The Relevance of the University of West London’s LL.M. in International Business and Commercial Law to Sri LankaView(s):
Recently ANC launched its School of Postgraduate Education. This was on the eve of its ten years of existence as one of country’s leading providers of private education. The Vice Chancellor of the University of West London and the head of the Ealing Law School were here to enter into a new partnership with ANC to commence master of laws and master of business administration programmes.
Introduction of English Law.
It was over one hundred and fifty years ago that the Introduction of Law of England Ordinance No. 5 of 1852 (commonly known as the Civil Law Ordinance) was enacted, introducing English law as the law applicable to most commercial matters. Two well known commentators on South African law (Hahlo and Khan) have expressed in graphic terms the introduction of English law into South Africa and their observations apply to Sri Lanka as well:
“Some English institutions marched into our law openly along the highway of legislative enactment, to the sound of brass bands of Royal Commissions and public discussion. Others slipped into it quietly and unobtrusively alongside roads and by paths.”
Justice Tambiah in Silva v. Johanis Appuhamy 67 NLR 457 cited the above passage with approval and added that: “The English Law governing certain topics on Mercantile Law was bodily introduced into Ceylon by statute law. There are other statutes which are either replicas or close imitations of English Statutes. In interpreting statutes, naturally, English decisions have to be resorted to.”
He also cited with approval a statement of Sir John Wessels (1920 S.A.L.R. 265) regarding the Cape Province in South Africa which he thought was equally true of Sri Lanka: “Roman Dutch Law has influenced the English Law far more than people think. Sometimes inroads have been open and overwhelming as when the English Law of evidence was introduced by, legislation, first at the Cape and afterwards throughout the whole of South Africa, and at other times English legal ideas have crept in insidiously as if it were almost by accident.”
Whilst legislative changes have taken place in Sri Lanka with regard to certain commercial matters and there have been judicial decisions that are based on the interpretation placed by local courts over a period of time, it cannot be gainsaid that English law still continues to be the basis of much of the business and commercial law as applicable in our country.
The LL.M. programme on International Business and Commercial Law has four major modules, namely
Legal Aspects of International Finance
International Commercial Law
Laws on International Business Structures
International Commercial Arbitration and Mediation Law
Another module will deal with Research Methodology that will assist students to finalize their dissertation.
Each of the modules (of 60 hours duration) will provide an in-depth overview of not only English legal concepts and principles but also of relevant European and US legislative and case law trends and developments. The module on the legal aspects of international finance, for instance, will address subjects such as syndicate loans, derivatives, securitizations, debentures and derivatives- all ubiquitous instruments in the modern world of banking and commerce. Professor Philip Wood whose textbook entitled Law and Practice of International Finance is the leading text used in many parts of the world, has made a pertinent observation in Chapter One:
“The law of international finance is a romantic and exciting topic. It is romantic and exciting because it is concerned with the means of exchange and with financial assets- these are assets which require two people to make them so that the law is therefore about two people at either end of the asset, and not the asset itself.”
The LL.M. programme uses power point presentations and inter-active sessions to demystify the concepts and legislative techniques and principles. The programme is structured in such a way that even those without an in-depth background knowledge of some of the intricate concepts can be gradually introduced to fundamental principles. Optional guest lectures will cover selected counterpart Sri Lankan legal aspects. Opportunities for networking with leading practitioners and industry specialists with ‘hands-on international experience’ will be another added advantage that ANC would offer.
UWL will provide access to the ‘Blackboard’, a market-leading Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) software used in leading tertiary level institutions. Students will have access to programme resources and key information whenever they need them
from anywhere with a web connection, including mobile devices;
at any time convenient to them;
to complement what is provided in the class;
to aid revision;
to submit written assignments and obtain on-line feedback; and
to facilitate communications between students-staff and student-to-student.
For those with busy schedules, the VLE will be a great tool to access, whenever possible. Lectures of 3 hours duration will be scheduled for two weekday evenings and on Saturday mornings. Enrolment is possible for not only for lawyers and law graduates but also for those with recognized academic and/or professional qualifications that have included legal subjects supplemented by appropriate experience in dealing with legal issues. Applications will be screened on a case-by-case basis.
The future of Business and Commercial Law
As we move towards “one global village”, laws and practices will need to harmonize to a greater extent than ever before. English, European and US principles and case law will continue to drive international transactions. As Sri Lanka stands poised to negotiate the best of terms with its trading partners in a competitive business world, it is incumbent upon lawyers, accountants, managers and executives to upgrade their knowledge of international trends and developments. An ‘internal’ LL.M. degree from a reputed British university is no longer a luxury for a minority and the privileged few; UWL and ANC, through ANC’s new School of Postgraduate Education, has made it possible to acquire a useful post-graduate qualification whilst being based here. For more information call 0777 44 99 66- -Dr Dayanath Jayasuriya President’s Counsel
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