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University of Gothenburg

Private Law

Private law encompasses large areas of the law, and is comprised of a large variety of different disciplines. The Private Law Group at the Department of Law finds the answer to the question as to the smallest common denominator between the various disciplines in the fact that private law rules typically are default rules, i.e. rules that may be overridden by the parties themselves arranging their legal relationship as they deem fit.

It follows from this answer that contract as a legal instrument, as well as market mechanisms for organising the exchange of goods and services between parties, are central elements in private law research. The character of private law rules as default rules, however, is merely a theoretical point of departure: to a large extent, private law disciplines deal with the limits of party autonomy, as well as the question as to how disputes between parties are to be resolved in those cases where the parties are unable to settle those difficulties themselves.

This abstract understanding of what private law is encompasses, among other disciplines, contract law, the law of sales, and consumer law; tort law; company law; market and competition law; family law; labour law; intellectual property law; property law; the law of claims; as well as legal problems in the grey area between private and public, and public administrative, law. More detailed descriptions of the specific research projects in private law represented by members of the group can be found in the staff catalogue of the Private Law Group.

The Private Law Group actively strives to create a critical, but open, research environment that accommodates all researchers, and doctoral students, with private law-related research interests. To achieve this, two or three higher seminars are called every term, sometimes led by researchers from other universities, sometimes by one of the group’s members. By way of example, issues that have been discussed in the past are the future of the principle of traditio in property law; the evolution of labour law; custom as a legal phenomenon; regulation and contracts on the electricity market; regulatory theory concerning company law; as well as several other issues.