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This book is a unique and extensive comparative study of commercial contract interpretation across 14 selected jurisdictions, namely Croatia, England and Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. Using a dynamic comparative case method, the focus is centered on the discussion of key legal problems, further examined in a detailed and comprehensive comparative analysis. In this way, the book makes important advancements in the general understanding of contract interpretation in European private law in three respects. First, it enriches the conventional conceptual framework for the methods of contract interpretation by distinguishing between interpretation aims and means. Second, it challenges the presumptive division of common law and civil law jurisdictions, for example, the assumption that civil systems follow a subjective approach and common law systems an objective approach to interpretation of contract. Third, the book provides a more subtle analysis of the role of standards of ‘good faith’ in contract interpretation.
A common core of contract interpretation in European private law that is inferred from the national reports is that every legal system strives to reach a compromise between staying true to the intentions of the parties, assessing what a reasonable person would understand from the contract drafting, and preventing outcomes that are unfair or unjust. Each court draws on the material available to it in order to reach this compromise. Conversely, the differences between the jurisdictions pertain to what constitutes a common intention between the contracting parties and reasonableness, and what the appropriate methods are by which these could best be ascertained. Here, the jurisdictions reveal a variety of conceptual, doctrinal and pragmatic similarities and distinctions.
Interpretation of Commercial Contracts in European Private Law presents valuable insights and thoughtful analysis that will be highly relevant to academics, practitioners and students of European private law and contract law.