been a failure to evaluate the historical experience of similar rights (see above under Session 1). More empirical evidence is needed in order to determine how the right to be forgotten could function in practice.
  • In a technical sense, perfect deletion of data in the Internet is next to impossible, unless the physical media that store the data are destroyed. Adding to the difficulty of ensuring data deletion is the fact that they are usually mirrored or copied elsewhere. However, using technology to obfuscate data, to make them inaccessible, or to control access to them, could be possible. Provable deletion would also be easier for data in which individuals have more “social capital” invested (e.g., medical or financial data).
  • The right to be forgotten is easier to implement and more justifiable in relation to data that an individual has consented to place in the Internet.
  • Innovative technical measures could be developed to cope with some of the issues raised by the right to be forgotten (e.g., so-called “temporal relevance”, or ranking search results lower as they get older). This sort of “temporal drift” also occurs in the offline world (e.g., a person may choose not to write down certain names when they transfer information to a new address book).
  • There has been “function creep” in the increased governmental storage of and access to personal data, which raises questions about the functioning of the right in the context of governmental data processing.
  • There is a case to be made for measures in law and policy to make data holders consider carefully why they are storing personal data, since there is no technical solution to data deletion that is completely satisfactory.
  • Innovative schemes such as personal data stores could be helpful in giving individuals more control over their data.


Pringle and the Future of European (Financial) Integration

Pringle and the Future of European (Financial) IntegrationOn 8th March 2013, the Centre for European Legal Studies (CELS) organised a workshop on one of the most significant cases heard in the Court of Justice of the European Union. The informal colloquium sought to exchange ideas between younger and more seasoned European lawyers.

The so-called Pringle case (Case C-370/12) was decided on the 27th November 2012, and its consequences are expected to shape the future of European (financial) integration for years. Based on the preliminary reference by the Irish Supreme Court, all 27 Court of Justice judges were called to answer questions about the legality of the European Stability Mechanism Treaty (ESM Treaty). While some commentators doubted the legality of ESM actions outside the EU framework, the Court resoundingly rejected this challenge and arguably opened up further avenues to achieve greater fiscal and economic integration for Euro countries. While the financial crisis and the stability of the Eurozone were at the heart of this judgment, it is expected to have far greater significance for the future of European integration in general and for the future of the UK in the EU in particular.

This seminar explored the legal lessons and consequences of this judgment. Recordings of some of the presentations are available below:


Professor Alan Dashwood CBE QC, and Dr Markus Gehring: "Introduction to the Pringle case and legal issues which arise from a separate Treaty"


Professor Simon Deakin: "Economic and monetary policy after Pringle"


Professor Christian Calliess: "Pringle – the German response and the ESM legality"


Dr Michael Waibel: "Assessment of the Court’s response to a political question"

Scottish Independence: The EU and International Law Perspectives

Scottish Independence: The EU and International Law PerspectivesOn 26th February, Professor James Crawford, joint author of HM Government's 'Opinion: Referendum on the Independence of Scotland - International Law Aspects' engaged in a debate with Dr Markus Gehring and Dr Michael Waibel, introduced by Professor Catherine Barnard. The debate discussed the EU and International Law aspects of Scottish independence, as considered in the Opinion.

The opinion can be found on the Government website.

More information can be found on the Faculty of Law news pages.


Running time: 27:20

Other formats of this video, and also audio, are also available on the University Streaming Media Service.

Brown Bag Lunch

Professor Peter Kunzlik (City University, London) gave a brown bag lunch on Thursday 21st February in B16 from 1-2pm.  Professor Kunzlik has been involved in various activities at the European Parliament and as a consultant to the Swedish Government's Public Procurement Inquiry with regard to the Commission's current proposals for new public procurement directives, and delivered a talk on this subject.  

CELS Lunchtime Seminar

Judy Fudge, Lansdowne Chair in Law, University of Victoria, delivered (in addition to the usual CELS lunchtime series) a seminar entitled "From Women and Labour Law to Putting Gender and Law to Work".  The talk took place on Thursday 14th February at 1pm in the Faculty of Law.  A recording is available on the University Streaming Media Service.

