Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Christian Twigg-Flesner
Chapter 23: European contract law and social justice
More than ten years ago, in 2004, the Manifesto on Social Justice was published. In the Manifesto, the European Commission's plans for the future of European contract law were criticised. The European Commission presented the development of contract law as a technical, value-free exercise in the Communication on European contract law and the Action Plan. The authors of the Manifesto counter-argued that private law and contract law, in particular, reflect a market and a social order, which calls for choices which are not value-free. In its Action Plan the European Commission proposed, inter alia, a Common Frame of Reference (CFR) and a non-sector-specific instrument as regulatory tools in the area of contract law. At the time no one really knew what was meant by a CFR or a non-sector-specific-instrument. We now know that a non-sector-specific-instrument implied a regulation on a Common European Sales Law (CESL). In October 2011, the European Commission presented a draft regulation on CESL which the European Parliament endorsed. However, the Juncker Commission withdrew the proposal for a regulation on CESL. Instead it promised an amended proposal before the end of 2015 in its Digital Agenda.The Manifesto's point of departure is that contract law reflects the market order in which it operates and consequently, contract law reflects the extent to which social justice plays a role in that market order. The Manifesto identifies four topics, which concern the relation between social justice and contract law.
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