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Oskäliga avtalsvillkor med fokus på avtalets innehåll - i dag och i morgon

Svärd, Elon LU (2013) JURM02 20131
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Synen på att avtalsparterna själva har att bestämma över avtalets innehåll och att det är upp till dem själva att ta vara på sina egna intressen har under lång tid varit den rådande uppfattningen bland lagstiftarna i Sverige. Även om uppfattningen fortfarande kan anses vara rådande har avtalsfriheten beskurits – inte minst genom 36 § avtalslagen om jämkning och ogiltighet på grund av oskälighet. Däri stadgas att ett villkor kan jämkas eller lämnas utan avseende om villkoret är oskäligt med hänsyn till avtalets innehåll, omständigheterna vid avtalets tillkomst, senare inträffade förhållanden och omständigheterna i övrigt. I uppsatsen hamnar oskälighet med hänsyn till avtalets innehåll i fokus. Ett syfte med uppsatsen är således att redogöra... (More)
Synen på att avtalsparterna själva har att bestämma över avtalets innehåll och att det är upp till dem själva att ta vara på sina egna intressen har under lång tid varit den rådande uppfattningen bland lagstiftarna i Sverige. Även om uppfattningen fortfarande kan anses vara rådande har avtalsfriheten beskurits – inte minst genom 36 § avtalslagen om jämkning och ogiltighet på grund av oskälighet. Däri stadgas att ett villkor kan jämkas eller lämnas utan avseende om villkoret är oskäligt med hänsyn till avtalets innehåll, omständigheterna vid avtalets tillkomst, senare inträffade förhållanden och omständigheterna i övrigt. I uppsatsen hamnar oskälighet med hänsyn till avtalets innehåll i fokus. Ett syfte med uppsatsen är således att redogöra för svensk rätt på detta avgränsade område.

Avtalslagens portalparagraf står som den sista beskyddaren av den avtalsrättsligt förfördelade i Sverige, men vid horisonten kan en ny konkurrent skönjas – nämligen reglerna om oskäliga avtalsvillkor i den Europeiska kommissionens förslag till en förordning om en gemensam europeisk köplag (CESL). Om förslaget antas, kan det bli en lagstiftning vars regler ersätter de nationella motsvarigheterna om avtalsparterna avtalar om att regelsystemet ska gälla dem emellan. Därför kan det vara av intresse att redogöra för skillnaderna mellan CESL och 36 § avtalslagen och dess regler om oskäliga avtalsvillkor med hänsyn till avtalets innehåll. Ett annat syfte med uppsatsen är följaktligen att lyfta fram några för- respektive nackdelar av en implementering av CESL på området.

I uppsatsen presenteras 36 § avtalslagens bakgrund och bakomliggande principer. Härutöver redogörs för paragrafens tillämpningsområden, oskälighetsbedömningen och vilka rättsföljder som följer av ett oskäligt avtalsvillkor. I ett självständigt kapitel redovisas oskälighet på grund avtalets innehåll vari ensam bestämmanderättsklausuler, prisvillkor, friskrivningsklausuler och missbruk av rättighet ryms. Dessutom redovisas motsvarande avsnitt i CESL i begränsad omfattning.

En slutsats är att bedömningen av ett villkors skälighet är högst beroende av de omständigheter som råder i varje enskilt fall. Således går det inte att fastställa om ett villkor med hänsyn till avtalets innehåll är oskäligt per se. Med beaktande av en avtalsparts underlägsna ställning framträder emellertid vissa mönster. Bland annat kan hävdas att villkor som ger en ensam bestämmanderätt av något slag generellt är oskäliga. Likaså riskeras olika typer av friskrivningsklausuler att jämkas. Däremot är villkor om priset i det närmast oantastbara.

