Chapter 7: European private law
It seems a big jump from the subject matter of the previous three chapters to the dauntingly grand topic of European private law. But the debate has moved inexorably in this direction. In the early years of the EU’s intervention into private law one could readily treat Directives on topics such as doorstep selling and timeshare as oddities which contributed to the creation of a special set of rules governing the formation of particular consumer contracts but which had little impact on the general structure of national law. But measures such as Directive 93/13 on unfair terms in consumer contracts and Directive 99/44 on consumer sales and guarantees are much more ambitious. They challenge the very notion of contractual autonomy. And although the majority of the relevant EU harmonisation measures concern consumer law, there is also a group of Directives touching commercial contract law. Measures such as that combating late payments in commercial transactions, first covered by Directive 2000/35 and now by Directive 2011/7, and Directive 86/653 on commercial agents fall outside the scope of this book, but they add to the dimensions of an EU private law shaped through the harmonisation programme.
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