On 1 July 2010 the European Commission published a Green Paper on policy options for progress towards a European Contract Law for consumers and businesses. In August the UK Ministry of Justice launched a Call for Evidence on the issues raised by the Green Paper.

The Green Paper (http://ec.europa.eu/justice/news/ consulting_public/0052/consultation_questionaire_en.pdf) argues that the current system of national laws creates unnecessary complexity and hampers cross-border trade. It sets out seven policy options, ranging from publishing the work of a group of experts looking at the issue to establishing a European civil code. The European Commission apparently favours option number four which would see the creation of an optional instrument of European contract law. This so-called 28th regime would insert into the national laws of the 27 member states an alternative set of contract law rules which could be chosen by contracting parties as the governing law for their contract. Consultation on the Green Paper closes on 11 January 2011.

The responses to the Ministry of Justice Call for Evidence (http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/call-forevidence- 180810.htm) will inform the Government’s response to the Green Paper. Whilst the Green Paper assumes that the current situation causes problems, the Call for Evidence starts by asking whether the current situation does cause problems. It also asks for opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of each of the options set out in the Green Paper and asks for responses to focus primarily on issues that flow from the legal framework rather than from different administrative systems and languages. Responses are required by 26 November.