(2009) Oxford U Comparative L Forum 5 at ouclf.law.ox.ac.uk | How to cite this article
One of the remarkable differences in contract law between legal systems in the European Union and China is the definition and status of contractual freedom. Historically, contractual freedom has not been commonly recognized in China, and social ethics had played a greater role in its civil law. In contrast, in European legal systems, freedom have been accepted as a core element in private law, with social elements having been commonly ignored, particularly during the time of 18th and 19th century. However, in modern times, China has started to accept the concept of freedom in its civil law, and the consideration of social elements has been diminished gradually since the late 1990s. On the contrary, in Europe, mainly due to the correction of market failures, social elements have increasingly been considered in order to maintain the substantive justice of contract, and contractual freedom as unfettered ideology has diminished since the late 19th century. It could be thus reasonable to say the modern social values between the east and west have been converging progressively.