Salzburg, Austria: “How do you solve a problem like breach of contract?”

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The title of this blog is inspired by one of the tracks in the film “The Sound of Music.” This film was set in the city of Salzburg where I spent two weeks in early July. Landmarks of the city are visible throughout the film and the stunning Alpine vistas captured on screen are just as stunning when viewed through the naked eye. Indeed, Salzburg continues to capitalise on the popularity of the Sound of Music brand through Sound of Music bus-tours to name an example. However, behind this brand lies a city and a region with a fascinating history charted in the abundant museums, palaces and churches of Salzburg, many of which I enjoyed during my two weeks spent in Austria.

Alas, the purpose of my visit was neither to study the history of Salzburg nor was it a musical pilgrimage. The predominant purpose of my visit was to attend the Summer School in European Private Law hosted by the University of Salzburg. Over the course of two weeks I covered not just contract law but also property and family law. Teachers from across the continent came to deliver lectures on the basic features of their own legal systems. I also participated in a number of workshops which were perhaps a more stimulating feature of the summer school than the ordinary lectures. Every student was given the same legal problem and asked to discuss the outcome produced by their own jurisdiction. So, how do you solve a problem like breach of contract? While Scots law may produce a relatively clear answer the response to this question becomes rather complicated when taking into account another 30 countries! However, it was fascinating (yet in some cases expected) to hear that in many problems the result would be exactly the same in different jurisdictions. Developing my ability to compare different legal systems will be a valuable skill for me as I go into my final year.

Thus, the summer school has reaffirmed my interest in and has deepened my knowledge of private law. That is not to say that the only benefits that I have accrued during my trip have been academic ones. Aside the various daytrips and visits to museums, the entire “Edinburgh team” participated in an International evening where every country presented an aspect of their culture – the Scottish contingent choosing to demonstrate a typical ceilidh dance. That evening boosted both my confidence and my cultural awareness. However, perhaps the greatest benefit of this trip was getting to meet a fantastic group of new friends from Edinburgh and from all over Europe.

Finally, I would like to mention that this is my third “Go Abroad” experience (for which I am extremely grateful). Having already travelled much further than Austria, I did not come to this trip with a great deal of apprehension or worry and this allowed me to make the most of my time while I was in Salzburg. However, for those contemplating going abroad maybe even for the first time, the main ways in which to enjoy your trip is to talk to people and get involved but also to plan and prepare your visit beforehand so that all that is left to do when you arrive is to enjoy yourself. I certainly did!

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