Playing by the EU rules

I refer to the letter of Charles Latham in answer to my article 'Loosening the straight jacket' (The Lawyer, 18 July 1995).

I am all in favour of improving European competition law. If this can be achieved without amending the EC Treaty, so much the better. But it is important there is no misunderstanding of the rules of this particular game. To my mind they are twofold. First, the jurisprudence which underlies the treaty is that of civil law. Second, Directorate IV has shown itself to be reluctant to give up its jurisdiction.

The question of jurisprudence raises another issue. Our common law system is evolving into a civil law system. Certainly this started in 1973 when the UK joined what is now the European Union. But the speed of this evolution is increasing. We have now the frequent use of the copy-out technique in the implementation of directives. In addition we have members of the judiciary who criticise parliamentary draughtsmen for seeking to interpret "defective" foreign laws (Beloit Technologies v Valmet Paper Machinery, The Times 12 May 1995).

In time we will have a better understanding of civil law jurisprudence. With this, it will be possible to make a more effective advance when advocating changes to the existing framework of European law.

Stephen Sidkin

Fox Williams

London EC2A 1UU.