The parties are free to enter into a contract and to determine its content.




1. Freedom of contract as a basic principle in the context of international trade


The principle of freedom of contract is of paramount importance in the context of international trade. The right of business people to decide freely to whom they will offer their goods or services and by whom they wish to be supplied, as well as the possibility for them freely to agree on the terms of individual transactions, are the cornerstones of an open, market-oriented and competitive international economic order.


2. Economic sectors where there is no competition


There are of course a number of possible exceptions to the principle laid down in this Article.

As concerns the freedom to conclude contracts with any other person, there are economic sectors which States may decide in the public interest to exclude from open competition. In such cases the goods or services in question can only be requested from the one available supplier, which will usually be a public body, and which may or may not be under a duty to conclude a contract with whoever makes a request, within the limits of the availability of the goods or services.


3. Limitation of party autonomy by mandatory rules


With respect to the freedom to determine the content of the contract, in the first instance the Principles themselves contain provisions from which the parties may not derogate (see Article 1.5).

Moreover, there are mandatory rules, whether of national, international or supra-national origin, which, if applicable in accordance with the relevant rules of private international law, prevail over the provisions contained in the Principles and from which the parties cannot derogate (see Article 1.4).

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