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General clauses or standards (Generalklauseln, clauses generales) are legal rules which are not precisely formulated, terms and concepts which in fact do not even have a clear core. They are often applied in varying degrees in various legal systems to a rather wide range of contract cases when certain issues arise issues such as abuse of rights, unfairness, good faith, fairness of duty or loyalty or honesty, duty of care, and other such contract terms not lending themselves readily to clear or permanent definition. Here for the first time is a systematic discussion of this kind of rule in the evolving and dynamic context of European contract law. A collection of twelve insightful essays by leading European law authorities, the book is based on a conference organized jointly by the Society of European Contract Law (SECOLA) and l'association Henri Capitant, held in the 'grande salle' of the French Supreme Court in Paris in 2005.
The subject is approached along three distinct but interconnected avenues:
comparative contract law, in which the different models to be found among Member States particularly the Germanic, French, and English common law systems are explored with an eye to differences and common ground;
EC contract law, in which the general clause approach has tended to focus on labour law and consumer law, and in which the European Court of Justice more and more assumes the final say; and the European codification dimension, in which a potential instrument on the European level would compete with national laws and develop closely with them.
The authors demonstrate that a focus on general clauses in contract law, embracing as it does a wide range of types of contracts, helps enormously with the necessary integration of legal scholarship and economic approaches, and of legal science and legal practice in the field. Numerous analytic references to relevant cases and EC Directives give a practical impetus to the far-reaching but immediately applicable theory presented in this important book. As European contract law continues to develop rapidly, this seminal contribution is sure to increase in value and usefulness.