The Concept Of Unfair Contract Terms

  • I.M. Harhat
Keywords: unfair conditions, significant imbalance of the parties, significant disadvantage, fair dealing.


The article explores the concept of «unfair terms contract terms» through the analysis of its origin and fixing in the legislation and legal literature of the European Union, Ukraine and the United States. Comparisons of interpretations of this concept according to Directive 93/13/EEC, Model Rules of European Private Law, The Uniform Commercial Code, as well as the Law of Ukraine «On Consumer Protection».

In the article author notes that the definition of unfair terms of the contract is a complex symbiosis of material and procedural, a combination of justice and dishonesty, comparison of signs of «imbalance of interests» and «significantly disadvantaged» and therefore at this stage of civil law is not can be defined unambiguously.

It is investigated that the modern civil legislation of Ukraine is still in solidarity with the legislation of most EU member states in terms of introducing this concept primarily to protect consumer rights.

Regarding the definition of «unfair terms», author notes that Ukrainian legislation follows common legal trends and recognizes unfair terms when they violate the principle of good faith and fairness, as well as when they lead to a significant imbalance of contractual rights and obligations of the parties and harm the consumer.

As a result, it was found that in general the concept of «unfair terms» is evaluative and can not by its very nature reflect the motives laid down in the contract by one or another party. The Court of EU and the courts of the EU member states do not give general conclusions on a case-by-case basis, using the definitions contained in the text of Directive 93/13/EEC, which set out the conditions that may be considered unfair.

Author proposes to use the sign «significantly unfavorable position» proposed by A.A.Leff to define the concept of «unfair terms of the contract», as it will improve the protection of the interests of the economically weaker party in the contract.