Table of Contents

Research Handbook on EU Consumer and Contract Law

Research Handbook on EU Consumer and Contract Law

Research Handbooks in European Law series

Edited by Christian Twigg-Flesner

Research Handbook on EU Consumer and Contract Law takes stock of the evolution of this fascinating area of private law to date and identifies key themes for future development of the law and research agendas. The Handbook is divided into three parts: first, authors examine a range of cross-cutting issues relevant to both consumer and contract law. The second part discusses specific topics on EU Consumer Law, and the final part focuses on a number of important subjects which remain current for the development of EU Contract Law.

Chapter 22: Contract theory and EU contract law

Martijn W Hesselink

Subjects: law - academic, consumer law, european law, law of obligations


This chapter explores the relationship between contract theory and European contract law. In particular, it addresses the question: what, if anything, can EU contract law learn from contract law theory and vice versa? Not much, one might conclude from examining a recent collection of essays on the philosophical foundations of contract law. Of the 18 contributions to that volume, which was edited and published in Europe, only one article refers to EU contract law, and it was written by an American scholar. Does this mean that, unlike national contract law, the contract law of the EU does not have any philosophical foundations? Or, conversely, do contract theorists have a blind spot for EU contract law? Or, is the implication that, from a philosophical perspective, the existing EU contract law should be rejected? Obviously, such very general conclusions cannot be drawn from the (generally excellent) contributions to one single book. However, this particular volume is not the only example in contract law theory that almost totally ignores EU contract law or in any case seems to fit rather uneasily with it. Especially, essentialist and other monist normative theories of contract law do not match well with EU contract law. This contribution therefore more specifically addresses the mismatch between much of the existing contract theory, on the one hand, and EU contract law on the other.

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