Foundations of European private law (2017/2018)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Tommaso Dalla Massara
Tommaso Dalla Massara
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
1° periodo di lezioni dal Oct 2, 2017 al Dec 15, 2017.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

The main purpose of the course is to develop the student’s ability of reasoning on significant topics in the frame of contract in European Private Law. In order to properly deal with these issues, an analysis of continuities and discontinuities in the historical progression of these matters will be necessary. This analysis shall move backwards from the last significant developments of European Private Law to the roots of the ideas stemming from Roman legal system.
The specific topic of the course is the contractual money debts’ discipline: in the scenario of problems related to the contract, the money debts have always played a primary role. So, since antiquity, money – a peculiar object of the obligations of dare – sets a special system of rules concerning fulfilment, arising of interests, protection against devaluation and adjustment of performance in time. Moreover, peculiar rules regarding reciprocity, termination and other aspects are provided for money debts.


Classes will be structured as follows:

1) The method: analysis of juridical phenomena in a diachronic perspective.

2) The contract in general.
2.a) The contract today; attempts to elaborate a notion of contract in a European Private Law’s perspective: in particular, CESL, DCFR (and ‘Feasibility Study’), Acquis principles, PECL, ‘Gandolfi’s project’, Unidroit principles.
2.b) The rediscovery of ancient roots of the idea of contract: the elaboration of contract’s notion by Roman jurists. The emerging and overlap of different contract models: in particular, the synallagmatic contract, the cause, the consent, the arrival point in respect to the notion of contract reached by the jurisprudence at the end of the classic age; the overcoming of contractual typicality; the penetration of Roman model in the European juridical experience; the contrat in the Code civil of 1804; the notion of Vertrag in BGB; ‘contract’ and ‘consideration’ in Common Law; the discipline of the contratto in the codice civile italiano of 1865 and 1942.

3) Money debt in the frame of contract.
3.a) the structure of nominal debt (differing from value debt);
3b.) the nominalistic principle;
3.c) the regime of payment;
3.d) interests;
3.e) damages caused by devalutation;
3.f) the problem of adjustment of contractual content in the passing of time; reciprocity and termination of the contract.

ERASMUS students are kindly requested to contact the Professor at the beginning of the course, in order to agree the exam’s program, which will consist of a written paper about a specific topic.

Teaching methods
Beside the traditional lesson, classes aim at stimulating student’s juridical reasoning through active participation, particularly stimulating the analysis and discussion of the cases that will be introduced.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
R. Schulze, R. Zimmermann, P. Sirena, F.P. Patti Diritto privato europeo. Testi di riferimento Giappichelli, Torino 2017 (in corso di pubblicazione)
L. Garofalo Giurisprudenza romana e diritto privato europeo Cedam, Padova 2008
S. Mazzamuto Il contratto di diritto europeo Giappichelli, Torino 2017
A . SCHIAVONE ‘Ius’. L’invenzione del diritto in Occidente Torino 2005
A. BURDESE (a cura di) Le dottrine del contratto nella giurisprudenza romana Cedam - Padova 2006
C. A. Cannata L'inadempimento delle obbligazioni Cedam, Padova 2008
T. dalla Massara Obbligazioni pecuniarie. Struttura e disciplina dei debiti di valuta Cedam, Padova 2012
R. ZIMMERMANN The Law of Obligations: Roman Foundations of the Civilian Tradition Oxford 1996

Assessment methods and criteria

Goals of the exam
The written test’s goal is to test the program knowledge and reasoning ability as far as specific juridical matters are concerned.
The additional oral examination firstly focuses on the issues emerging from the written test, then shall test the knowledge of the remaining part of the program.

Contents and modality of the proof
The exam shall be for oral for everyone, both attending and non-attending students. It is preceded by a short written test aimed at testing the ‘minimum’ knowledge. It will consist in four open questions. Both the written and the oral tests will concern all the program’s topics.
The final evaluation shall be expressed in thirtieth (30/30).

Teaching aids