Price reduction: a remedy to adjust contracts.
At first sight, price reduction is not considered to be a general remedy for breach of contract or force majeure in Belgian law. Nevertheless, price reduction as a remedy is recognized in article 50 of the CISG, in Dutch law (partial termination), in the European initiatives of harmonization of private law (DCFR and PECL), and in a proposal for a regulation on a Common European Sales Law (CESL). First, we will discuss specific applications (in sales and tenancy contracts) of price reduction as a remedy for partial failure to fulfill obligations in situations of force majeure and of imputable shortcomings. A clear example of price reduction in Belgian law is the actio quanti minoris (Art. 1644 CC) in sales contracts. Another example is the custom in French and Belgian law to remedy small shortcomings (e.g. in quality or in quantity) in the performance with a réfaction (i.e. a price reduction in commercial sales contracts). In a second part, we have to search for the principle underlying the 'remedy of price reduction' (this might be partial termination, damages, the ENAC, good faith/equity, the prohibition of abuse of rights, ...). Thirdly, we check whether or not it is possible to induce from these concrete applications and principle(s) a typology or a general application of price reduction to adjust contracts. Lastly, it is important to critically assess the utility of price reduction as a remedy in light of general principles of civil law.