The Europeanization of contract law has continuously developed over the past 25 years. It is now at a defining stage, with the Draft Common Frame of Reference (DCFR) recently being published. This article is not primarily concerned with the substance of this instrument, but with the process of legal innovation it might trigger. The hypothesis is that the adoption of such a rulebook will have a significant impact on the future development of European contract law. Yet the nature and likely effects of such impact are difficult to predict, given that functions, elements and purposes of the new instrument still need to be identified and defined. In any event, the DCFR will modify the pattern of future legal change in European contract law. The crucial question is: Will it provide a dynamic framework for legal innovation?
Article 12 of the Rome II Regulation governs the non-contractual obligations arising out of dealings prior to the conclusion of a contract and establishes that the law applicable to these obligations shall be the law that applies to the contract. Where it is not possible to determine such law, the second paragraph of article 12 specifies the general connecting factors of Rome II Regulation. Moreover, it is possible to choose the law applicable in culpa in contrahendo issues. These solutions are nonetheless not problem-free. It seems not quite appropriate that the law applicable to a future contract may govern the specific obligation not to breach negotiations from a given point in time and that parties cannot rely on the law of the country in which any of them have their habitual residence in order to uphold the possibility of breaching negotiations without being held liable. It is neither appropriate that the law applicable to a future contract might govern the liability arising from negotiations which take place in the setting of a concluded agreement.
The recent publication of the draft Common Frame of Reference invites analysis of some of the distinguishing features of the European service contracts designed by the Study Group on European Civil Code. It contains important innovations in comparison with the traditional approach supported by Spanish scholarship and the case law of the Supreme Court. This work aims to expose some of the solutions introduced by the new European contract law, and to contribute to the debate on a necessary modernization of the Spanish civil regulation of the service contracts