Contracts - Introduction with a Focus on Civil Law

Course Status: 
CEU credits: 
ECTS credits: 
Academic year: 
Academic year: 
Academic year: 
Stefan Messmann

The economic unification of Europe is in progress: One important step on the way of such unification is the introduction of the Euro. However, if Europe is to become a unified market, there is no doubt that its private law will also have to be unified to some extent. By means of Regulations of the European Union, the implementation of Directives by national legislatures, and the adaptation of international treaties designed to unify the law, some unification of the European private law has already taken place. But this unification cannot be left entirely to the legislatures; as professor Kötz writes in the Preface of the book he jointly published with professor Flessner, entitled "European Contract Law": "Legislation will doubtless continue to be needed when a particular problem calls for a uniform solution, but if any proper 'common law of Europe' is to emerge, we must first "Europeanise" the way lawyers think, write and learn." Accordingly, this course is designed to bring closer to the students the European contract law through examining the principles and institutions common to the main European legal systems.

This course will first deal with all the essential rules on the formation, validity and content of contracts in general (Chapter I), while Chapter II is dealing with the involvement of third parties into the contract (agency, representation and contracts for the benefit of third parties). The performance of contracts (claims to performance, their enforcement and breach of contracts) is treated in Chapter III. Chapter IV deals with the effects of supervening events and especially with force majeure in the law of the European community, while Chapter V will give an economic analysis of post-communist legal reforms in the field of contract law. The last part (Chapter VI) of this course will give an overview on the unification efforts of the European contract law.



Hein Kötz and Axel Flessner: European Contract Law, Oxford 1997

Daniel T. Ostas and Burt A. Leete, Economic Analysis of Post-Communist Legal reform: The Case of Hungarian Contract Law, in: Acta Juridica Hungarica, 1994, Vol. 36, No 3-4, p. 189-226

Lando & Beale (eds.), Principles of European Contract Law Dordrecht, 1995

Michael Joachim Bonell, The UNIDROIT Principles – A Modern Approach to Contract Law, Irvington  N.Y., 2nd ed. 2006