Principles of Common Law

General Information

The class will take place every Tuesday, 12:15-13:45, from 21 September 2021 until 14 December 2021.

It will be held as a hybrid lecture, in room KOL-F-121 and as an online live stream Zoom meeting. Subsequently, it can be viewed online as a presentation.

Check this website for the link to the Zoom meetings.


Please check the syllabus regularly for updates.

Syllabus (PDF, 581 KB)


Please check the syllabus regularly for updates

Zoom Live Stream

Kern Alexander is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Lecture HS21: Principles of Common Law
Time: Sep 21, 2021 12:00 PM Zurich
        Every week on Tue, until Dec 14, 2021, 13 occurrence(s)
        Sep 21, 2021 12:00 PM
        Sep 28, 2021 12:00 PM
        Oct 5, 2021 12:00 PM
        Oct 12, 2021 12:00 PM
        Oct 19, 2021 12:00 PM
        Oct 26, 2021 12:00 PM
        Nov 2, 2021 12:00 PM
        Nov 9, 2021 12:00 PM
        Nov 16, 2021 12:00 PM
        Nov 30, 2021 12:00 PM
        Dec 7, 2021 12:00 PM
        Dec 14, 2021 12:00 PM

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 653 7808 8532
Passcode: 202742

Podcast / Zoom Recordings

The podcasts / Zoom recordings can be watched here. Please note that due to technical difficulties individual lectures may not be recorded or only with disturbance. Students who forgo the attendance of a lecture or the writing of their own notes do so at their own risk. For technical reasons, the constant availability of records cannot be guaranteed. The loss of access to the recordings is not sufficient cause for an appeal against the examination. Scripts or other materials declared as examination relevant take priority over the podcasts / zoom recordings. In case of ambiguity contact the lecturer immediately. The recordings are for private use only. Redistribution in whatever form, in whole or in part, is not permitted without consent of the lecturer and may be punished by disciplinary measures or otherwise.

Lecture 1 - Link - Prof. Kern Alexander

Lecture 2 - Link - Holly Hoch

Lecture 3 - Link - Holly Hoch

Lecture 4 - Link - Holly Ghelfi

Lecture 5 Link - Holly Ghelfi, Holly Hoch

Lecture 6 - Link - Prof. Elisabetta Fiocchi Malaspina

Lecture 7 - Link - Prof. Elisabetta Fiocchi Malaspina

Lecture 8 - Link - Prof. Elisabetta Fiocchi Malaspina

Lecture 9 - Link - Prof. Elisabetta Fiocchi Malaspina

Lecture 10 - Link - Prof. Kern Alexander

Lecture 11 - Link - Dr. David Roth

Lecture 12 - Link - Prof. Kern Alexander


Written open-book examination

Date: 04.01.2022

Time: 16:00-18:00

For information, please visit:

Module booking:

Mock Exam Questions: 

Mock Exam Questions_PCL (PDF, 52 KB)

Reading Materials


- Benjamin Cardozo, 'The Nature of the Judicial Process' (New Haven, Yale)

- William Geldart, edited by DCM Yardley, 'Introduction to English Law' (Oxford Univ Press, Oxford)

- Glanville Williams, 'Learning the Law' (Sweet & Maxwell, 16th edition, ed. A.T.H. Smith)


Lecture 1 (21.9.2021) – Introduction, General Sources, Public Law, the Constitution and Statutory Interpretation, Case Law Method, Role of Judges and Juries (Kern Alexander)

G. Williams - The Division of the Law, Chapter. 1 (PDF, 4 MB)

G. Williams - The Case Law Technique, Chapter. 6 (PDF, 5 MB)

G. Williams -  The Interpretation of Statutes, Chapter. 7 (PDF, 3 MB)

W. Geldart - Chapter. 1 (PDF, 477 KB)

W. Geldart - Chapter. 2 (PDF, 1011 KB)

B. N. Cardozo - The Nature of the Judicial Process, Lecture I (PDF, 638 KB)

B.N. Cardozo - The Nature of the Judicial Process, Lecture II (PDF, 11 MB)

B. N. Cardozo - The Nature of the Judicial Process, Lecture IV (PDF, 509 KB)

Optional readings: 

T. Poole - Back to the Future ? Unearthing the Theory of Common Law Constitutionalism 20p (PDF, 144 KB)

C. D. Jenkins - From Unwritten to Written: Transformation in the British Common Law Constitution 98p (PDF, 735 KB)


Lecture 2 (28.09.2021) Corporate and Business Law

'The Essential Elements of Corporate Law: What is Corporate Law?' Armour, John; Hansmann, Henry; Kraakman, Reinier; 2009. Available at 

Optional readings:

Kershaw, David Company Law in Context, Chapter. 1, pp 3-29 (PDF, 17 MB)


Lecture 3 (05.10.2021) Intellectual Property and Data Privacy

‘World Intellectual Property Report Intellectual Property Basics: A Q&A for Students’, China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) & World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); 2019. Available at


Lecture 4 (12.10.2021) Contract Law

Introduction to Contract Law, Chapter 8


Lecture 5 (19.19.2021) Commercial Law and Smart Contracts

Consulting Agreement Example (PDF, 127 KB)

Optional readings:

Baskind, Osborne, Roach, Commercial Law, pp. 1-17

Available at Google books (click on the cover):


Lecture 6 (26.10.2021) History of Common Law and Law of Equity

A. Padoa Schioppa - A European History of Law. From the Early Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century, Chapter. 26 - Sixteenth-Eighteenth Century  (PDF, 155 KB)

A. Padoa Schioppa - A European History of Law. From the Early Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century, Chapter. 16 - Common Law: the Formative Age (PDF, 149 KB)

Magna Carta (PDF, 147 KB)

Optional readings: 

O. W. Holmes Jr. - The Common Law, Chapter 7 (PDF, 263 KB)

O. W. Holmes Jr. - The Common Law, Chapter 8 (PDF, 351 KB)

K. Llewellyn - The Bramble Bush, pp 81-89 (PDF, 2 MB)


Lecture 7 (02.11.2021) Property Law

W. Geldart - Chapter 5 (PDF, 2 MB)

Simon, A Slave v The State of Florida (PDF, 6 MB)


Lecture 8 (09.11.2021) Wills and Trusts - Law of Succession

D. Hayton - Chapter 1 (PDF, 2 MB)

Additional Chapter: Intro to trusts (PDF, 329 KB)


Lecture 9 (16.11.2021) International Law

E Denza, ‘The Relationship Between International and National Law’ (‘The USA’ and ‘The UK’) pp. 393-409, in International Law (5th ed.) Malcolm D Evans (ed.) (PDF, 10 MB)

UKSC Judgement (PDF, 675 KB)

Trust Convention (PDF, 823 KB)


Reading week (23.11.2021) No lecture

Lecture 10 (30.11.2021) Selected aspects of Criminal Law and exam review

Adapted Lecture Handout (PDF, 755 KB)

HLA Hart - Liberty, Law, and Morality pp 6-24 (PDF, 2 MB)

Hernandez (PDF, 358 KB)

Lecture 11 (07.12.2021) Competition Law, Anti-trust and Intellectual Property

- ABA, Antitrust Section, Antitrust Laws and You!, (PDF, 1 MB) 2010 (pages 8 to 22 only) (mandatory)

- Lina Khan, Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox, 126 Yale L.J. (PDF, 761 KB)(2016) (optional)


Lecture 12 (14.12.2021) Optional exam review - no new readings

- Review session

- We recommend that you use this time to catch up on previous readings and review previous exams

- Note: you do not need to know any case names for the exam. You should understand the relevant principles and rules from each lecture.