All entries for November 2012

November 22, 2012

My experience with comparative law.

During the three first years of my studies in Lille, I learned French law, but I also had modules about Belgian law, Spanish law, we had German law in German and English law in English. Before I started the ICP, I had an overview about different legal cultures, which is probably why I choose the ICP.

I think that we can’t understand a society without its legal system, and vice-versa. So, this programme gave us the opportunity to live in different countries, to learn different languages, and to understand and learn different legal cultures. Even sometime, it is really difficult to understand. For example, the german “Abstraktionsprinzip” is still abstract for me.

Moreover, in the way of harmonization of law, we have to be able to understand and have knowledge about the different legal system. We can observe an harmonization in European contract law, we have several examples with the Lando Principles, or UNIDROIT principles, or also the DCFR.

I think that to understand and improve a system, we have to learn from the other system. The French Civil Code is now really old, and we have in Europe countries, which have developed a very modern private law, Dutch law is a good example on that point. Beyond the development of the harmonization, countries can learn from the other systems, and improve their owns.

In Europe, all the legal systems come from same legal families, even every country developed its own legal culture.

To study comparative private law has many benefits, we learn different legal cultures, we learn why a harmonization of some area of law is necessary, and we learn how and why this harmonization is possible. And the most important it brings open-mindness.

Essay: the good faith.

I choose as topic the good faith. This is first and foremost a moral concept, it is a requirement of honesty, loyalty or sincerity. Good faith is an essential institution of social life, it is considered that the relationship between individuals must be imbued with this good faith. All legal systems attach a certain place and importance to it. However, this place is not the same in every legal system and the concept has different meanings.

The concept of good faith crossed through the ages and scored the different legal systems we know. The question is then, to what extent the differences in understanding the concept of good faith can be found in the application of contract law in the English and French legal systems ?

I will try to focus first on the difference in legal culture in the both legal systems. Is there a true principle of good faith in English law ? What is the importance of the concept of good faith in french civil law ? Then, I will focus on the usufulness and the application of goof faith in contract law. How do the two different légal systems apply the principle of good faith ? What is the influence of international law on the development of European contract law ?

The good faith is a very important and complex notion. This is a moral concept, a religious concept, the good faith has its origins in Roman law is the « Bona Fides ».

I find interesting to study a subject with so complex and distant origins and which still is an important issue in the national legal systems, as well as in European and international law.

Codes and conventions : Code civil, United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) – 1980, UNIDROIT Principles, Draft Common Frame of Reference.
Theses and comments : La règle morale dans les obligations civiles, Georges Ripert, 1939, Congrès de l’Association Henri Capitant des Amis de la culture juridique française, Louisiane, 18/22 juin 1992, « La bonne foi », Rapport français par Patrice Jourdain, Professeur à l’Université de Paris XII
Books : Beale, Bishop and Furmston ‘Contract Law – Cases and Materials’, (2007) 5th edn. OUP, Zimmerman and Whittaker ‘Good Faith in European Contract Law’, (2000), CUP 1 edn.
Cases : Walford v Miles (1992), Smith v Hughes (1871).

The duty of good faith in the pre–contractual negotiations.Many different Civil Codes contain elemen

Many different Civil Codes contain elements which establish a général duty of pre-contractual good faith.

The pre-contractual negotiations are often as important as the contract between the parties. During this time, the parties agree on the terms of the contract, which will be legally binding for them.

The good faith is a principle which is essential to the contract. Some Civil Codes refer to it. In the French Code Civil, in the Article 1134 it is written that « Contracts (…) must be performed in good faith » It does not refer especially to pre-contractual negotiations, but french autors do recognize a général duty of good faith in the pre-contractual negotiations.

In German law, the parties enter in a legal relationship just by taking up negotiations. It means that they have duties, as the good faith, even befor the formation of the contract.

The italian Codice civile is probably the most explicit, in the Article 1337 is is written « During the course of the negotiations and in the formation of the contract, the parties must act in good faith ».

The UNIDROIT principles and PECL also accept the notion of good faith.

The good faith is a moral concept, it is very difficult to define it. But in the perspective of the formation of a contract, most legal cultures agree about the importance of this concept. The good faith is a very important élément of legal relationship, especially in cases of contracts of sell for example. If someone wants to buy a house, it is understanble that this person is expecting from the seller, that he really wants to sell it. Then even before they sign the contract, both parties have to be in a Relationship of good faith.

Does the agreement transfer the property ?

The question is to know when is the property transfered, and does the agreement between the parties have an effect on this transfer of property ?

We can have as example different system in different coutries :

We can observe in the French Civil Code, in the articles 1138 and 1583, that the property is acquired by the buyer at the moment the parties in contract have agreed about the object and the price. For example, the payment of money as nothing to do with the transfer of property.

In English law, there is no unified transfer system, but the rule on sale has been codified in the Sale of Goods Act 1893 and the Sale of Goods Act 1979. From that time there were three ways of transferring title in movables in English common law.

An other example is Austrian law, in which a contract of sale does not itself transfer the property. The agreement between the parties is not sufficient to transfer the property.

We will focus on French law and try to explain that, the fact that the transfer of the object is not a requirement for the transfer of property could be a disadvantage for the buyer. For example, if A sells a boat to B. They agree about the object, the price, a contract is formed, so the transfer of property is done. B is now the owner of the boat, even if he hasn’t paid yet the price. If between the moment of the agreement between the both parties, and the moment B receive the boat, this one has been destroyed, then B still has to pay A.

The transfer of property with the agreement between the parties is the general rule in French law, but the parties can agree that the transfer of property will happen at an other time.

Because there are different systems, we can then understand the need of the CISG, which provide a fair and uniform regime for contracts for the international sale of goods.

November 2012

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