The Economic Effectiveness of the General Theory of Contract: The Experience of Amending the French Civil Code in 2016

Dr. Pierre Mallet
Assistant Professor of Civil Law
College of Law, Ajman University, UAE


The reform of contract, obligation and evidence law, the process of which has been underway for more than ten years, was completed by the publication of Order No. 2016-131 of February 10, 2016 in the French Official Journal published on February 11, 2016. Book III of the Civil Code is rewritten, mainly in three new titles: the sources of obligations (title III), the general regime of obligations (title IV) and proof of obligations (title V).
These new rules came into force on October 1, 2016. They will apply to contracts entered into after this date.
It is difficult to detect in this new amendment a clear philosophy of social relations. Rather, it is a work of compromise that draws its inspiration from the convergence of the Catala and Terré projects, as well as the European Principles of Contract Law (PEDC).
This amendment aims to develop the general theory of contracts and make it more realistic and practical. The French legislator tried to combine the principles of contractual freedom on the one hand, and the principles that call for greater state intervention in regulating the contractual relationship by protecting the weak party in it on the other hand. The legislator also adopted solutions to issues that were ignored by the previous legislation such as negotiations, the obligation of insight, unilateral promise and preference contract, contract assignment, representation, compensation, and debt waiver. The French legislator consolidated the jurisprudence that had been settled in the legal system. Through this, the legislator wanted to adopt stable and clear rules that can be accessed away from the contradictions of judicial stances.

Keywords: contractual freedom, responsibility, negotiations, good faith, contract, public order, qualification, interpretation.

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