Energy Infrastructure Projects and Environmental Assessment Procedures: Options and Challenges Workshop

Co-organised by CELS and the European Commission

On the 19th October 2011 the European Commission proposed a Regulation on Guidelines for trans-European Energy infrastructure to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council and repealing Decision No 1364/2006/EC [Ref. COM(2011) 658 final]. The proposed Regulation lays down rules for the timely development of trans-European energy networks and identifies 12 strategic priority corridors and geographic areas for energy infrastructure with a trans-european /cross border dimension. A key point in the Commission's proposal is the streamlining of permit granting procedures and the reduction of administrative burdens for the implementation and development of the energy infrastructure projects in order to significantly reduce their duration.

Jointly organised by CELS and the European Commission this workshop discussed the question of streamlining environmental assessment and permit procedures for priority energy infrastructure projects and addressed the challenge of meeting the simplification and time-reduction requirements imposed by the Regulation with the need to ensure respect for environmental concerns, preserve the quality of the environmental impact assessment process, and achieve "the highest possible standards of transparency and public participation for all relevant issues in the permit granting process for projects of common interest".

The workshope took place at the Faculty of Law on the 18th January 2013.  A copy of the programme can be found here: Workshop Programme.

Speakers included: 

 A report on the workshop can be found here: Workshop Report.



CELS Brown Bag Lunch

(For staff and graduate students only)

Professor John C Dernbach (Environmental Law Centre, Widener University) delivered a brown bag lunch entitled "Sustainability and Law: Turning Risks into Opportunities", Thursday 15th November 2012.  During his presentation Professor Dernbach summarised the basic themes of his most recent book on sustainability in the United States.  His presentation emphasised the role of law, lawyers, and faculties of law. 

His new book, "Acting as if Tomorrow Matters: Accelerating the Transition to Sustainability" (Environmental Law Institute Press), was published in June. It describes U.S. efforts over the past two decades, explains what has motivated the progress that has been made, identifies obstacles, and recommends an approach for accelerating progress and overcoming obstacles.  Prof. Dernbach was assisted in this book by 51 contributing authors, each an expert in a particular facet of sustainability.  This is the third book in his ongoing project evaluating U.S. sustainability efforts.

The Corpus Juris Project (Festival of Ideas)

Professor John Spencer gave a talk as part of the University of Cambridge's Festival of Ideas.  The talk, entitled "The Corpus Juris Project", explored the Corpus Juris Project and the ideas and debate surrounding its downfall.  The talk took place at the Law Faculty at 10am on Saturday 27th October 2012.

CELS Evening Lecture

Eleanor Sharpston QC, Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Communities gave an evening lecture entitled "Squaring the Circle - Fighting Terrorism Whilst Respecting Fundamental Rights?".

A recording of this lecture is available for members of the University (Raven Authentication) on the University's Streaming Media Service.

Conference on "Children's Evidence in Legal Proceedings" - April 2012

In 2009 Stephen Barker was convicted of rape on the evidence of a little girl - aged four and a half at the trial - and three and a half when first interviewed by the police. The high point of the proceedings – as prominently reported in the media – was the child’s appearance as live witness at the trial.  The case focussed attention on the need, imposed by English law as it presently stands, for even tiny children to come to court for a live cross-examination if there is to be any chance of convicting a person who has abused them. This requirement has grave disadvantages: for the child, for the defendant, and for justice.

In 1989 an official committee, the Pigot Committee, proposed a mechanism designed to avoid these difficulties, under which the whole of a young child’s evidence, cross-examination and all, would take place out of court, and in advance of the trial. Though welcomed in many quarters, the idea generated opposition too, and in England and Wales it was never carried out.  However, the proposal has been implemented in Western Australia, and (nearer home), similar schemes are now in operation in a number of European jurisdictions.

This conference brought together speakers from several parts of the world where the Pigot scheme, or something like it, is in operation, and explained how far (if at all) it really enables the difficulties of cross-examining very young children to be solved.  

