91374 - Foundations Of Private Law

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Docente: Marco Martino
  • Credits: 12
  • SSD: IUS/01
  • Language: English
  • Moduli: Marco Martino (Modulo 1) Diletta Giunchedi (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Legal Studies (cod. 9062)

    Also valid for Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Legal Studies (cod. 9062)

Learning outcomes

The course aims at giving students the opportunity to acquire a deep and conscious knowledge of the foundations of Private Law, through an historical perspective and both dyachronic and synchronic comparison of problems, concepts, rules and tenets in different legal systems and jurisdictions. The role of EU private law will be also highlighted in its relations to Constitutional and European national private law traditions.

Students attending the course will be able to manage rules and to arrange solutions to contract law problems in different jurisdictions, being also conscious of the concurrence of different sources. Students will be able to recognize the different principles involved in a dialogue between the civil law and the common law traditions, notably with regard to contract law.

Course contents

The main purpose of the course is to provide students with a thorough knowledge of the core concepts and tenets of Private Law from a comparative, historical and cultural (in its higher meaning) perspective.

The attention focuses on Private Law and its sources, in order to recognize and understand the principles that underlie the basic fileds of such a complex system.

The course aims at training students to gradually develop a systematic knowledge of Private Law terminology and logic enabling them to efficiently handle the main problems arising, in different jurisdictions (notably: Germany, France, Italy), in property, contract, torts and unjust enrichment.

Special emphasis will be paid to the European attempts toward an harmonization of the law of contract (PECL, DCFR).

Course Contents:

Rules, principles, legal system: a comprehensive view of Private Law as a phenomenon

Private Law and its sources: European Private Law

Legal concepts and legal studies in the Western Legal Tradition and the main framework of Private Law

Property and Possession. Ownership and Servitudes.

Torts in modern Private Law: a perspective approach

Negligence, strict liability, pure economic losses

Contract law: promises, offer and acceptance, mistake, unexpected circumstances, consideration and form, remedies. Rules and models in the main european national jurisdictions and in the DCFR.

The English law of contract in a civil lawyer's perspective.

Unjust enrichment and restitutions.


Pietro Sirena, Introduction to Private Law, il Mulino, Bologna, 2020 (2nd ed.), pp. 157 - 337;

James Gordley, Foundations of Private Law. Property, Tort, Contract., Unjust Enrichment, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, pp. 1-458 (a selection of excerpts, suggested during the lectures);

John Cartwright, Contract law. An Introduction to the English Law of Contract for the Civil Lawyer, Bloomsbury, Oxford and Portland, 2016, pp. 51 - 300.

Teaching methods

Lessons will be taught by Professor Marco Martino, who holds the course, and by Professor Alessandra Spangaro, as adjunct lecturer.

Learning will be stimulated by a continuous reference to case law.

A critical and maieutic approach to the structure of rules and to tenets of private law will be favoured.

Students are encouraged to discuss with the lecturer the inner grounds of rules, principles and doctrines explained during the lessons.

The course will be held during the second semester and for students that will satisfy the attendance requirements will be possible to take the exam in all sessions since May 2022.


Assessment methods

The exam will be oral.

Students are encouraged to submit short papers individually assigned and to be outlined during classes and a final paper before the final exam.

The assessment of the interview will be carried out taking into consideration:

  • the knowledge of institutional profiles;
  • the ability to analyze the jurisprudential and doctrinal guidelines;
  • the ability to make connections between the different parts of the program;
  • the ability to develop critical arguments;
  • the exposure articulation;
  • the accuracy of the exposure.

The final evaluation will be graded considering the following criteria:

preparation on most of the topics of the exam program, but with limited analytical skills, such as to require the explanatory intervention of the teacher; correct language, but without technicality: 18-21;
preparation on the whole exam program, with autonomous analytical skills, even if not in depth, ccorrect language, but without technicality: 22-24;
preparation on the whole exam program, with autonomous and in-depth analytical skills, correct and sufficiently technical language: 25-27;
preparation on the whole exam program, with independent and in-depth analytical skills, good mastery of language of technical language: 28-29;
preparation on the whole exam program, with independent and in-depth analytical skills, excellent mastery of language of technical language: 30-30L


Registration for the final exam must be done using the Almaesami application (https://almaesami.unibo.it/almaesami/welcome.htm).

Teaching tools

Supporting materials (legal cases, documents, legal texts) will be made available to students on the website.

Students who need compensatory tools for reasons of disability or Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) shall communicate to the teacher their needs so as to be directed to the dedicated person and arrange on the adoption of the most appropriate measures.

Office hours

See the website of Marco Martino

See the website of Diletta Giunchedi