You are on page 1of 1

Abstract

The distinction between obligations de résultat and obligations de moyens was proposed at the
beginning of the last century by Demogue, a famous French scholar. According to the
distinction, while an obligation de résultat is directed at guaranteeing the attainment of a specific
result, an obligation de moyens consists of the employment of the duty of care in performing a
contractual obligation. Such distinction gained some success and was transplanted in many
jurisdictions.

This contribution considers the distinction between obligations de résultat and obligations de
moyens as a juridical epiphany of those conceptions of contract law founding the enforceability
of promises on the mere will of the parties. In this contribution two questions are posed: the first
concerns the conditions under which responsibility for breach of contract is triggered and the
second deals with the extent to which the promisor shall be bound to the given promise. By
providing an answer to these questions, this contribution reveals that the distinction between
obligations de résultat and obligations de moyens is logically based upon a questionable method
of abstraction rooted in the evolution of the law towards the abandoning of the traditional ideas
and concepts having characterized contract law for centuries. The historical process of
abandonment of the criteria of enforceability of promises, with particular regard to the
subjectivization of causa, has provided the conceptual grounds for the coming into existence of
the distinction between obligations de résultat and obligations de moyens. The distinction
between obligations de résultat and obligations de moyens is based upon the reduction of causa
to any subjective reason or motive for contracting. Precisely, the distinction between obligations
de résultat and obligations de moyens holds and presupposes causa as the promisor?s subjective
motive to which the obligation tends and which shall be realized by the promise.

This process is however flawed since causa in its objective meaning represents something
unavoidable for the enforcement of promises. The existence of causa (intended as the contractual
exchange) represents a juridical necessity in contracts. Although shaped into different forms, the
objective contractual exchange represents the same entity for every obligation; thus, in every
obligation the requirement of an objective causa must exist to make it enforceable.

As the necessity of the existence of an objective causa is ascertained, the validity of the
distinction between obligations de résultat and obligations de moyens is strongly challenged.

Copyright © 2005 Kluwer Law International


All rights reserved

ISSN: 0928-9801
ID: ERPL2005041