The conference was organised by Professor John Spencer, who has written extensively on the problems of children’s evidence, and Professor Michael Lamb, (Professor of Psychology, Cambridge Department of Social and Developmental Psychology) who has worked extensively on issues related to the questioning of children.

The proceedings of this conference have now been published in a book entitled Children and Cross-Examination by Hart Publishing.



The Advocate General: Securing Trust and Democracy in the EU Judicial Order - October 2011

This one day conference, jointly organised by CELS, University of Cambridge and the School of Law, University of Leeds took place at the Faculty of Law.

Many of the papers relating to this conference are due to be published in the next issue of the Cambridge Yearbook for European Legal Studies (Volume 14) by Hart Publishing

Evening Seminar- October 2011

Trevor Philips, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, gave an evening lecture entitled "Equality: Has the Law run out of road?".

Brown-bag Seminar (For Staff and Research Students) - June 2011

Dr Paul Hughes Senior Academic University of Westminster, Visiting Fellow University of Essex and European Competition Counsel, Steptoe & Johnson LLP Brussels, gave a brown-bag seminar entitled "Social factors and EU merger control". 



The Future of Family Property in Europe -  April 2010

The fourth conference of the Commission on European Family Law: The Future of Family Property in Europe was held at the University of Cambridge in April 2010, following previous conferences in Utrecht (2002 and 2004) and Oslo (2007).

The conference aimed to enhance the exchange of ideas and arguments about comparative and international family law in Europe, and attracted a wide audience of academics and practitioners from all over Europe and beyond.

The theme of the conference was chosen in light of the CEFL’s current work on Principles of European Family Law regarding Property Relations between Spouses. This is the CEFL’s third working field, following the successful publication of its Principles regarding Divorce and Maintenance between Former Spouses (2004) and Parental Responsibilities (2007). The complex and technical nature of the field of comparative matrimonial property law mean that deliberations on the current project will continue into 2011, but initial findings of the project were presented at the conference.

The conference plenary sessions, which opened with a keynote lecture from the Rt Hon Lord Justice Thorpe, also considered the autonomy of spouses and cohabitants to make agreements regulating their property relationships, and the increasing unification of private international law in family matters pursued by both the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the European Commission. As at previous conferences, early career researchers presented their research in three parallel working groups. This year’s themes were child maintenance, the protection of the elderly, and freedom of testation and the protection of family members.

For full details of the papers presented, refer to the programme.

The conference proceedings will be published later this year by Intersentia.

Generously supported by:

Intersentia; International Family Law Group; Mohr Siebeck; Mills & Reeve; Charles Russell; The John Hall and Yorke Funds (University of Cambridge); and the British Academy.



Marital Agreements and Private Autonomy in a Comparative Perspective - June 2009

Unlike many jurisdictions, England and Wales does not have a matrimonial property regime. Instead the courts are given a wide discretion as how to determine the financial consequences of a divorce. While this allows for a great degree of flexibility and thus (at least theoretically) for fair outcomes in each particular case, it creates significant uncertainty for the spouses – despite (or maybe even because of) recent House of Lords decisions like White v White [2001] 1 AC 596 and Miller v Miller; McFarlane v McFarlane [2006] UKHL 24. The current state of the law has been the subject of much criticism, from both academics and practitioners.

This research project combined the expertise of academics from several European and non-European jurisdictions to compare how marital agreements function in their respective national legal and social contexts; it also examined whether there are underlying principles to be found in most or even all jurisdictions. Further, based on the comparative analysis, the project concluded with recommendations for the regulation of marital agreements.

For further information please contact: Dr Jens M. Scherpe, University of Cambridge, email:

This research project was supported with a Small Research Grant by the British Academy.

Fighting Financial Crime in Europe: Practical Aspects of a Pan European Criminal Law - September 2009

Are we inexorably heading towards a European criminal law ? What safeguards exist for the Defence in pan European investigations ? How does OLAF, the Community’s 10 year old anti fraud unit, go about its business ? What can we do to combat and reduce fraud in Europe ? Will the new European Evidence Warrant help – and how will it work ?

These questions and many others were debated by practitioners, academics and policymakers from the UK and other Member States of the European Union.

View more information