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Cour de Cassation — Contract Law — Termination

Date Citation Note
20.02.2001 D. 2001, 1568 Case Fanara v Société Europe expertise

Subsequent developments
Serious misconduct from one party may justify unilateral termination of the contract by the other party, even where the contract is a fixed-term contract.
10.02.1998 Bull. civ. I, no. 53 Case SA Saint-Louis Union Académie v. Mme Bonjour

Subsequent developments
A person who was prevented by unforeseeable and unavoidable illness from attending courses organized by a school may be released by force majeure even though the illness does not constitute an external event
31.01.1995 Bull. civ. I, no. 57 Case Epoux Bourdon v. Banque hypothécaire europenne

Subsequent developments
A party may only rely on a clause providing for the retroactive termination of a contract in case of non performance if he is acting in good faith.
28.11.1934 S. 1935, I, 105 Case Marty v. Barral et Villeneuve

Subsequent developments
Where unexpectedly dire weather conditions prevented the purchaser from collecting the goods within the stipulated period the seller was not entitled to have the contract judicially terminated unless timely collection was an essential condition in the contract of sale.
17.11.1925 G.P. 1926, I, 68 Case Delphin et Société des Docks de Plombières v. Lugagne

Subsequent developments
A party is not released by force majeure unless it renders performance wholly impossible, so a building contractor was not entitled to terminate a fixed-price contract and charge extra simply because unexpected changes in economic conditions had made performance much more onerous and wholly unprofitable.
07.01.1910 D. 1910. II, 292 Case Porel v. Bataille

Subsequent developments
A playwright who was prevented by unforeseeable illness from submitting his manuscript by the contractual deadline was not liable for the stipulated penalty for delay.
14.04.1891 D.P. 1891, I, 329 Case Ceccaldi.v. Albertini

Subsequent developments
Although the lower courts are free to decide whether to terminate a contract or only award damages, depending on their interpretation of the contractual obligations and their appraisal of the seriousness of the breach, their decision must not be based on the erroneous view of the law that termination is not allowed if non-performance is due to force majeure or is less than total.
06.03.1876 D. 1876, I, 193 Case De Gallifet v. Commune de Pélissanne known as the Canal de Craponne case

Subsequent developments
In 1567 the claimant’s predecessor constructed a canal and promised the local inhabitants that he would maintain it in perpetuity if a fixed sum were paid for each agricultural use of the water. More than 300 years later the claimant sought an increase in that sum which over in the intervening centuries had become risibly small and inadequate. The Court of Appeal granted an increase, but the Court of Cassation quashed the decision: “it is no part of the function of the courts, however equitable it may seem, to modify the parties’ agreements in the light of changing circumstances or to substitute new terms in place of those freely accepted by the parties.”