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L'analyse économique du droit comme outil de la doctrine juridique : La bonne foi et la justice contractuelle


  • Ejan Mackaay


This paper uses Law & Economics as a tool of legal scholarship to analyse the concepts of good faith and contractual justice. Good faith is analysed as the exact opposite of opportunism. On opportunism there is a reasonably well-developed economic literature. Opportunism is present where, in a two or multi-party relationship, one of the participants schemes, by resorting to stealth or to force, to change in his or her favour the division of joint gains flowing from the relationship that each participant could normally look forward to when the relationship was set up. The win-win character that contracts and other relationships must have to be viable is thereby thrown out of kilter. The risk of becoming the victim of opportunism, of "being had"", by such schemes leads economic actors to take precautions that are costly and reduce the size of markets. Law may render useful services by combating opportunism in all its many forms, where this can be done cost-effectively and at lower cost than participants themselves could attain. In part, this defence is assured through a host of specific concepts found throughout the Civil Code. But cases may arise where none of these specific concepts can comfortably be applied. For such cases, an open-ended concept of last resort is needed. Good faith is such a concept. To ensure the certainty of the law, good faith, the anti-opportunism tool of last resort but with fuzzy boundaries, must be used only where no specific concept will do. Its use implies that over time new more specific concepts will crystallise as decisions accumulate. These new specific concepts should then go on lead an autonomous existence in the Code. Good faith, as the absence of opportunism, remains the principle underlying all of contract law and company law." Ce texte explore l'emploi de l'analyse économique du droit comme outil de doctrine pour analyser les concepts de bonne foi et de justice contractuelle. La bonne foi est présentée comme l'exact contraire de l'opportunisme, concept assez déblayé dans la littérature économique. L'opportunisme se présente lorsque, dans un rapport de coopération entre deux ou plusieurs personnes, l'une d'elles s'affaire à modifier, par la ruse ou par la force, à son avantage et au détriment des autres, la répartition des gains conjoints résultant de ce rapport que chaque partie pouvait normalement envisager au moment de la création du rapport. Il perturbe le caractère gagnant-gagnant que doit avoir le contrat ou autre rapport de coopération et qui reflète la justice contractuelle. Le risque d'être victime d'opportunisme, de « se faire avoir », amène les acteurs économiques à prendre des précautions qui sont coûteuses et qui réduisent l'étendue des marchés. Le droit se rend utile en combattant l'opportunisme dans toutes ses multiples formes. En partie, cette défense prend la forme d'un éventail de concepts spécifiques à travers les codes. Pour maintenir la certitude du droit, la bonne foi, concept anti-opportunisme de dernier ressort, mais aux contours flous, est employé seulement là où aucun concept spécifique ne peut faire l'affaire. Son utilisation devrait conduire à terme à de nouveaux concepts spécifiques qui vont mener une existence autonome dans le code. La bonne foi, comme absence d'opportunisme, demeure le principe résiduel sous-tendant l'ensemble du droit des contrats et des sociétés commerciales.

Suggested Citation

  • Ejan Mackaay, 2011. "L'analyse économique du droit comme outil de la doctrine juridique : La bonne foi et la justice contractuelle," CIRANO Working Papers 2011s-73, CIRANO.
  • Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2011s-73

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    civil law; good faith; contract; opportunism; law & economics; droit civil; contrat; bonne foi; opportunisme; analyse économique du droit.;

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