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The Ius Commune Casebook on Civil Procedure will study the law governing civil procedures throughout Europe. It will concentrate on the history, foundations, underlying principles and basic concepts of civil procedure governing cases lacking cross-border aspects, including the rules on enforcement. The casebook will thus neither focus on topics of private international law, nor on the course of proceedings before the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights as such. Profound attention will be paid to the divide between civil law and common law jurisdictions, to the current reforms of civil procedure, to the impact of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights as well as to the influence of EU initiatives and the case law of the European Court of Justice. Procedural law governing situations lacking cross-border aspects had to wait until recent years before the profound interest of comparative lawyers aroused. Pioneering work has been executed by Marcel Storme (University of Ghent), who chaired a working group that published a report on the approximation of judiciary law in the EU.

The rules of civil procedure in common law jurisdictions are a native product having resulted from a more or less organic development from medieval times. On the continent, civil procedure is to a large extent a scholarly product based on the romano-canonic procedure as developed by canonists and romanists from the 12th century onwards. Various examples illustrate the differences between the civil and common law approach to procedures, the most striking one being the division of a lawsuit in two stages, pre-trial and trial, a division that is unknown in continental systems. The adversarial character of civil litigation in common law jurisdictions is another example. However, recent developments seem to have closed the gap between civil and common law to a certain extent. On the continent, some legislatures, in an attempt to increase the manageability of civil litigation, have introduced divisions which, at least from a distance, resemble the common law division in pre-trial and trial. The recent English reforms, initiated by Lord Woolf, rendered the English process less adversarial, attributing more powers to the judge.

Approximation seems especially desirable within the framework of the EU, because differences in procedural rules, including rules governing the enforcement stage, may hinder the proper functioning of the internal market. For example differences in the effectiveness and efficiency of enforcement proceedings may well have their effect on the free movement of goods and services. The awareness that some kind of approximation is needed is also evident from Article 65 EC. This Article may form the basis for approximation in the area of procedural law, at least if some rather strict requirements are met. Furthermore, it is well known that, while EC law generally leaves procedural matters to the laws of the Member States (the "national procedural autonomy" principle), it nevertheless subjects these laws to some "filters", namely the principles of equivalency and effectiveness, which may have a harmonizing effect.

Due to the indebtedness of English civil procedure to developments in the US, especially since the 19th century (e.g. the abolition of the distinction between equity and law in the area of civil procedure), US civil procedure will also be taken into consideration, at least to some extent. The casebook on civil procedure hopes to lay the foundation of a truly European approach to the study civil procedure, pointing the direction to further approximation where possible and needed.