In general, consumers enter into contracts for fundamentally different reasons than commercial parties. A company usually aims to make profits. A consumer, on the other hand, typically enters into a contract in order to obtain some intangible benefit or to achieve a non-pecuniary goal. He books a holiday with a travel agency, engages a wedding photographer to obtain wedding photos, or hires a lawyer to get parental authority over his children. By concluding such contracts, the consumer does not necessarily pursue any economic benefits, but rather aims for pleasure, enjoyment, relaxation, or another non-pecuniary goal. A breach of such a contract by the other party may harm his non-pecuniary interests: the flight to the holiday destination is cancelled, the wedding photos are hideous, or the request for parental authority is denied due to his lawyer’s negligence. Especially if the innocent party cannot demand specific performance, the question arises whether the non-pecuniary contractual interests are, and should be, protected within the law of damages. In this presentation, I will discuss the different ways in which the English and Dutch law of damages protect these non-pecuniary contractual interests of the innocent party and explain to what extent the approaches of these legal systems differ. The Dutch case about Mr Burger – a man who wanted to race in the Dakar Rally, but was disqualified due to the malfunctioning of his motor, which was provided by Brouwer Motors BV – will serve as a starting point for this comparison. 

Thijs Beumers (School of Law, Leiden University)


A sandwich lunch will be available from 12.30. The meeting will begin at 1pm.