Suggested changes to European contract law could signal the demise of English law as the preferred jurisdiction for contract matters.
A response to the Communication on Euro-pean Contract Law by the General Bar Council of England and Wales stated that it would be strongly opposed to one of the four options presented in the communication. A spokesperson for the Bar Council said: "The feeling is one of real concern. It could have far-reaching effects for lawyers and the City of London." Invisible earnings from professional services, including law firms, contribute to the UK economy. The Bar Council fears that this income could be lost to the US. The four options can be summarised as: leaving the market to solve any problems; promoting greater convergence of national laws through developing common con-tract law principles; improving existing Euro-pean Commission (EC) legislation; and adopting new EC legislation. The communication sought opinions from relevant parties to discover whether cross-border transactions suffer from differences in member states' contract laws. Information was also gathered on attitudes to harmonising contract laws. The deadline for submissions was 15 October. Presently, English law rates jointly with US law as the framework chosen by businesses, irrespective of their country of origin, for handling contract matters. The Bar Council spokes-person added that "harmonisation would inevitably lead to a dilution of the points of English law that are so appealing to business". The EC will consider all responses. It is understood that spring 2002 will mark a decision on the option the EC wishes to take forward.