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Leaving the Shadow for the Test of Practice - On the Future of the Principles of European Contract Law*

Friedrich Blase#

1. Introduction

2. History and State of Affairs of the PECL

3. The Success Story of the UPICC

4. Specific Value of the PECL

5. Necessary Steps for the Future

6. Endnotes

Endnotes

Endnotes

Metadata

SiSU Metadata, document information

Manifest

SiSU Manifest, alternative outputs etc.

Leaving the Shadow for the Test of Practice

On the Future of the Principles of European Contract Law

copy @ Lex Mercatoria

Endnotes

 1. Fragistas, Arbitrage étranger et arbitrage international en droit privé, Rev.cit.dr.int.priv. 1960, at 1 et seq., Goldstaijn, The New Law Merchant, J.Bus.L. 1961, at 12 et seq., Schmitthoff, International Business Law: A new Law Merchant, Current Law and Social Problems, 1961, at 129 et seq.; Goldman, Frontières du droit et lex merctaoria, Archives de philosophie du droit 1964, at 177 et seq.

 2. The term 'modern' is used to distinguish the idea of a contemporary lex mercatoria from the lex mercatoria which was the commonly accepted body of law governing trade in Europe in the Middle Ages.

 3. Berger, Creeping Codification of the Lex Mercatoria, at 1 et seq.

 4. Ibid.

 5. The Principles are abbreviated in number of ways. The abbreviation UPICC is not common although it mirrors the common form of abbreviation used for conventions and bodies of national law.

 6. UNIDROIT (ed.), Principles of International Commercial Contracts, 1994; for an overview see Berger, Die UNIDORIT-Prinzipien für Internationale Handelsverträge, Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Rechtswissenschaft 1995, at 217 et seq.; for a detailed study of the UNIDROIT-Principles see Bonell, An International Restatement of Contract Law, 1997, at 1 et seq.

 7. Cf. Preamble of the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts.

 8. Work started in 1971 when the Governing Council of UNIDROIT decided to include the elaboration of 'Principles of International Commercial Contracts' in the Work Programme of the Institute, cf. Introduction, UNIDROIT (ed.), Principles of International Commercial Contracts, 1994, at vii.

 9. Cf. Introduction, UNIDROIT (ed.), Principles of International Commercial Contracts, 1994, at vii et seq.

 10. See the exhaustive bibliography in Bonell, An International Restatement of Contract Law, 2nd ed., 1997, at 527 - 561.

 11. For example the Annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot held annually since 1993 in Vienna, Austria; for a report see Bergsten, The Fifth Moot and Plans for the Sixth, 2 Vindobona Journal (1998) at 51 et seq.

 12. See Bonell, The UNIDROIT Principles in Practice: The Experience of the First Two Years, Uniform Law Review 1997 at 34 et seq.; Mayer, Die UNIDROIT-Prinzipien für internationale Handelsverträge, AJP 1998 at 499 et seq.

 13. See also infra at The Success Story of the UPICC.

 14. On 13 October 1999 the European Commission proposed doubling to 12 the number of countries negotiating to join the European Union. They include Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland as well as Slovenia and now also Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovakia; see Norman, Brussels adds six to EU fast track, in Financial Times, 14 Oct. 1999, at 1. For the general issues relating to enlargement cf. Hamkens/Röttgers (ed.), Reform der EU - Mit oder ohne Mittel- und Osteuropa, 1996.

 15. See the discussions in Capeletti (ed.), New Perspectives for a Common Law of Europe, 1978; for a more recent analysis see Hartkamp/Hesselink et al. (eds.), Towards a European Civil Code - Second Revised and Expanded Edition, 1998.

 16. Lando, Unfair Contract Clauses and a European Uniform Commercial Code, in: Capeletti (ed.), New Perspectives for a Common Law of Europe, 1978, at 267 (282).

 17. For a detailed study cf. Reithmann/Martiny, Internationales Vertragsrecht, 5th edition 1996, at 1 et seq.

 18. Lando, Unfair Contract Clauses and a European Uniform Commercial Code, in: Capeletti (ed.), New Perspectives for a Common Law of Europe, 1978, at 267 (282 et seq.); Lando, Principles of European Contract Law, RabelsZ 1992, at 261 et seq.

 19. Also known as the Lando-Commission in honour of its founder and chairman.

 20. Lando/Beale (eds.), Principles of European Contract Law - Part I: Performance, Non-performance and Remedies, 1995.

 21. Cf. de Lamberterie/Rouhette/Tallon (eds.), Les principes du droit européen du contrat - L'exécution, l'inexecution et ses suites, 1997.

 22. Lando / Beale (eds.), Principles of European Contract Law - Parts I and II, prepared by The Commission on European Contract Law, Kluwer Law International: The Hague, London, Boston, 1999.

