Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - UNFAIR SURETYSHIPS (Protection from unfair suretyships in the European Union)

This three-year project performed an innovative comparative study on the existent and possible future instruments of legal protection of non-professional guarantors (e.g. family members of the main debtor) from unfair suretyship contracts in the European Union (EU).

I. During the first year, the focus of the joint research lay primarily on EU law. Firstly, the case-law of the ECJ on consumer guarantors and the proposed new consumer credit directive were made subject of a critical analysis. Secondly, the possibility of referring to common European fundamental rights and constitutional principles to equalise and enhance the level of protection of non-professional sureties in Europe was explored. Thirdly, the need for an interdisciplinary, empirical and law-and-economics approach to the question of the most appropriate level of protection of guarantors in the banking sector was assessed. These three issues formed the subject of the first international workshop organised by the project. The six papers presented at this workshop were published in a special issue of the well-known journal 'European review of private law'.

II. During the second year, the project embarked in a wide-range comparative analysis of both the legal treatment and the economic framework (including the practical relevance) of financially ruinous suretyships of non-professionals in the EU Member States. The first stage of this comparative analysis concentrated on 10 legal systems, divided in four groups:
(1) Austria and Germany;
(2) England, Scotland and Ireland;
(3) France, Belgium and the Netherlands;
(4) Italy and Portugal.
Representatives of these legal systems presented their research results in a second international workshop organised by the project. This workshop was enriched by the active participation of prominent external experts. This enabled inter alia a constructive dialogue between the non-legislative harmonisation approach of this project and the leading legislative harmonisation initiatives, first and foremost the one of the study group on a European civil code. The papers presented at this workshop were included in a book which has been already submitted to the publisher and will be issued before the end of 2007. The scientific contacts established with the second workshop created other very important synergies between this project and further research groups active in the same field. The Bremen project team was invited to moderate a workshop on 'family and credit' within the international conference on 'responsible credit', organised by the Hamburg Institute for financial services and the European coalition on responsible credit, in collaboration with the United States National community reinvestment coalition. This conference took place in Brussels at the beginning of the third project year. A report on the 'family and credit' workshop is published online.

III. During the third year, the scope of this project's comparative analysis was widened to further 10 legal systems: Spain, the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland and Sweden), the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Central-Eastern Europe (Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. Two scientific contributions on the law of the Nordic countries and one contribution on Slovenian law could be included in the above-mentioned 2007 book. Furthermore, representatives of these 10 countries presented their research results at the third international workshop organised by this project, which took place in Bremen on 3 - 4 November 2007. The opening session of this workshop was devoted to the economic framework and the economic analysis of surety-ships of non-professionals. Also, this workshop was enriched by the active participation of external experts, including a representative of the banking sector and two experts in law-and economics.

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