- Contract law as fairness: a Rawlsian perspective on the position of SMEs in European contract law
- Award date
- 26 June 2014
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL)
European Contract Law is still very much in development. So far, only piecemeal legislation on contract law has been enacted on a European level. Accordingly, many of the questions concerning which rules to decide on are still up for debate. One such debate concerns weaker party protection and more specifically the position of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Here many normative questions are still left unresolved. This means that a normative framework is called for to make coherent choices in deciding on rules of contract law in Europe.
The dissertation examines whether Rawls’ theory of distributive justice can provide such a framework and what the implications of adopting a Rawlsian framework entail for the positive rules on SMEs in European contract law. It defends a normative conception of contract law inspired by Rawls’ principles of justice called: ‘contract law as fairness’. It goes on to argue that weaker party protection is an important element of this contract law as fairness and furthermore that there are no legitimate grounds for distinguishing between consumers and SMEs with regard to who should count as a weaker party. Hence, the dissertation argues that the implication of applying a Rawlsian framework to European contract law for the position of SMEs is that they deserve the same protection as consumers.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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