En annan slutsats är att det finns relativt stora skillnader mellan 36 § avtalslagen och motsvarande regler i CESL. Till skillnad mot generalklausulen är tillämpningsområdet för CESL:s regler om oskälighet begränsat till icke individuellt avtalade villkor i konsumentavtal respektive kommersiella avtal där en av parterna är ett litet eller medelstort företag. En annan slutsats är att det är olyckligt att CESL:s regler om oskälighet utesluter jämkning, då ogiltighet av ett villkor kan leda till fortsatt oskälighet för den förfördelade. CESL har sina fördelar, till exempel med sin lista på villkor som är oskäliga per se i avtal med konsumenter, men i jämförelse med 36 § avtalslagen ses verkningarna av förslaget som tämligen ovissa med tanke på dess opreciserade artiklar om oskälighet.

Slutligen bör det sägas att ytterligare forskning krävs vad gäller praxis vid en framtida implementering av CESL. (Less)
Abstract
Legislators in Sweden have long been of the opinion that it is the contracting parties themselves who may decide on the content of a contract and see to their own interests. Although this idea still may be considered to be the prevailing one, contractual freedom has in fact been curtailed, viz. by Article 36 of the Swedish Contract Act regarding amendment and nullity due to unfairness. This article states that a term may be amended or disregarded if the term in question is unfair in regard to the content of the contract, circumstances at the time of the contract's coming into being, conditions that occur after the contract has been agreed to as well as other circumstances. The focus of this paper is unfairness in regard to the content of a... (More)
Legislators in Sweden have long been of the opinion that it is the contracting parties themselves who may decide on the content of a contract and see to their own interests. Although this idea still may be considered to be the prevailing one, contractual freedom has in fact been curtailed, viz. by Article 36 of the Swedish Contract Act regarding amendment and nullity due to unfairness. This article states that a term may be amended or disregarded if the term in question is unfair in regard to the content of the contract, circumstances at the time of the contract's coming into being, conditions that occur after the contract has been agreed to as well as other circumstances. The focus of this paper is unfairness in regard to the content of a contract. One purpose of this paper is thus to account for Swedish legislation in this limited field.

The gateway article of the Swedish Contract Act is the ultimate protector of the contractual injured party in Sweden. However, a new competitor can be seen on the horizon - viz. the provisions on unfair contract terms of the European Commission's proposal for a Common European Sales Law (CESL). If adopted, it can be become a law whose provisions will replace the national counterparts providing the contracting parties agree to apply its regulatory system. Therefore, it may be of interest to account for some differences between the CESL and Article 36 of the Swedish Contract Act with special emphasis on unfair contract terms as regards the content of the contract. Another purpose of this paper is consequently to highlight some advantages and disadvantages respectively of the implementation of the CESL in this field.

This paper describes the background and underlying principles of Article 36 of the Swedish Contract Act. Moreover, an account is also given of the range of application of the article, the unfairness assessment and the legal consequences arising from an unfair term. In a separate chapter, the unfairness assessment with regard to the content of the contract is explained comprising clauses with a unilateral right of determination, price terms, exemption clauses and abuse of right. The corresponding sections of the CESL are also accounted for, however less detailed.

One conclusion is that the assessment of the unfairness of a term is dependent on the particular circumstances in each individual case. Consequently, it is thus not possible to determine whether a term is unfair per se in regard to the content of the contract. Nevertheless, in view of the inferior power position of a party some patterns may be seen. Inter alia, it may be argued that terms comprising a unilateral right of determination of any kind are generally to be considered unfair. Different kinds of exemption clauses are also likely to be amended. On the other hand, terms regarding prices are chiefly to be regarded as irrefutable.
An additional conclusion is that there are relatively large differences between Article 36 of the Swedish Contract Law and the corresponding rules of the CESL. Unlike the general clause, the scope of the rules on unfairness terms in the CESL are limited to non individually negotiated terms in consumer contracts and business contracts in which one of the parties is either a small or medium sized business. Another conclusion is that it is unfortunate that the CESL rules on unfairness exclude amendments in that an invalidity of a term may lead to a continued state of unfairness for the aggrieved party. CESL has its advantages, e.g. with its list of the terms which are unfair per se in consumer contracts. However, compared with Article 36 of the Swedish Contract Act, the effects of the proposal are rather uncertain in view of its imprecise articles on unfairness terms.

