Rethinking the relationship between the enforceability of penalty clauses and the debtor's fault in breach of his/her obligation under Swiss law

Date
2021-04-01
Advisor
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Source Title
The Lawyer Quarterly
Print ISSN
1805-8396
Electronic ISSN
1805-840X
Publisher
Akademie Ved Ceske Republiky * Ustav Statu a Prava
Volume
11
Issue
2
Pages
271 - 288
Language
English
Type
Article
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Abstract

Despite the lack of an explicit provision within the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR), the considerable majority of the Swiss doctrine as well as the Federal Court accept that contractual penalty shall be paid if and only if the debtor’s breach is based on his/her fault. In this paper, we question such dogma and analyze the wording and purposes of Articles 161/2 and 163/2 of the Swiss Code of Obligations by taking their historical background into account. We argue that unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the debtor’s obligation to pay the penalty shall be deemed independent of his/her fault.

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Keywords
Penalty clause, Fault, Liquidated damages, Impossibility, Accessoriness
Citation
Published Version (Please cite this version)