The BLC started as a joint venture between the Law Faculties of the University of Cambridge and the University of Warsaw. The primary objective was to provide a corps of Polish lawyers with sufficient knowledge of English law to meet the needs of English and Polish law firms. Since then its popularity and prestige have increased considerably and has led to its course being recognised, by its students and law firm sponsors, as ideal preparation for legal practice in an international law firm.
In 2017, the original British Centre for English and European Legal Studies at the Warsaw University Faculty of Law and Administration held its twenty fourth graduation ceremony. Over these years students have been presented their awards by a number of special guests including the former UK Judge to the European Union, Sir Konrad Schiemann and Lord Robert Carnwath (UK Supreme Court).
Under the initial academic direction of Professor W.R. Cornish, FBA,CMG (University of Cambridge), Professor Richard Nolan and the current Academic Director Professor Richard Fentiman (University of Cambridge), and through the medium of the charity Juris Angliae Scientia Ltd, the Centre developed its current programme of studies, which is taught entirely in English.
Demand for the limited number of places on the BLC’s courses has always been high. BLC students have included professional lawyers, judges, law students, social scientists, translators and many more. Some students even travel to the BLC’s partner universities especially to study the course, such as a number of Ukrainian students who travelled to Warsaw University and studied the course thanks to the assistance of a grant from the British government’s Know How Fund.
The need for lawyers who have a background in European Union law, as well as a working knowledge of different systems of law in different European countries, is certain to assist their country in its early years of membership in the European Union. Since its inception the BLC has seen more than 2000 students pass through its centres, gaining on the way a background in both English law and EU law. Those graduates whilst continuing their varied careers in EU institutions, national ministries, universities or law firms (both national and international) have each in their way assisted in the transition of their countries during its early years of membership in the European Union. In helping to prepare them, the BLC has made, and continues to make, a significant contribution to the political and legal transformation in Central and Eastern Europe.
Although the programme was started initially in various Polish universities its teaching programmes have also taken place in co-operation with universities in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania and by mooting events in Ukraine and Croatia, this year to extend to include Georgia. The BLC teaching programmes are supported by a comprehensive e-learning structure with tutorial support and also offers legal training workshops for its students in co-operation with its law firms sponsors.