EU to consider Europe-wide contract law to resolve cross-border disputes

Legal professionals across the European Union (EU) are to be asked whether or not they support the idea of creating a parallel body of European contract law that would exist alongside national legislation

The idea is to create a set of legal principles that are recognised across the EU as a tool by which cross-border disputes could be resolved, but which unlike standard European legislation would not supersede national rules.

The European Commission is looking for views from lawyers, businesses, consumer organisations, nat-ional governments and other EU institutions on “the desirability and the feasibility” of creating such an optional body of European law. This would have a “wide application rather than (being) a sector-specific instrument”, said a commission note.

The proposal is part of a new EU action plan on creating a European body of contract law.

Another element of the plan should lead to the creation of agreed common terms and in-terpretation of legal principles that apply across the EU.

Brussels is to tap the reserves of the new e16.5bn (£11.1bn) Sixth Framework Programme for research to fund studies that will include commercial lawyers developing a “common frame of reference” containing definitions of concepts, such as “contract” or “damage”.

The commission said it would use these terms when reviewing “existing EU law or making legislative proposals”.

The commission added that it would also promote these concepts across the EU.

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