The Common Frame of Reference as a Source of European Private Law

53 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2008 Last revised: 1 Apr 2011

See all articles by Martijn W. Hesselink

Martijn W. Hesselink

European University Institute – Department of Law (LAW)

Date Written: November 26, 2008


The Draft Common Frame of Reference is likely to become an authoritative source of law in a substantive sense. Even if it will not obtain any formal status (e.g. as an optional code) in the near future, it will probably become an important source of inspiration for the Europeanization of private law. This likely course of events is also desirable: a CFR-friendly interpretation of national and EC private law should be a key element of a European legal method for the developing multi-level system of European private law. Furthermore, the academic draft CFR provides a good basis for a final political CFR. In other words, the argument that the DCFR is of insufficient quality is not convincing. Nevertheless, the DCFR can and should certainly be improved. A European Law Institute and a WikiCFR would be good ways of including stakeholders in the process. However, that is not sufficient: what is urgently needed at this moment is real democratic input, with a focus not only on the scope but also on the content of the CFR. As to its substance, the CFR should be amended along three lines: social justice issues, back to contract, and co-ordination with the proposed EC directive on consumer rights.

Keywords: CFR, European Private law, European Law, Contract Law, Democracy, Legal Method, Sources of Law, Soft Law

Suggested Citation

Hesselink, Martijn W., The Common Frame of Reference as a Source of European Private Law (November 26, 2008). Tulane Law Review, Vol. 83, No. 4, pp. 919-971, 2009, Centre for the Study of European Contract Law Working Paper Series No. 2008/10, Available at SSRN:

Martijn W. Hesselink (Contact Author)

European University Institute – Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Villa Salviati
Via Bolognese 156
Florence, 50139

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