Human Rights and Private Law relations

Course outline

The course will give an overall assessment of the problems of enforcing human rights in private law relationships. This assessment implies the understanding of the universal nature of human rights and fitting them into the structure of private law as well as mapping the values inherent in human rights in private law relationships. This knowledge covers also the developments of law concerning the liability of the state on the level of theory and practice as well. The course involves an analysis of American developments too especially the practice of American courts in the application of the Alien Tort Claims Act and addresses the possibility of equivalent litigation in European legal environment. The general method is, understanding the relevant human rights and their implications in private law relationships and evaluating the consequences of these implications on the level of national law. Comparative analysis of law is also applied as well as the practice of the European Court of Human Rights is analysed. Open questions are also discussed.


Accordingly, the course provides a general model of thinking which is applied for analysing the regulatory and practical aspects that are sensible in context of enforcing human rights in private law relationships. Detailed and far reaching analysis is provided to students about the obligations imposed on private parties/non-governmental organizations that are derived from human rights. The knowledge provided to students focus especially on the right to property, privacy, anti-.discrimination law and positive obligations of the state concerning the right to life and bodily integrity. The course develops the skills of the students for understanding law, provides a proper model for thinking in context of private law relationships and enforcement of human rights. It helps them to understand the parallels and differences of private law and public law enforcement, extends their scope of thinking and helps them to eliminate the doctrinal barriers of assessing relevant issues properly, like the public-private divide and the problems of interpreting written law. They will be aware of the relevant court practice in Europe and in the United States as well touching upon the position of multi-national companies and other market players which is a very recent development of law in the past two decades.  The course will provide updated knowledge to the students concerning the relevant issues and gives new context to enforcing such basic values as protection of property and human dignity.  


  • András Sajó, Renáta Uitz (eds), The constitution in private relations: Expanding Constitutionalism, Vol 2. Utrecht: Eleven International Publishing; 2005. (Issues in constitutional law; vol 2)


  • Jörg Fedtke, Dawn Oliver (eds) Human Rights and the Private Sphere: A Comparative Study, Taylor & Francis, 2007
  • Katja S Ziegler (ed) Human rights and private law - privacy as autonomy, Oxford etc., Hart Publishing, 2007


Attila Menyhárd