Anent harmonisation, provisions pertained on the proper functioning of the market, “specifically on the law applicable to corporeal and incorporeal property; the law applicable to contractual and non-contractual obligations; the law applicable to the form of legal transactions and evidence; and the general matters under the foregoing heads (renvoi, classification, application of foreign law, acquired rights, public policy, capacity, representation.
” The draft of this convention to be known as Rome Convention 1980 was signed by seven members, namely “Belgium, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. ” It came into force and became effective in April 1991. The following disputes are excluded from the application of the provisions of the Convention: “those involving wills and property rights related to family relationships, arbitration agreements and disputes governed by company law. ”
The European Commission opened the public consultation regarding the Rome Convention of 1980 with the purpose of clarifying the issues as to which laws are applicable in cross-border disputes on contracts involving choice-of-law of different countries. It should be stressed that the signatories to the Rome Convention of 1980 are given the right of choice of which law shall to their contracts and the court that will hear their disputes. The public consultation is for the purpose of discussing the issue of converting the Rome Convention of 1980 into a community instrument.
One of the weaknesses of the Convention and the reason for the move to convert it into a community instrument is that it failed to provide a judicial body that shall interpret the provisions in case of disputes. The conversion therefore would pave the way for the European Court of Justice in interpreting the convention provisions as well as, allowance for updating certain fields like consumer protection and employment contracts. The proposals and discussion are embodied in a Green Paper. There was consultation that was conducted for the opinion of the people.
Finally after the consultation, the Green Paper entitled “Green Paper on the Review of the Consumer Acquis” was presented on February 8, 2007 by the European Commission. It proposes to contain a Common Frame of Reference which encompasses all the stages of Brussels’ legislation. However, it should be considered as a non-legal act, a tool box which embodies modules to be used in the legislative procedure of the Commission, interpretation and arbitration procedures. At present it is being drafted by a group of legal experts.