Finally, it should be pointed out that further research is required with a possible implementation of the CESL and its application in case law. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Svärd, Elon LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Unfair Terms with Special Emphasis on the Content of the Contract - Today and Tomorrow
course
JURM02 20131
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
36 § avtalslagen, Avtalsrätt, CESL, Förmögenhetsrätt, Komparativ rätt, Oskäliga avtalsvillkor
language
Swedish
id
3563672
date added to LUP
2013-03-25 07:21:19
date last changed
2013-03-25 07:21:19
@misc{3563672,
  abstract     = {Legislators in Sweden have long been of the opinion that it is the contracting parties themselves who may decide on the content of a contract and see to their own interests. Although this idea still may be considered to be the prevailing one, contractual freedom has in fact been curtailed, viz. by Article 36 of the Swedish Contract Act regarding amendment and nullity due to unfairness. This article states that a term may be amended or disregarded if the term in question is unfair in regard to the content of the contract, circumstances at the time of the contract's coming into being, conditions that occur after the contract has been agreed to as well as other circumstances. The focus of this paper is unfairness in regard to the content of a contract. One purpose of this paper is thus to account for Swedish legislation in this limited field.
 
The gateway article of the Swedish Contract Act is the ultimate protector of the contractual injured party in Sweden. However, a new competitor can be seen on the horizon - viz. the provisions on unfair contract terms of the European Commission's proposal for a Common European Sales Law (CESL). If adopted, it can be become a law whose provisions will replace the national counterparts providing the contracting parties agree to apply its regulatory system. Therefore, it may be of interest to account for some differences between the CESL and Article 36 of the Swedish Contract Act with special emphasis on unfair contract terms as regards the content of the contract. Another purpose of this paper is consequently to highlight some advantages and disadvantages respectively of the implementation of the CESL in this field.

This paper describes the background and underlying principles of Article 36 of the Swedish Contract Act. Moreover, an account is also given of the range of application of the article, the unfairness assessment and the legal consequences arising from an unfair term. In a separate chapter, the unfairness assessment with regard to the content of the contract is explained comprising clauses with a unilateral right of determination, price terms, exemption clauses and abuse of right. The corresponding sections of the CESL are also accounted for, however less detailed.

One conclusion is that the assessment of the unfairness of a term is dependent on the particular circumstances in each individual case. Consequently, it is thus not possible to determine whether a term is unfair per se in regard to the content of the contract. Nevertheless, in view of the inferior power position of a party some patterns may be seen. Inter alia, it may be argued that terms comprising a unilateral right of determination of any kind are generally to be considered unfair. Different kinds of exemption clauses are also likely to be amended. On the other hand, terms regarding prices are chiefly to be regarded as irrefutable. 
An additional conclusion is that there are relatively large differences between Article 36 of the Swedish Contract Law and the corresponding rules of the CESL. Unlike the general clause, the scope of the rules on unfairness terms in the CESL are limited to non individually negotiated terms in consumer contracts and business contracts in which one of the parties is either a small or medium sized business. Another conclusion is that it is unfortunate that the CESL rules on unfairness exclude amendments in that an invalidity of a term may lead to a continued state of unfairness for the aggrieved party. CESL has its advantages, e.g. with its list of the terms which are unfair per se in consumer contracts. However, compared with Article 36 of the Swedish Contract Act, the effects of the proposal are rather uncertain in view of its imprecise articles on unfairness terms. 

Finally, it should be pointed out that further research is required with a possible implementation of the CESL and its application in case law.},
  author       = {Svärd, Elon},
  keyword      = {36 § avtalslagen,Avtalsrätt,CESL,Förmögenhetsrätt,Komparativ rätt,Oskäliga avtalsvillkor},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Oskäliga avtalsvillkor med fokus på avtalets innehåll - i dag och i morgon},
  year         = {2013},
}