On 6 December, a plenary session of the Cour de cassation ruled that surety
agreements designed to ensure the payment of rent should be directly
assigned to the new owner of real estate, except where the guarantor had provided
On 23 November 2004, the Cour de cassation rendered four decisions
relating to the legal nature of life insurance contracts. The
court indicated that unlike capitalisation operations and unless premiums were
obviously exaggerated, the core element of life insurance contracts was the
existence of a hazard to human life.
On 17 December 2003, the Commercial Section of the Cour de cassation held that
a creditor could not be liable for accepting as a guarantor someone whose means
were disproportionately lower than the amount she/he was committing herself/himself
to pay in lieu of the debtor. The principle had already been stated in the Nahoum
case rendered on 8 October 2002 (D. 2003, 414). The protective approach favoured
by the same section in 1997 (Macron case, 17 June 1997, Bull. civ.
IV, no. 188) – where a Bank was on the contrary made to pay damages to
a guarantor whose security commitment highly exceeded his means – has
now therefore clearly been overruled. But the Cour de cassation specifies in
this case that the new position does not extend to the guarantor’s spouse,
who may therefore sue for damages. One must also note that if the new 1st August
2003 Act had been applicable to the facts, the creditor’s right to claim
performance from the guarantor would have been altogether forfeited.
The Civil Second Section of the Cour de cassation confirmed the limits
set out to judicial review of excessive lawyers’ fees (18.9.2003). In
1998, the Cour de cassation had held that judges may reduce fees that appear
disproportionately high. The Court now limited this solution to cases where
fees were agreed upon before any work was carried out. If the agreement
relating to fees was reached after the performance of the legal services,
it has to be enforced however high the fees may be.