Dr. Lauri Railas: Changing Circumstances and Contracts – Fairness in Action?

Dr. Lauri Railas, University of Helsinki & Railas Attorneys Ltd.

Changing Circumstances and Contracts – Fairness in Action?

Contracts may be affected by events beyond the control of the parties which is again evident in times of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whereas the performance of individual obligations may be impeded by force majeure events, the change of circumstances may affect the contractual equilibrium not only making performance of an obligation but the whole contractual relationship extremely onerous for a party. This is called hardship. The impact of changed circumstances on contracts has fascinated and employed lawyers for a century, and different approaches and theories have emerged. The fundamental justification for interference in contracts is good faith meaning the duty of the parties to observe the standards of fairness in their actions. But is it possible to define what is fair?

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Dr. Lauri Railas

Lauri Railas is an Adjunct Professor (Docent) of Civil Law at the University of Helsinki. He is also a regular lecturer in commercial law and practice courses domestically and internationally, and is a long-time visiting Lecturer at University of Turku.

Railas studied law in Helsinki, Oslo and London (LSE) and published his dissertation in the field of digitization of international trade law in 2004. He has previously worked in the field of marine insurance, as the Secretary General of International Chamber of Commerce (Finland) and as a Principal Administrator  in the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. Today, he works principally as an attorney in his own law firm and also acts as the statutory Average Adjuster in Finland

Railas has contributed to the drafting of a number of standard contract forms, model clauses and rules including Incoterms 2010 and 2020, the ICC Model Anti-Corruption  Clause 2012, The Nordic Freight Forwarding Conditions NSAB 2015 as well as the very recently published ICC Model Force Majeure and Hardship Clauses 2020.

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