English law was developed as “common law” system derived mainly from the law imposed by the King in medieval times which was “common” to the whole land and was short on statute law and heavily reliant on case law: the decision of judges. In contrast, “civil law” systems in Europe are founded on interpretations of the codification of Roman law given by the Emperor Justinian (AD 530). A defining feature of civil law system is that the law and guiding principles are set out in codified statutes and interpreted on a case by case basis by the judges and precedent is far less important than in the common law. A general principle of English law is that parties are free to contract on their own terms and this is main attraction for the parties of international trade choosing applicable law to their contract. There is lack of mandatory regulations and remedies in English law and the parties could certainly expect that their rights and obligations will not be subject to undiscovered rules of mandatory law.
Lord Stein in his article mentioned that “The commercial advantage of the English approach is that it promotes certainty and predictability in the resolution of contractual disputes. And, as a matter of principle, it is not unfair to impute to contracting parties the intention that in the event of a dispute a neutral judge should decide the case applying an objective standard of reasonableness. That is then the context in which in English law one should interpret the proposition that effect must be given to the reasonable expectations of honest men.”
Simply to say - the law must respect the reasonable expectations of the contracting parties.
The expectations that will be protected are those that are, in an objective sense, common to both parties. The law of contract is generally not concerned with the subjective expectations of a party. The law does not protect unreasonable...