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General principles of contract law

16 April, 2015 - 10:03


Welcome to LAW B844W Chinese Contract Law. It is a compulsory five-credit course in the Master of Laws in Chinese Business Law (LLM (Chinese Business Law)) programme. It gives you a thorough overview of the principles and practices of Chinese contract law, as well as its implications in business law.

In this course, we will discuss the basic structure of Chinese contract law, including the legislation known as the Contract Law of the People’s Republic of China, and other related laws and regulations. Throughout the course, when we refer to ‘the Contract Law’ with an upper case ‘C’ and ‘L’ we mean the Contract Law of the People’s Republic of China. The ‘contract law’ in small letters refers to the law relating to contracts in China generally. Through this course, you will gain a good grasp of the key concepts and principles of contract law from the perspective of business practice. Upon completion of this course, you should have developed the necessary analytical skills for resolving contract law issues in real life cases.

The hallmark of contract law in capitalist economies is the concept of freedom of contract. In this course, we will examine the interplay between this concept and the socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics.

In this first unit, we will examine the key concepts of the Chinese contract law together with some background information, including the characteristics of the system and its historical development and application. We will look at the legal concept of a contract and various approaches for defining a contract under law. We will also take a brief look at the scope of application of contract law in China.

There are a number of fundamental doctrines underlying Chinese contract law. These include principles such as equality, freedom of contract and good faith, and we will examine these in detail later in the unit. Following that, we will look at various ways of categorizing contracts, and the principles of interpretation of contractual terms.

Finally, we will discuss the two main policy considerations underlying the contract law. These are the policy to encourage transactions, and privity of contract.

In short, this unit:

  • describes the historical development of Chinese contract law;
  • analyses the general principle of contract law;
  • illustrates the relationship between contract law and other related branches of law;
  • assesses the scope of contract law;
  • categorizes different forms of contract; and
  • describes how to implement the principles of interpretation of terms of a contract.