The work of the Study Group is conducted by two principal sets of bodies:
- Working Teams, operating on a permanent basis with responsibility for research and proposals within the particular fields of private law assigned to them; and
- a Coordinating Group, a body of almost fifty professors from virtually all the EU Member States which meets bianually and is charged with reviewing the content of submissions made by the Working Teams.
Organisational questions are addressed by a Steering Committee.
Working Teams and their Advisors
The day-to-day work of the Study Group is carried on in the Working Teams. Their work consists of scholarly comparative law research within their terms of reference, analytical discussion of the nature, extent and rationale of the legal principles existing within the various European jurisdictions researched and finally synthesis of common principles and demarcation of areas of profound diversity in the legal systems. Each Working Team determines for itself its own method for undertaking these tasks.
The Teams are supported by a panel of Advisors who have been chosen because of their national expertise in the relevant field of law under review. Advisors meet with the Teams at intervals to provide subject-specific input to the tenor and detail of the evolving work and they remain available for consultation by the Teams at other times. Given the familiarity with the intrinsic problems of a given legal topic which the Advisors possess, the Advisory Councils enable the direction and outcome of the research in each Team to be guided and informed by an independent standing pool of knowledge.
Working methods: Position Papers
The outcome of the studies undertaken in the Working Teams is reproduced in Position Papers, which are developed and refined on an evolving and iterative basis. Besides setting out the comparative legal research and analysis of the relevant rules, these papers endeavour to restate the law in the form of draft articles. These detail the principles of consensual or predominant acceptance in the current law across the Member States, while at the same time making provision for those aspects of law where the comparative research evidences substantial disharmony. In putting forward proposals, the draft principles often attempt to surmount existing legal diversity with a solution which bridges different approaches or adopts a fresh approach. These draft articles are accompanied by an introduction, detailed commentaries and notes whose purpose is to justify the particular rationalisation of current law which the articles embody, to demonstrate by means of appropriate references the support which the restated principles enjoy in the existing law of the various legal systems and to explain how interpretation and application of the restated principles produces the propositions contended for in the text of the paper.
At the various stages of their development, Position Papers are submitted to the Coordinating Group for scrutiny by its membership of distinguished jurists from all over Europe. In the light of the reasoned deliberations of the Coordinating Group, Position Papers are revised by Working Teams to reflect the further considerations which have emerged in the wider discussion of the texts. Revised or rewritten Position Papers are resubmitted to the Coordinating Group for fresh scrutiny. This process of refinement will be carried out recursively during the course of development and completion of the Position Papers, when, receiving final internal approval, it will be published for the benefit of the wider legal community. Further information on publications of the Study Group is set out in the section entitled the Study Group's Policy on Publication of Proposals. The strength of this open-ended process of improving the draft articles is that it ensures that they are supported by a breadth of academic opinion and that their suitability and intellectual justification is rigorously reviewed.
The working language for the Study Group is English. To enable expeditious conduct of its internal work, individual Working Teams may often use a different European language, having regard to the composition of the team.