The Academy is no longer the same institution that it was at the time of its creation. In 1924, difficulties of travel were still significant and the Academy’s meetings often provided the only opportunity for jurists to meet. This situation has now changed for at least two reasons. First, in addition to the permanent on-line connection, specialists come together much more frequently, whether as individuals invited to teach abroad or as participants at bilateral meetings. Further, since international organizations specializing in different branches of law have multiplied, the Academy is no longer the sole forum for meetings of lawyers at the universal level. This has reduced the Academy’s significance in such fields of action, although for reasons of principle and in order to preserve its original vocation, the Academy still undertakes research in all fields of legal science without exception.
When it began its activities, the Academy was able to hold meetings annually. Later, the proliferation of academic events –typical of our times– compelled the Academy to limit itself to the primary activity of convening, at intervals of four years, the organisation of an International Congress of Comparative Law and of intermediate and thematic congresses half-way. However, the organisation of join activities with other institutions, taking advantage of common synergies, should not be discarded.
The first International Congress of Comparative Law was held at The Hague in 1932. The subjects were limited in number –exactly twenty, grouped in five sections (methodology, sources of law and history; civil law and procedure; commercial and intellectual property law; public and penal law; and international law).2 The second congress was also held at The Hague, this time in 1937.3 The war brought with it a suspension of activities and meetings were only resumed in 1950. The Congresses after the war were as follows: London (1950), Paris (1954), Brussels (1958), Hamburg (1962), Uppsala (1966), Pescara (1970), Teheran (1974), Budapest (1978), Caracas (1982), Sydney (1986), Montreal (1990), Athens (1994), Bristol (1998), Brisbane (2002), Utrecht (2006), Washington D.C. (2010), and Vienna (2014). The first intermediate and thematic Congress was held at Mexico City in 2008, the second took place in Taipei in 2012, and the next one is expected to be held in Montevideo in 2016.
Currently the number of topics at each international congress has increased to about thirty. They touch on all major legal disciplines, approached form all possible perspectives.4 The selection of best topics continues to be a serious challenge. Obviously, it is necessary to pay attention to legal evolution, as well as to the arising of new fields, but also to the modifications of the many factors having an impact on the law. Thus, for instance, the unavoidable fact showing that the State is no longer the only legislator shall be taken into account when planning congresses and designating “special” reporters, who will not be always “national” reporters.