gain in importance in civil litigation in Common Law countries (for example, witness statements in England which may serve as an alternative for examination in chief) (Zuckerman, 1999, 47). Currently, the adversarial system is under attack. England has witnessed a major reform in this respect. As stated above, the role of the judge has been strengthened in this country, giving him extensive case-management powers. Consequently, the English judge has become much more like his Continental European counterpart (Stadler, 2003, 56).
At the same time the law of civil procedure of many Civil Law countries changes, bringing this procedure nearer to Common Law examples. Orality, for examples, which traditionally did not play a significant role in the systems that found their origin in the Romano-canonical procedure, has been on the rise ever since the nineteenth century (Van Rhee, 2005). At the same time, Continental procedural lawyers show an interest in various elements of English civil procedure, such as, for example, discovery and pre-action protocols.
Apart from harmonisation projects and the ‘natural’ movement of systems of civil procedure in each others direction, some influential international regulations and conventions play a harmonising role (Werlauf, 1999). Some of these have already been mentioned, for example, Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Within Europe the 1968 Brussels Convention on Jurisdiction and the Enforcement of Judgements in civil and commercial matters has been important. The Convention originally only applied to the then six Member States of the European Community, but became more influential when the Community/Union expanded. The Brussels Convention has recently been converted into a European Regulation (EC No. 44/2001, 22.12.2000, Official Journal L012 1-23). This Regulation is applicable to all Member States except from Denmark.
In 1988 the parallel Lugano Convention was put into place. This Convention aims at international cases involving the Member States of the European Union and the Members of the European Free Trade Association (Schwartze, 2000, 141-142).
On a world-wide scale harmonisation is due to various Conventions on civil procedural topics drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. An example is the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters (1970).
Conclusion The authors of the present article hope to have demonstrated that in the area of civil procedure some of the major differences that for a long time have set the various systems of civil procedure in the world apart from each other are disappearing. This occurs especially in those parts of the world, where the systems of civil procedure are in close contact with each other, for example in the European Union. There, the divide between the Common Law jurisdictions and the Civil Law jurisdictions has become less pronounced than in the past.
Whether or not harmonisation of civil procedure is a goal that should be pursued is open to discussion, as is the question how it should be pursued. Evidently the drafters of documents aiming at harmonisation are convinced of its benefits. Examples of such documents have been discussed in the present article, for example the model code of civil procedure in Latin American, or the Rules and Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure on a world-wide scale. However, even if one is not convinced of the blessings of harmonisation, it is clear that these documents and especially the comparative legal research on which they were based and to which they have given rise may contribute to a better understanding of the differences and similarities in the existing systems of civil procedure in today’s world. They may also give the procedural