The Jean Monnet Chair in European Civil Procedure, hosted by the Madrid-based IE University, is the first Chair entirely devoted to the study and dissemination of the ELI-UNIDROIT Model Rules of European Civil Procedure.
The Chair is held by Marco de Benito, Professor of Law at IE University, where he teaches comparative civil procedure and international arbitration. Prof. de Benito also fosters reflection and debate on private law and legal history through the Jean Monnet Module in European Private Law.
In its quest to become a genuine area of freedom, security and justice, the EU has developed an ambitious program of normative action in civil procedure. Judicial cooperation has been strengthened. Exequatur has been abolished. Credit has been robustly protected. Sectorial action regularly includes procedural reform. In spite of this considerable acquis, the core procedural systems of states have remained anchored in national traditions. Cutting-edge policy and scholarship have advocated a deeper harmonisation. The Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure adopted by the American Law Institute (ALI) and UNIDROIT in 2004 lighted the path forward. In 2014 the European Law Institute (ELI) and UNIDROIT launched the project ‘From Transnational Principles to European Rules of Civil Procedure’, recently completed with the European Rules of Civil Procedure. Based on that project, in 2017 the European Parliament adopted a resolution requesting the Commission to put forward a proposal for a directive on common minimum standards of civil procedure in the EU.
These projects are the last frontier of civil procedural scholarship. A European proto-civil procedure code shows on the horizon. It will no longer be possible to teach or study civil procedure without making reference to the common rules and categories. The Chair embraces the paradigm shift and offers its grain of sand nationally and internationally.
IE Law School takes inspiration in the old ius commune europæum to teach law as a common language with dialectal expressions. A transnational standpoint is applied systematically. With more than 75% international students, all programmes are taught in English, while also using the original texts in class to the best extent possible. The core course touching upon civil procedure at IE, Litigation I, is dramatically transformed by the current harmonisation endeavours. Litigation I adopts the ELI-UNIDROIT Rules as leitmotif, so that students learn the structure, principles and rules of civil proceedings by reference to the common normative, conceptual and terminological framework. The Rules thus provide the students with a point of reference from which to identify the expression of this or that principle in the law and practice of selected jurisdictions. Like a musical theme with multiple variations, a dialogue between the European Rules and the national laws is established.
Based on that experience, the Chair builds on three more levels: a Study Group (in which students do and comment readings and research); a Faculty Seminar (in which teaching experiences are shared); and the IE Civil Procedure Series, a series of roundtables where students, academics, practitioners, judges, policymakers, from Europe and beyond, can explore the Rules, together with the leaders in the field.