Contract Theory and EU Contract Law

Forthcoming in: Elgar Handbook on EU Consumer & Contract Law (Christian W Twigg-Flesner, ed)

21 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2015 Last revised: 25 Nov 2015

See all articles by Martijn W. Hesselink

Martijn W. Hesselink

European University Institute; University of Amsterdam

Date Written: October 15, 2015


This paper explores the relationship between contract theory and European contract law. In particular, it confronts the leading contract law theories with the main characteristics of EU contract law. The conclusion is that the two do not match well. In particular, monist normative contract theories are largely irreconcilable with the contract law of the EU. The paper further addresses the main implications of this mismatch, both for contract theory and for EU contract law. It suggests that in the light of the two undeniable facts of the Europeanisation of contract law and the pluralism of reasonable worldviews the essentialist and other monist contract theories may have become untenable.

Keywords: contract theory, European contract law

JEL Classification: K12

Suggested Citation

Hesselink, Martijn W., Contract Theory and EU Contract Law (October 15, 2015). Forthcoming in: Elgar Handbook on EU Consumer & Contract Law (Christian W Twigg-Flesner, ed), Available at SSRN: or

Martijn W. Hesselink (Contact Author)

European University Institute ( email )

Villa Salviati
Via Bolognese 156
Florence, 50139

University of Amsterdam ( email )

University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Law
P.O. Box 1030
Amsterdam, 1000 BA

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics