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'CULPA IN CONTRAHENDO' OR LIABILITY FOR CULPABLE CONDUCT IN PRE-CONTRACTUAL RELATIONS ('Culpa in contrahendo' alebo zodpovednost za zavinenie v predzmluvnych vztahoch)

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One of the primary functions of any legal order is to provide the subjects of legal relations with legal certainty. This article aims to show the degree of protection that is to be granted to parties who negotiate in good faith and suffer loss without the actual contract having been concluded. In alpine countries a separate legal institute of 'culpa in contrahendo' developed as a 'bridge' between the tortuous and contractual liability, which helped to fill many concrete gaps in their legal orders regarding the liability constituted 'ex delicto'. Based mostly on the protection of good faith, the courts afforded wider protection to the pre-contractual parties according to the rules on contractual liability. In the common law countries, the duty to negotiate in good faith is explicitly disregarded; however, in similar cases the loss-suffering party is also given a remedy. The arguments show that, in the Slovak legal environment, majority of the concrete cases of c.i.c. would underlie the regime of liability pursuant to § 415 in connection with § 420 of the Slovak Civil Code. A lot of duties of the pre-contractual parties of the c.i.c.-nature collide with other institutes of the Slovak private law (e.g. mistake or fraud). In this sense, we do not recognize a denominate institute of c.i.c., yet the remedies of these situations could be measurably justified. It is questionable, whether a formulation of uniform legal institutes is needed, when different legal systems using different means come to the same conclusions. Being a part of many European legal orders, European and international documents (e.g. UNIDROIT Principles of Commercial Contracts, PECL and, above all, the Common Frame of Reference and others), the institute of pre-contractual liability should be recognized by Slovak scholars, legal practitioners and supranational contractors, as well.
  • Jozef Stefanko, c/o Katedra obcianskeho a obchodneho prava, Pravnicka fakulta TU, Kollarova 10, Trnava, Slovak Republic,
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