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Cour de Cassation — Contract Law — Content, rights and duties

Date Citation Note
14.04.2006 pourvoi no. 02-11.168 Assemblee pleniere  
21.02.2006 pourvoi no. 04-20.139 Commercial Chamber  
06.12.2005 Bull.civ. 2005.I. no. 462, p. 390 First Civil Chamber, (pourvoi no. 03-13.116)

Subsequent developments
Arbitrators (who are bound in this respect by an obligation of strict liability (obligation de r¿¿sultat)) in allowing the period for arbitration to expire without asking for its suspension by the supporting judge, have, in default of agreement by the parties or of any fault by them in seeking such suspension, committed a fault which involves the annulment of the award and incurred liability.
28.06.2005 Bull.civ. 2005.IV.no. 140, p. 150 Commercial Chamber, (pourvoi no. 03-16.794)  
22.04.2005 Bull. 2005.Ch.mixte, no. 3 p. 9 Chambre Mixte, (pourvoi no. 02-18.326)

Subsequent developments
In matters of transportation, serious (lourd) fault, of such a nature as to displace the limitation of indemnification provided for by decree (for which there is no specific contract type) could not result from the mere fact that a carrier cannot provide an explanation for the cause of delay.

In the absence of a specific contract type, it is only in the case of serious fault that a clause limiting the amount of reparation is deemed not to be included in the case of a breach by the carrier of an essential obligation of the contract.

Serious fault cannot result from mere delay in delivery, and is constituted by negligence of extreme seriousness, bordering on dol, and indicating the debtor was incapable of carrying out the obligation for the fulfilment of his commission.
09.07.2002 Bull. civ. IV, no. 121 Case Société Chronopost v. Société Banchereau

Subsequent developments
Where a clause limiting a transport company's liability was held ineffective, the extent of the company's liability must be determined by reference to rules applied in the law of transports. Under these rules, the transport company incurs limited liability, provided the breach is neither gross nor deliberate.
29.06.1999 D. 1999, 559 Case M. F. v. Dr. Fr.

Subsequent developments
The person in control of the place where medical treatment is provided is strictly liable if the patient contracts an infection during the treatment, unless the defendant can establish that it was due to an external cause.
03.02.1998 D.1998, 455 95-18.602 Case Brincat v. Sociiti Val Agriet

Subsequent developments
 
10.11.1995 Bull. civ. I, no. 347 Case Consorts Capdemourlin v. Société civile d'enseignement UBI

Subsequent developments
A clause in a contract providing in advance for payment of a sum of money by the party in breach constitutes a penalty clause, subject to revision under article 1152, 2 Civil Code, if the sum is disproportionately high or disproportionately low.
20.06.1995 Bull. Civ. I no. 277, p. 192 (93-15.948) Case S.M.M.I.G. v. Beaufils

Subsequent developments
 
03.11.1992 J.C.P. 1993, III, 22614 Case Société française des pétroles BP v. Huard

Subsequent developments
An oil company which had appointed an independent distributor under a solus agreement was under a duty to deal with him in good faith and arrange to provide him with petrol at a price such that he could compete with garages run by the company’s own agents.
09.10.1991 Bull. Civ. 1991 I no. 259 p. 171 Case Evrard v. Dimatal

Subsequent developments
The manufacturer of a defectively designed machine remains liable to an injured claimant at fault in using it unless the fault was the sole cause of the injury.
14.05.1991 D. 1991, 449 Case Lothioir, Minit Foto v. Baucheron

Subsequent developments
A contractor whose breach is neither deliberate nor grossly negligent may rely on a clause exempting him from liability.
15.11.1988 Bull. civ. I, no. 319 Case Nadjar v. Bordas

Subsequent developments
Whereas a dentist is not liable for unsuccessful treatment unless he was at fault, he is strictly liable if any prosthetic device he supplies proves defective.
25.06.1980 Bull. Civ. 1980 Com. no. 276 (78-13.532) Case Société Fa WH Tusveld v. SA Sodios, Le Corre

Subsequent developments
 
22.11.1978 JCP1979.19139 Case Société La Quinoliine v. Maclet

Subsequent developments
A seller who fails to warn that the product may cause damage in certain circumstances may be guilty of a faute lourde which debars him from relying on an exclusion clause.
10.12.1975 Bull. Civ. 1975 III no. 372 p. 282 (74-12.667) Case Comptoir Tuilier du Nord v. Société Nau Frhres SA

Subsequent developments
 
15.06.1959 D. 1960, 97 Case Société française de transports v. Société Cherenq et Société SICOMA A company which agrees to do work on the goods of a customer is presumptively liable for failing to return the goods and cannot rely on a clause exempting it from all liability for loss of the property if its imposition constitutes an abuse of its dominant economic position.
20.05.1936 D.P. 1936, 1, 88 Case Nicolas v. Mercier

Subsequent developments
The liability of a doctor for incompetent treatment of a patient is contractual, and consequently not subject to the limitation period appropriate to his possible criminal liability. [The criminal prescriptive period no longer applies to civil claims for damages even in delict: Law of 23 December 1970; see article 2270-1 Code civil).].
07.07.1924 S. 1925, I, 321 Case Société des usines Vermot etc. v. Chemins de fer de Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée

Subsequent developments
The final carrier of goods, sued for their loss in transit, could limit his liability to the valuation certified to the original carrier by the consignor.
09.11.1915 D.P. 1921, I, 23 Case Bauzin et Compagnie v. Lanctuit et Delamare

Subsequent developments
A clause exempting a depositee from liability for loss of the goods or damage to them has at least the effect of putting the burden of proof of fault on the depositor.
15.04.1872 D.P. 1872, I, 176 Case Foucauld et Coulombe v. Pringault

Subsequent developments
A party cannot claim a sum under a contract in which the defendant had made it clear that payment was to be at his entire discretion.
14.02.1866 D.P. 1866, I, 84 Case Paris frères v. Dame Juillard

Subsequent developments
A clause in a contract providing for payment of a sum of money by the party in breach cannot be avoided although the sum is disproportionately high. [This codal rule was altered by a Law of 1985: see now articles 1152, 1231 Code civil]
02.02.1808 S. 1808, I, 1573 Case Lubert v. Wancareghem

Subsequent developments
The Court of Cassation will not quash a judgment below simply because it disagrees with the lower court’s interpretation of the contract in question.