 23. See ‹http://www.jus.uio.no/lm/eu.contract.principles.1998/index.html›.

 24. Cf. Bonell, An International Restatement of Contract Law, 1997, at 85.

 25. For a detailed comparison of their content see Bonell, Restatement at 88 et seq.

 26. Bonell, An International Restatement of Contract Law, 1997, at 87, fn. 7.

 27. Berger, Creeping Codification of the Lex Mercatoria, at 67.

 28. Cf. also infra at The Success Story of the UPICC

 29. Cf. presentation of the project by Guiseppe Gandolfi at the Centrum für Europäisches Privatrecht at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität zu Münster on 12 December 1998.

 30. For an overview of the project cf. Academy of European Private Lawyers (ed.), Code Europeen des Contrats - Avant-Projet, at 1 et seq.

 31. Cf. infra at Necessary Steps for the Future.

 32. The UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods may be the only exception. Although even this instrument is limited in scope and provides for a great number of reservations by the contracting states.

 33. The English, French, Spanish and Italian version are available at UNIDROIT, Rome, the Chinese version is available at Legal Publishers and Distributors, Beijing, the Czech version is available at CODEX Bohemia, the Dutch version is available at Koninklijke vermande; the Russian version is available at International Centre for Financial and Economic Development, the Slovak version is available at Iura Edition.

 34. Bonell, An International Restatement of Contract Law, 1997, Annex; Berger, Formalisierte oder schleichende Kodifizierung des transnationalen Wirtschaftsrechts, 1996, Anhang; Berger, Creeping Codification of the Lex Mercatoria, Annex.

 35. Translations of the complete versions into Arabic, Farsi and Portuguese as well as of the text of the black letter rules into Indonesian are in preparation.

 36. See contributions by Boele-Woelki (1996 at 652 et seq.), Boggiano (1996 at 219 et seq.), Bonell (1996 at 26 et seq, at 229 et seq., 1997 at 34 et seq., 1998 at 275 et seq.), Drobnig (1998 at 385 et seq.), Farnsworth (1998 at 397 et seq.), Ferrari (1997 at 451 et seq.), Fontaine (1998 at 405 et seq.), Furmston (1998 at 419 et seq.), Goode (1997 at 231 et seq.), Kahn (1998 at 519 et seq.), Komarov (1996 at 247 et seq.), Ramberg (1998 at 651 et seq.), and Rosett (1997 at 441 et seq.).

 37. The UNIDROIT Principles for International Commercial Contracts: A New Lex Mercatoria?, Institute of International Business Law and Practice at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, 1994; Colloquium on the UNIDROIT Principles at the Universidad Autónoma de México and the Universidad Panamericana in Mexico City, 1996; A new approach to international commercial relations: the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts, Inter-American Congress in Valencia, 1996; cf. also the papers presented at the Biannual 25th Conference of the International Bar Association in Melbourne, 1994; the papers presented at the Symposium 'Setting Forth the Law of Contract' at Miami School of Law, 1991, papers presented at the Symposia 'Alternativen zur legislatorischen Rechtsvereinheitlichung' (1991) and 'Europäische Vertragsrechtsvereinheitlichung und Deutsches Recht'(1999) held at the Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht in Hamburg.

 38. Bonell, An International Restatement of Contract Law, 2nd ed., 1997; see also the remarks by Bonell in the preface to this second edition.

 39. See the detailed bibliography in Bonell, An International Restatement of Contract Law, 1997, at 515 et seq. and the select bibliography on the internet site of UNIDROIT at ‹http://www.unidroit.org/english/principles/pr-bib.htm›.

 40. Cf. American Journal of Comparative Law, Volume 40 (1992); Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law, Volume 3 (1994); Tulane Law Review, Volume 69 (1995).

 41. The CISG Web Site maintained by the Institute for International Commercial Law at Pace University - School of Law, New York at ‹http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu›.

 42. Cf. Institute of International Business Law and Practice (ed.), UNIDROIT Principles for International Commercial Contracts: A New Lex Mercatoria?, ICC Publication n° 490/1, 1995; cf. also Berger, Arbitral Practice and the UNIDROIT Principles for International Commercial Contracts, AmJCompL 1998 at 129 et seq.; Hill, A Businessman's View of the UNIDROIT Principles, Journal of International Arbitration 1996 at 163 et seq.

 43. Bonell, The UNIDROIT Principles in Practice - The Experience of the First Two Years, ULR 1997 at 2 (8 et seq.), Bonell, Restatement at 120 et seq.; Bonell, Erste Entscheidungen zu den UNIDROIT Principles, Bull. ASA 1997 at 600 et seq.; Berger, Arbitral Practice and the UNIDROIT Principles for International Commercial Contracts, AmJCompL 1998, at 129 et seq.; Mayer, Die UNIDROIT-Prinzipien für interntionale Handelsverträge, AJP at (499) 510; for a recently published award see ICC Award 8486, reprinted in: Clunet / Journal du Droit International 1998, at 1047 (1048).

