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Extra-Contractual Claims against State Entities under Civil Law

Paper number

Christopher R Seppälä

September 2023

A paper presented to the Society of Construction Law in London on 5th December 2023

The paper describes a striking difference between the common law and the civil law, which is the existence in French civil law of the right of the contractor to make claims against a state entity on grounds that have no counterpart in the common law. This will apply in the case of contracts with state entities, regardless of whether or not it is provided for in the contract. The paper sets out three legal doctrines that give rise to extra-contractual claims against state entities under an administrative contract: unforeseeable physical difficulties, hardship and act of the prince. The author suggests that common law lawyers practising internationally should be aware of these doctrines. 

I. Introduction – II. Civil law public law/private law distinction – III. Public or administrative law – IV. The administrative contract – V. Unforeseeable physical difficulties (sujétions imprévues) – VI. Hardship (imprévision) – VII. Act of the prince (fait du prince) – VIII. Conclusion 

The author: Christopher R. Seppälä is an independent arbitrator and a member (emeritus) of the Paris Bar and the New York Bar

Text: 11 pages