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New Developments in the Impending Reform of French Contract Law

Author: Peter ROSHER

Type: Article

ref: 62015481-506

N0:6 of 2015

Pages: 481-506

The French government published in February 2015 by way of ordinance its reform proposals for French contract law. After a phase of public consultation followed by a transition through the Conseil d'Etat (the French Supreme Court for public law and administrative matters), this ordinance should receive final ratification by the parliament within the beginning of 2016. If it has received so much attention, it is no doubt because of its scale. This reform is the most extensive since the enactment of the French civil code in 1804. And it is not without its critics. Some believe that it introduces undesirable mechanisms of judicial control, dangerous for the stability of business relations, as well as the attractiveness of French law for foreign persons and entities. The French Association of In-House Lawyers (AFJE) has, amongst others, published a note on this subject, proposing a certain number of amendments. The most virulent criticism concerns the uncertainties presumably introduced in business relations. Promoted as a reform protecting weaker contracting parties, many fear that it may establish a significant imbalance between the parties. Its spirit is, however, to adapt the French civil code to the modern evolutions of French contract law, mostly by codifying pre-existing principles which have emerged in French case law.