 44. Schlechtriem, UNIDROIT Principles (Einheitliche Prinzipien für Verträge) und Werkvertragsrecht, in: FS von Craushaar, at 157 et seq.

 45. The UPICC have influenced the drafting of the Russian Civil Code, the Estonian Law of Obligations and the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania, cf. Bonell, International Restatement, 2nd ed., at 236 et seq.

 46. Since 1994/95 the use of the UPICC was encouraged in all cases of the Moot. The competition of 1998/99 even included a contract which was solely governed by the UPICC.

 47. Cf. Bonell, The UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts and the Principles of European Contract Law: Similar Rules for the Same Purposes?, ULR 1996, at 229 et seq.; cf. also Bonell, International Restatement of Contract Law, 1997, at 99 et seq.

 48. Cf. Deutsche Bundesbank (ed.), Monatsbericht März 1999, at 64.

 49. Cf. Deutsche Bundesbank (ed.), Monatsbericht März 1999, at 64.

 50. For this mode of application with respect to the UPICC cf. Bonell, International Restatement, 2nd ed., at 238 et seq.

 51. Cf. Article 17 of the UNCITRAL Model Law. The UNCITRAL Model Law has been incorporated into the German Code of Civil Procedure as of January 1, 1998. For a detailed study cf. Berger (ed.), Das neue deutsche Schiedsverfahrensrecht / The New German Arbitration Law, 1998.

 52. Cf. Art. 3.1 UPICC.

 53. Cf. Art. 3.101 - Art. 3.304 PECL.

 54. Cf. Art. 4.101 PECL, which reads: 'This Chapter [concerning validity] does not deal with invalidity from illegality, immorality or lack of capacity.'

 55. The UNIDROIT Working Group has only relatively recently resumed a review of the current principles and work on issues such as agency, limitations of actions, assignment of contractual rights and duties, contracts for the benefit of a third party, set-off, and waiver. Interestingly enough, the Working Group has assigned a special report on the adaptations of the UPICC in the light of electronic commerce; cf. Report on the First Session of the Working Group for the preparation of a second enlarged edition of the Unidroit Principles of International Commercial Contracts, reprinted at ‹http://www.unidroit.org/english/princples/wg-1998.htm›.

 56. Art. 1.101 PECL.

 57. As already their name suggests, cf. also Preamble of the UPICC.

 58. Bonell, An International Restatement of Contract Law, 1997, at 51.

 59. Reithmann/Martiny, Internationales Vertragsrecht, at 633.

 60. Cf. § 1031 para. 5 ZPO (German Code of Civil Procedure): If a consumer is involved, arbitration agreements must be signed as a separate document.

 61. In fact the lack of this prospect brought UNIDROIT in the first place to the conclusion that it should not opt for a draft convention but rather non-binding set of rules; cf. Bonell, A Restatement of Principles of International Commercial Contracts: An Academic Exercise or A Practical Need?, RDAI 1988, at 873 (886).

 62. For an updated list of the countries that have signed and adopted the Convention, turn to ‹http://www.un.or.at/uncitral/status/status.pdf›.

 63. See Art. 1 - 5 CISG. The CISG is narrowed to apply only to sales contracts. Consumer purchases - though not consumer sales - as well as combined contracts with a dominating service element are excluded. Even if applicable, the CISG itself does not address questions concerning the validity of the contract nor the effect on the ownership of the sold goods. It leaves these questions to be regulated by the national law applicable by virtue of the conflicts of laws rules.

 64. See Art. 92 et seq. CISG. Especially the reservation of the writing requirement for the conclusion, amendment or termination of the contract (Art. 96, 12 CISG) might pose problems with respect to the trade on the internet.

 65. See only the relationship between Art. 48 and 49 CISG.

 66. cf. in general Knütel, Rechtseinheit in Europa und römisches Recht, in ZeuP 1994, at 244 et seq.

 67. Gordley, Common law und civil law: eine überholte Unterscheidung, in ZeuP 1993, at 498 et seq.

 68. Resolution of 6 May 1994 (Dok. A3 - 0329/94), Official Journal of the European Communities C 205/518.

 69. 'Europäische Vertragsrechtsvereinheitlichung und deutsches Recht'; papers to be published at the end of 1999 in a joint issue of the AcP and the RabelsZ.

 70. See for a first practice of this the contributions in the newly established European Journal of Law Reform, Vol.1 (1999) No. 3.; however, the contributions still focus largely on the UPICC.

 71. Cf. a planned publication including both the UPICC and the PECL: Centre for Transnational Law (CENTRAL) (ed.), Applying Transnational Principles in Commercial Practice - A Reference Guide, 1999.

 72. Cf. Flessner, Rechtsvereinheitlichung durch Rechtswissenschaft und Juristenausbildung, RabelsZ 56 (1992), at 243 et seq.


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