A Unique European Dimension to Legal Education:
The English and French Legal Traditions Combined in an Integrated Degree
The LLB in English Law and French Law / Master 1 (Maîtrise en Droit), at the Exeter Law School
By Dr Frédéric Olivier Rolland, Senior Lecturer in Law
In the context of the collaborative dimension of University education inherent in various European agreements and the interconnection of numerous States’ legal orders on the European and International scene, it is increasingly important for lawyers to understand and apply systems of Law belonging to various legal traditions. In that respect, the Anglo-French dual qualification Law degree programme entitled LLB in English Law and French Law / Master 1 (Maîtrise en Droit) pioneered by the Exeter Law School in partnership with the Law Faculty of the University of Rennes 1 is an established feature of British University education. This Anglo-French combined legal programme offers an unparalleled opportunity to study the British and French legal systems in their respective languages and to hold qualifying Law degrees in the United Kingdom and in France, enabling students to qualify professionally in both countries. The academic objective of this Anglo-French dual qualification Law degree programme is not – in itself – comparative: its aim is for students to independently master, articulate and apply, in equal terms, legal reasonings belonging to two historically different legal cultures and systems. By studying for this integrated programme, students’ profiles will be particularly attractive to major City Law firms as well as European and International organizations.
The LLB in English Law and French Law / Master 1 (Maîtrise en Droit) is an established component of the Exonian European academic identity. Not limiting the University cooperation to French language, the Exeter Law School built up a strong tradition in the teaching of foreign legal systems in their original language under the initial lead of Professor Dominic LASOK. This trend blossomed under the academic partnership between Exeter Law School and the Law Faculty of the University of Rennes 1, ultimately leading to a fully integrated double award, namely the LLB in English Law and French Law / Master 1 (Maîtrise en Droit) which presents itself under a unique, innovative and effective format.
This is a four-year degree intended to lead to the dual qualification of LLB in English Law and French Law at the University of Exeter and Master 1 (Maîtrise en Droit) at the University of Rennes 1. Students registered for the degree of LLB in English Law and French Law / Master 1 (Maîtrise en Droit) spend the first three years in the Exeter Law School studying English Law. At the same time, French Law modules are studied in French. Although bilingualism is by no means required in order to succeed in this programme, a good standard of French both written and oral is essential (A-level in French or equivalent). The French Law modules comprise French Constitutional Law in the first year, French Administrative Law in the second year, and French Civil Law of Contract in the third year. Academics from the Law Faculty of the University of Rennes 1 are also invited annually by the Exeter Law School to give a series of seminars in their field of expertise. French Law modules at Exeter are being taught in small groups as there is only a limited number of 25 places available per academic year.
The fourth year is spent at the Law Faculty of the University of Rennes 1 where students follow one of the Master 1 (Maîtrise en Droit) programmes. If successful, a student in addition to his/ her Exeter LLB in English Law and French Law degree will also obtain the Master 1 (Maîtrise en Droit) of the University of Rennes 1, thus simultaneously graduating in France and in England with the respective national legal qualifications, which constitutes in itself a considerable academic and intellectual legal achievement.
The LLB in English Law and French Law / Master 1 (Maîtrise en Droit) degree is structured to permit complete exemption from the academic stage of professional training. The English legal qualification will therefore enable students on graduation to proceed to the Solicitors’ Legal Practice course or Bar Vocational course in the United Kingdom. The Master 1 (Maîtrise en Droit) will allow students to undertake the steps necessary to become qualified in France. Indeed, students will have the necessary knowledge for passing the aptitude test which is a pre-requisite to practice as a lawyer in France.