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Legal Update

The 2016 Amendment to the Napoleonic Civil Code: A French Revolution for Construction Contracts

5 December 2016
Mayer Brown Legal Update

Contracts under French law entered into after 1st October 2016 will be subject to a new legal regime, after the Ordinance of 10 February 2016 made significant changes for the first time in more than two hundred years to the Articles on Contracts and Obligations of the ancient 1804 Napoleonic Civil Code.

These new Articles are more than a mere facelift. They codify certain rules established by case law over the last two centuries, which aims at making the law of contracts and obligations more accessible, transparent, and foreseeable.

However, the new Articles also introduce significant innovations, some of which may have a major impact on construction and other contracts. Parties submitting their contracts to French law should be aware of these changes in order to avoid unwanted surprises. This Report describes briefly some of the main innovations, refers to some of the risks involved and suggests ways to avoid, or at least attempt to minimize, the impact of the new rules.


  • Alejandro López Ortiz
    T +33 1 53 53 18 62
  • David Bakouche
    Professor of Law, Lawyer
    T +33 1 53 53 03 40
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