Mortgage Debt and the Social Function of Contract

14 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

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Date Written: November 2016


The high numbers of over‐indebtedness and of evictions in Europe since the financial crisis have highlighted the need to re‐think the role that mortgage credit plays for societies. This contribution examines the social function of contract law, based on the observation that contract law is a means of allocating welfare in a political economy in which the welfare state is in retreat. The claim asserted in this article is that EU law in the field of mortgages does not fulfil its social function because it is based on a formalistic understanding of contract law. In order to close the protective gap brought about by a shift in the allocation of welfare from public provision to private markets without altering the understanding of contracts, the proposal is to follow the cooperative contract model of contracts as social cooperation. This approach allows for an assessment of fairness that acknowledges the long‐term character of mortgage contracts and the ensuing need to distribute market risks between both contracting parties.

Suggested Citation

Domurath, Irina, Mortgage Debt and the Social Function of Contract (November 2016). European Law Journal, Vol. 22, Issue 6, pp. 758-771, 2016, Available at SSRN: or

Irina Domurath (Contact Author)

Central University of Chile ( email )

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