Change of Circumstances in European Contract Law – An Approach to the Relevant Issues and Doctrines

Unexpected Circumstances in European Contract Law, E. Hondius & H. Grigoleit, eds., Cambridge University Press, March 2011

13 Pages Posted: 24 May 2012 Last revised: 3 Apr 2013

See all articles by Ewoud H. Hondius

Ewoud H. Hondius

Utrecht University - Faculty of Law; Utrecht University - Molengraaff Institute for Private Law; Utrecht University - School of Law

Hans Christoph Grigoleit

Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2011

Abstract

The principle of pacta sunt servanda is universally recognized. However, the binding nature of the contract is loosened to a certain extent in all legal systems if the circumstances of the contract change fundamentally. As an introduction to a broad comparative analysis of European Contract law, the following article identifies the basic legal issues and doctrines relating to the phenomenon of change of circumstances. In particular, the paper proposes to distinguish between “conventional” doctrines – which derive certain remedies only from the contract itself – and “exceptional” doctrines – which provide relief for the burdened party directly on the basis of the principles of equity. This distinctions is also used to identify two sorts of approaches in the European legal systems: Those jurisdictions that have established a general “exceptional” doctrine specifically addressing the issue of change of circumstances and allowing for an adjustment of the contract are referred to as “open”. “Closed” legal systems, conversely, are those jurisdictions that do not offer such a doctrine.

Keywords: European Contract Law, contract law, comparative law, private law

JEL Classification: K12, K33

Suggested Citation

Hondius, Ewoud H. and Grigoleit, Hans Christoph, Change of Circumstances in European Contract Law – An Approach to the Relevant Issues and Doctrines (March 1, 2011). Unexpected Circumstances in European Contract Law, E. Hondius & H. Grigoleit, eds., Cambridge University Press, March 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2065840

Ewoud H. Hondius (Contact Author)

Utrecht University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Janskerkhof 3
Utrecht, 3512 BK
Netherlands

Utrecht University - Molengraaff Institute for Private Law ( email )

Janskerkhof 12
NL-3512 BL Utrecht
Netherlands

Utrecht University - School of Law ( email )

3508 TC Utrecht
Utrecht
Netherlands

Hans Christoph Grigoleit

Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich - Faculty of Law ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, 80539
Germany
+49 (0)89 / 2180 - 1471 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.jura.uni-muenchen.de/personen/grigoleit_hans/index.html

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