Christine Chappuis is a Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, where she teaches contract and tort law. Her research focuses on those fields as well as on international contracts and international harmonization of contract law. She is currently working with a group of colleagues on a restatement of the Swiss law of obligations funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Ms. Chappuis takes part in the Working Group for the preparation of the third edition of the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts and is a member of the Groupe de Travail Contrats Internationaux, an international group of corporate lawyers, professors and members of the bar working on the basis of clauses taken from the members’ professional experience. Admitted to the Bar, she was active as counsel to Geneva law firms before joining the University in 1999. Former president of the Geneva Law Society, she was also president of the General Assembly of Professors of the University of Geneva, of the Private Law Section of the Law Faculty and is currently President of the Foundation for the Faculty of Theology. She is author and editor of several important books and papers focusing on international harmonization of contract law and contract practice. She obtained her PhD grade in 1989 and was awarded the Walther Hug prize among other honours.
Performance is the natural remedy for breach of contract in civil law systems.1 In common law systems, specific performance is an exceptional remedy and will only be granted if damages are inadequate. Such is the general understanding of one of the great rifts between the two systems. The clash seen as “civil law morality” versus “common law economic efficiency” bears a slight emotional undertone summarized by Holmes’s words, “The duty to keep a contract at common law means a prediction that you must pay damages if you do not keep it — and nothing else.”