Grotius’s Impact on the Scandinavian Theory of Contract Law

In: Grotiana
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  • 1 Professor Dr. jur., Phd Law Faculty / University of Bergen

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This article discusses to what extent the widely accepted hypotheses of Hugo Grotius’s crucial impact on the theory of contract law – also in Scandinavia – may be maintained or even positively confirmed. Although few direct references to the works of Grotius can be found in Scandinavian legal literature of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, it would be premature to draw a negative conclusion. An impact of Grotius’s thoughts may rather be demonstrated by thoroughly analysing patterns of argumentation concerning specific contractual topics both in legal literature and case law. The article provides the reader with necessary information on the institutional and intellectual preconditions for the reception of Grotius in the Scandinavian legal orders before discussing the impact of the ‘will-theory’ on the requirements of a legally binding contractual agreement in the works of selected influential legal scholars and in case law in more detail. The analysis confirms that Grotius’s work contributed substantially to shaping the intellectual framework in which the first contract law doctrines in Scandinavia evolved.