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COMPARATIVE PRIVATE LAW THE WORK ON A COMMON CONTRACT LAW University of Oslo Prof. Giuditta Cordero Moss.

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Presentation on theme: "COMPARATIVE PRIVATE LAW THE WORK ON A COMMON CONTRACT LAW University of Oslo Prof. Giuditta Cordero Moss."— Presentation transcript:

1 COMPARATIVE PRIVATE LAW THE WORK ON A COMMON CONTRACT LAW University of Oslo Prof. Giuditta Cordero Moss

2 A Common Contract Law? Globalisation, Regionalisation Common regulation of sectors Contract law not harmonised Mechansims that permit cross-border contracts Vision: a common contract law EU action plan Does vision solve the percieved problems?

3 Contract law is not harmonised -I Tender for construction in Italy Norwegian contractor makes a bid Bid based on local sub-contractors’ prices Contractor is awarded the contract Tender for construction in England Norwegian contractor makes a bid Bid based on local sub-contractors’ prices Contractor is awarded the contract

4 The subcontractors’ offer ”This offer is binding on the offeror and cannot be revoked before 30 days have elapsed from the date hereof” Subcontractor revokes the offer before the term (but after the the contract was awarded)

5 Consequences Italian law: –Firm offer cannot be revoked before the term –Subcontractor is legally bound English law: –Firm offer is not binding unless there is consideration –Subcontractor is not bound

6 Contract law is not harmonised -II Norwegian producer purchases components from Italian supplier Force Majeure circumstance reduces supplier’s capacity Supplier has delivery obligations towards plurality of creditors At reduced capacity supplier can meet obligations towards only one creditor Norwegian producer purchases components from English supplier Force Majeure circumstance reduces supplier’s capacity Supplier has delivery obligations towards plurality of creditors At reduced capacity supplier can meet obligations towards only one creditor

7 Force majeure clause ”Non performance by a party hereto of its obligations hereunder is excused if such party was prevented from fulfilling its obligations by an event beyond such party’s control, that was not foreseeable and that could not be prevented or overcome by the prevented party using reasonable efforts.”

8 Consequences Italian law –Supplier’s obligations are reduced pro rata with the capacity reduction –Purchasers can demand delivery pro rata with the other creditors English law –”Frustration kills the contract” –Impossibility to deliver is deemed to be a consequence of supplier’s own fact –Purchasers can demand whole delivery

9 Mechanisms for cross-border contracts Conflict rules determine the law of what country governs Conflict rules are part of each country’s own law EU has harmonised conflict rules Norway has own conflict rules

10 Mechanisms for cross-border contracts, cont. Judge applies his own conflict rules First step: identify forum Then: apply conflict rule So: conflict rule determines what country’s substantive law governs the contract

11 Application of conflict rules FIRM OFFER Forum: Lugano convention, art. 2 or 5.1 Governing Law: –Italian subcontractor: Italian law –English subcontractor: English law FORCE MAJEURE Forum: Lugano convention, art. 2 or 5.1 Governing Law: –Italian supplier: Italian law –English supplier: English law

12 Vision: A common (European) contract law Assumption: –Plurality of systems is confusing –Conflict rules are complicated –Domestic legal system are meant for domestic transactions Vision: –An international system deriving from the parties’ own practice

13 From lex mercatoria to general contract principles ”Principles rooted in the good sense and common practice of the generality of civilised nations” Contractual practice Model laws, conventions Standard contracts Private codifications Restatements

14 To improve lex mercatoria’s weaknesses: –Difficult to determine –Not systematic –Too vague 1994, UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts –Not a codification of existing principles –Systematic set of principles based on consensus among international academics

15 Principles of European Contract Law ”Commission on European Contract Law” : PECL I,II and III: ommission_on_ecl/ Aim of PECL –Binding for all EU public contracts –Binding for private contracts, if referred to by parties –Long term: binding for all contracts

16 Commission’s Communication Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on European Contract Law – COM (2001) 398 final, Requests comments on four alternatives: –Leave it to market forces –Through research establish general European principles –Improve coherence of existing European law –Enact a European code

17 The answers to the Communication 181 answers Each alternative has been supported and criticised Working groups established to develop each alternative (especially 2 and 4) In some academic circles focus on answer from: –Commission on European Contract Law and Study Group on a European Civil Code (PECL)

18 The Commission’s Action Plan A more coherent European contract law – An action plan – COM (2003) 68 final, : –Continue sector-based approach –Increase coherence of existing European law (CFR) –Support development of European standard contracts (webpage) –Examine possibility of general measures, such as “an optional instrument” “European contract law and the revision of the acquis: the way forward” – COM(2004) 651 final

19 Action plan’s effect Common Frame of Reference for Acquis Comunitaire –Does not cover general contract law EU Standard contracts –Must be referred to –Do not solve interpretation problems –Dropped ( First Annual Progress Report on European Contract Law and the Acquis Review, COM (2005) 456 final) Optional Instrument –Must be referred to –Does not help if vacuum –Does not totally exclude application of national law

20 Common Frame of Reference A legislator’s guide or tool-box fe_shop/fair_bus_pract/cont_law/index_en.htm –Commn fundamental principles –Definitions of key concepts –Model rules Joint network on European Private Law

21 Principles’ application - I Do the principles give a uniform regulation to the areas where governing laws give different regulations?

22 PECL and firm offer Italian Law: –Offer is binding until term expires English law: –Offer is not binding until it has been accepted (or there is a consideration) PECL, art. 2:202: –Offer is not binding until it has been accepted, but cannot be revoked if it contains a term PECL, art. 1:103: –PECL can derogate from mandatory rules, if governing law allows it –PECL cannot derogate from internationally mandatory rules –Consideration?

23 PECL and Force Majeure Italian law: –Purchasers are entitled to delivery pro rata with each other English law: –Purchasers are entitled to whole delivery PECL, art. 8:108: –No specific regulation PECL, art. 1:106 (2): –If regulation lacks, underlying principles shall be applied. If this is not possible, governing law shall be applied

24 Application of the Principles - II Do the Principles ensure a uniform application where they contain a regulation?

25 Good faith Unidroit: Good faith is general principle (1.7). To be understood as good faith in international trade PECL: General duty to act in good faith (1:201). Autonomous interpretation Is termination upon immaterial breach against good faith?

26 Good faith in international trade General principle? Generally acknowledged trade usage? Contract practice –Good faith is general principle Awards (no specific standard) CISG (no good faith as duty between parties) … UNIDROIT Principles and PECL

27 Application of Principles As an integral part of the contract, if they have been incorporated by the parties –Not applicable if contrast with mandatory governing law (art. 1.4) As an expression of trade uses, if they have not been incorporated –To corroborate governing law –Rarely as an independent source of law

28 Conclusion Comparative law as a tool towards unification? –Unification is not exhaustive –Even unified wording is interpreted in light of interpreter’s own legal background Different legal systems will continue to survive long after unification (if any)


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