Business Transaction Invalidity in the Context of the Principle of Legality

Full Text:


This paper explores business transactions in the context of the principle of legality. It will be argued that Article 168 of the Russian Civil Code, as a metarule, contains three types of rule: 1) rules dealing with the priority of special rules and exceptions (exclusive rules); 2) rules dealing with the interpretation of general, special and exclusive rules, as well as with the requirements of statutes or other legal acts violated by a transaction and established outside of Article 168 of the Civil Code; 3) rules dealing with the admissibility of special rules and exceptions, as well as with the conditions of admissibility of these rules.
With regard to the first group of rules, the legislature and commercial courts consider Article 168 of the Civil Code a common base for other grounds in the Civil Code, and in certain other statutes, for declaring transactions invalid. According to the second group of rules, the subject-matter (object) of legal interpretation consists of two elements: а) the text of Article 168 of the Civil Code; and b) the texts of legal acts, described by the generic term “statute or other legal act.” Article 168 of the Civil Code provides instructions, not only for rules as objects of application of the article, but also for the methods of interpreting violated requirements. The rules of admissibility for special rules and exceptions, as well as the conditions of admissibility for these standards, are aimed at the numerous cases in which the legislature, in the Civil Code or in other legal acts, expressly establishes nullity (voidness), voidability and other legal consequences for illegal transactions. The paper also answers questions regarding the impact of recent amendments to the Russian Civil
Code on the use, by commercial courts, of rules on business transaction invalidity.

About the Author

Konstantin Totyev
National Research University Higher School of Economics
Russian Federation

Associate Professor at the Department of Civil and Business Law;

8 Pokrovsky boulevard, Moscow, 109028, Russia


1. Adomeit K. Rechtstheorie für Studenten: Normlogik, Methodenlehre, Rechtspolitologie (Heidelberg: R. v. Decker, 1979).

2. Altman A. Arguing about Law: An Introduction to Legal Philosophy (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2001).

3. Barak A. Purposive Interpretation in Law (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).

4. Bingham T. The Rule of Law (London: Allen Lane, Penguin Press, 2010).

5. Blaise J.-B. Droit des affaires: commerçants, concurrence, distribution (4th ed., Paris: LGDJ, 2007).

6. Boemke B., Ulrici B. BGB Allgemeiner Teil (Heidelberg: Springer, 2009).

7. Bydlinski P. Bürgerliches Recht. Bd. I (Wien: Springer, 2005).

8. Canaris C.-W. Gesetzliches Verbot und Rechtsgeschäft (Heidelberg: C.F. Müller, 1983).

9. Cane P. Responsibility in Law and Morality (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2002).

10. Cross R. Statutory Interpretation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

11. Dworkin R. A Matter of Principle (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1985).

12. Dworkin R. Taking Rights Seriously (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1978).

13. Fages B. Droit des obligations (Paris: LGDJ, 2007).

14. Gordley J. Foundations of Private Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

15. Graziano T.K. Comparative Contract Law (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009).

16. Hart H.L.A. The Concept of Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994).

17. Mail-Fouilleul S. Les sanctions de la violation du droit communautaire de la concurrence (Paris: LGDJ, 2002).

18. Mazeaud H. et al. Leçons de droit civil. T. II: Obligations: théorie générale (9th ed., Paris: Montchrestien, 1998).

19. Medicus D. Allgemeiner Teil des BGB (Heidelberg: C.F. Müller, 2006). Methods of Comparative Law (P.G. Monateri, ed., Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2012).

20. Molfessis N. Le Conseil constitutionnel et le droit privé (Paris: LGDJ, 1997).

21. Morgan J. Contract Law (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

22. Riesenhuber K. Europäisches Vertragsrecht (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2004).

23. Rochfeld J. Les grandes notions du droit privé (Paris: PUF, 2011).

24. Shapiro S.J. Legality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011).

25. The Theory of Contract Law (P. Benson, ed., New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

26. Weinberger O. Rechtslogik (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1989).

Supplementary files

For citation: Totyev K. Business Transaction Invalidity in the Context of the Principle of Legality. Russian Law Journal. 2016;4(4):81-94.

Views: 495


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 2309-8678 (Print)
ISSN 2312-3605 (Online)