The XVIIIth International Congress of Comparative Law, Washington, D.C.,
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03.08.2010, Washington, D.C., USA

The XVIIIth International Congress of Comparative Law, Washington, D.C.,

The Annual Congress of the International Academy of Comparative Law and American Society of Comparative Law  took place since 25th July 2010 to 1st August 2010 in the premises of three important local law faculties: American University, Washington College of LAw, George Washington University Law School and Georgetown University Law Center. This annual congress, which is being organized by the Academy quadrennial on different places around the world provides a forum for the exchange of the views on the development of the law among the practitioners, academicians, legal scientists and judges form around the world.  18th Congress of the International Academy of Comparative Law  was opened on 25 July in the Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C.

The Congress was opened by the plenary panel which topic was the role of the comparative law in front of the courts and international tribunals. This panel was chaired by  Jürgen Basedow (Secretary general of the International Academy of Comparative Law and director of the Max Planck institute for the comparative and international private law in Hamburg, Germany).  As the speakers on this panel featured Her Excellency Judge Rosemary Barkett (United States Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit), his Excellency Judge Sabino Cassese (Constitutional Court of Italy), Carolyn Lamm ( White&Case, Washington D.C., USA and chairwoman of the American Bar Association) and His Excellency Judge  Bruno Simma (International Court of Justice).In this panel. the speakers have interestingly described the functions of international and comparative law in front of its courts. There sounded arguments that the function of the comparative law cannot be missed in front of any court.  It was very interesting to hear from Her Excellency Rosemary Barkett her appeal addressed to the legal scientists and academics to accentuate more the issues of the analysis of the definitions in the comparative law, because these provide the imaginary join among the comparative theory and practical application of the conclusions of this science in the praxis.

His Excellency Judge Cassese further stressed, that the comparative approach is quite common in the courts of higher instance  and that it is possible to observe extensive comparative approach by the highest courts.  He further suggested that the lawyers and legal scientists interested the problematic of the legal comparison should focus on the questions of how the judges apply the foreign law and to develop methods with universal applicability of the comparations.

His Excellency Judge Diego García Sayán then spoke about the importance of the relations of his Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the local courts. He then explained, that most of the national courts in Latin America is openly referring to the decisions issued by his court  in their decisions, whereas on the opposite also this court when deciding the cases is using the criteria created by the local courts. Very interesting was the proclamation, that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights refers quite usually to the decisions of the other international judicial bodies, especially to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

His Excellency Judge Bruno Simma then spoke about his experience of a judge by the International court of Justice and about the use of the comparative methods in the Oil Platforms decisions.  Judge Simma then warned before the potential dangers which are lurking the lawyers applying the comparative methods. 

The presentations were followed by the discussion which touched many interesting issues, including questions of the degree of importance of the comparative arguments in front of courts same as in the argumentation of the judges in the decisions and of the relation of comparative and international law.

The opening plenary panel was followed by the specific sections in which were introduced general same as national reports drafted for the conference.  The programme of the first conference day was concluded by the  ASIL reception.

Second Conference day took place in the premises of the George Washington University Law School whereas most important panel  of this day was from the perspective of the author of this report the morning panel of International private law which topic was Consumer protection in the International transactions. As a main rapporteur speaking featured Dinah Shelton (George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C., member of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights) whereas the panel was chaired by his Excellency Marek Safjan (ECJ, Luxembourg). The programme of the second conference day was ended by the ASIL meeting.

The Wednesday programme was started by the open programme, which offered the guided tour through the city or alternatively, possibility to visit Legal Library including the visit the reading rooms and library deposits.  Very interesting was also the visit of the deposits of the rare books, which included the early issue of the Magna Charta, Paris Coutumes (collection of the french custom norms), Concordia  discordantium canonum, first edition of the Pothier, Rudolf von Jhering and Domat works, further first edition of the Code Civil same as of the Articles of Confederation and a lot of another treasures of the his marvellous library. Afternoon programme continued with workshop on private law theory on American University Washington College of Law.

Unfortunately, this workshop was limited to the registered participants so it was not possible to get in there for the participants who registered later on.

Very interesting was also the Friday morning programme, especially the panel on investment protection chaired by Meg Kinnear (Secretary General of ICSID), where featured as a main rapporteur Wen Hua Shan (Xi’an Jiaotong University of China).

The Congress was officially ended on Saturday 31st of July by the plenary session, which main topic was the comparative law, its problems and future, where spoke the prominent comparative lawyers on the topic of the future of this specific legal branch in regard to the development in last decade. The moderator of this discussion was prof. David V. Snyder, American university Washington College of Law, Washington D.C.

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