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Common Law Contracts, Arbitration and Advocacy

Law of England & Wales (and common law more generally) is of huge relevance internationally, as it is the most frequent choice of applicable law in international commercial contracts, regardless of any link with the United Kingdom.

English contract law has chosen, among other factors, for its predictability and suitability for commercial transactions and at least familiarity with it is a pre-requisite for most students desiring a career involving transnational transactions.

Complementing these transactions is a transnational system of dispute resolution - international arbitration, where parties can finally resolve disputes through their chosen arbitrators and without necessarily involving state courts. Again, England & Wales, and London in particular, are global leaders in providing arbitration services and having a world-leading legal framework for them.

Finally, drafting and interpreting contracts under English law, and resolving disputes through arbitration, heavily rely on specific drafting styles and also oral advocacy approaches found primarily in common law, both in UK and US. To successfully navigate these fields, knowledge of basic principles of drafting and advocating that can serve as a foundation for further improvement is a necessity.

The summer school in Common Law Contracts, Arbitration and Advocacy aims to provide the students with an introduction into these three spheres of English common law and practice, providing the knowledge of general principles and approaches, and laying out a firm foundation for further study in those who want to make international commercial law and transactions their primary focus. By connecting substantive contract law with dispute resolution through arbitration and techniques of drafting and advocacy, it provides a rounded introduction into this complex yet fascinating area of law and is suitable for students coming from any jurisdiction.

Warwick Summer School helped me to unlock a new and different side of myself. It gave me a different perspective towards life, knowledge and the world.

Shreya Samaddar (India)

Key Facts

Level: Intermediate

Fees: Please see fees page

Teaching: 60 hours

Expected independent study: 90 hours

Optional assessment: Dependant on course

Typical credit: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)*
* Please check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, please see our Teaching and assessment page



Week 1 – Common Law of Contracts
- Introduction to Common Law of England and Wales
- General Principles of Contract Law
- Formation of Contracts
- Content and Interpretation of Contracts
- Contractual Remedies

Week 2 – Arbitration
- The Idea and General Principles of Arbitration
- English Arbitration Act and England as the Seat of Arbitration
- Arbitration Agreement and Contract Law
- The Process of Arbitration
- Arbitration Award and Enforcement

Week 3 – Written and Oral Advocacy
- Different Styles of Writing and Advocating
- Principles of Effective Legal Writing
- Oral Advocacy

Course Aims

Introduction to general principles of English common law, general principles in contract law, and three key distinct stages of contract - formation, interpretation, and remedies for its breach.

Introduction to general principles of (international) arbitration, broad features of the legal framework of arbitration in England & Wales, and the key stages in the arbitration process.

Providing an overview of different styles of legal drafting , general approaches to effective legal writing in common law, and general principles of oral advocacy.

Learning Outcomes

1. Understanding of the general principles underpinning common law and the law of contracts;

2. Exploration and analysis of the key rules derived from case law governing the formation of contracts, their interpretation, and remedies for their breach;

3. Understanding of the general ideas and principles underpinning arbitration as a method of dispute resolution;

4. Gaining an overview of the legal framework governing arbitration in England and Wales and the role of courts in the process;

5. Exploration and analysis of the key stages of arbitration and their features;

6. Understanding of the different legal drafting styles for different purposes and their key characteristics;

7. Understanding of the principles and features of oral advocacy in common law dispute resolution;

8. Ability to apply the principles and rules of contract law and arbitration law to a factual and legal scenario whose complexity is appropriate to the introductory level;

9. Ability to demonstrate legal writing skills in applying those principles, appropriate to the introductory level.

Course Structure

For this course, there will be 4 hours of teaching on most weekdays, comprised of lectures and small group seminars. The structure will be:

  • 3 hours of lectures
  • A 1 hour seminar in small groups

Students will also be given time each day for independent study. Towards the end of the third week, students will also be provided with time for revision.

Course Assessment

The module will be assessed via a 2-hour open book examination. Students will be expected to apply contract and arbitration law to resolving a factual and legal dispute scenario of complexity appropriate to the introductory level of the course. It should be noted that the exam is not compulsory. Everyone who completes the course – whether or not they sit the exam - will receive a certificate of attendance. However, by taking the exam you will also receive a grade/mark for the course which can be helpful to you.

Foundational Texts to be used:

1. John Cartwright, 'Contract Law: And Introduction to the English Law of Contract for the Civil Lawyer', 3rd ed, 2016

2. TT Arvind, 'Contract Law', 2nd ed, 2019

3. Tony Cole and Pietro Ortolani, 'Understanding International Arbitration', 2019.

4. Lisa Webley, 'Legal Writing', 4th ed. 2016

5. Derek Halbert and Hayley Whitaker, 'Advocacy and Public Speaking: A Student's Introduction' 2016

Entry Requirements

There are no prerequisites for this course. This course is open to students studying any discipline at University level. We welcome individuals from all backgrounds, including students who are currently studying another subject but who want to broaden their knowledge in another discipline. Students should also meet our standard entry requirements and must be aged 18 or over by the time the Summer School commences and have a good understanding of the English language.

Please note changes to the syllabus and teaching team may be made over the coming months before exact set of topics are finalised.

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