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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Case For Formalism In Relational Contract, Robert E. Scott Jan 2000

The Case For Formalism In Relational Contract, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

The distinguished scholars who gathered last year to honor Ian Macneil and to reflect on his contributions to the understanding of contract and contract law represent diverse methodologies, and they approach the vexing problems raised by relational contracts from different normative perspectives. But on one point, I daresay, they all agree: the central task in developing a plausible normative theory of contract law is to specify the appropriate role of the state in regulating incomplete contracts. Complete contracts (to the extent that they exist in the real world) are rarely, if ever, breached since by definition the payoffs for every ...


In Search Of Best Efforts: Reinterpreting Bloor V. Falstaff, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2000

In Search Of Best Efforts: Reinterpreting Bloor V. Falstaff, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

When contracting parties cannot quite define their obligations, they often resort to placeholder language, like "best efforts." They (and their counsel) likely have little idea of what they might mean, but, so long as they avoid litigation, it will not matter much. But "best efforts" clauses are on occasion litigated, and courts must read content into them. In Bloor v. Falstaff, a casebook favorite, the court held that Falstaff s lackluster promotional efforts for Ballantine beer violated its best efforts covenant. So far as I can tell, no commentators have questioned this outcome. Indeed, some commentators have found Falstaff s ...


(Baby) M Is For The Many Things: Why I Start With Baby M, Carol Sanger Jan 2000

(Baby) M Is For The Many Things: Why I Start With Baby M, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

For several years now I have begun my first-year contracts course with the 1988 New Jersey Supreme Court case In the Matter of Baby M. In this essay, I want to explain why. I offer the explanation in the spirit of modest proselytizing, recognizing that many of us already have a favored method or manner into the course: some introductory questions we pose before leaping into (or over) the introductions already provided by the editors of the many excellent casebooks available. But I have found that Baby M works extremely well in ways that others may want to consider. It ...


Optimal Standardization In The Law Of Property: The Numerus Clausus Principle, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith Jan 2000

Optimal Standardization In The Law Of Property: The Numerus Clausus Principle, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith

Faculty Scholarship

A central difference between contract and property concerns the freedom to "customize" legally enforceable interests. The law of contract recognizes no inherent limitations on the nature or the duration of the interests that can be the subject of a legally binding contract. Certain types of promises – such as promises to commit a crime – are declared unenforceable as a matter of public policy. But outside these relatively narrow areas of proscription and requirements such as definiteness and (maybe) consideration, there is a potentially infinite range of promises that the law will honor. The parties to a contract are free to be ...


The Case For Formalism In Relational Contract, Robert E. Scott Jan 2000

The Case For Formalism In Relational Contract, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

The central task in developing a plausible normative theory of contract law is to specify the appropriate role of the state in regulating incomplete or relational contracts. Complete contracts (to the extent that they exist in the real world) are rarely, if ever, breached since by definition the pay-offs for every relevant action and the corresponding sanctions for non performance are prescribed in the contract. In the case of incomplete (or relational) contracts, however, parties have incentives to breach by exploiting gaps in the contract. Making the verifiable terms of the contract legally enforceable and regulating incompleteness in a consistent ...


Social Norms And The Legal Regulation Of Marriage, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2000

Social Norms And The Legal Regulation Of Marriage, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This paper examines the influence of legal regulation on the social norms that shape marital behavior, focusing particularly on the interaction between legal reform and norm change in the past generation. Two categories of norms governed the spousal and parental roles in traditional marriage – commitment norms and gender norms. In regulating the spousal relationship, commitment norms functioned to promote cooperation and to allow the parties to make credible commitments, while gender norms encouraged spouses to subordinate the wife's interest to that of the husband. These norms, although analytically distinct, were intricately interwoven (or "bundled"), so that disaggregation became difficult ...


Trade Secrets And Mutual Investments, Gillian L. Lester, Eric L. Talley Jan 2000

Trade Secrets And Mutual Investments, Gillian L. Lester, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

This paper employs an optimal contracting framework to study the question of how courts should adjudicate disputes over valuable trade secrets (such as customer lists). We focus principally on contexts where trade secrets are formed endogenously, through specific, non-contractible investments that could potentially come from either employers or employees (or both). Within such contexts, we argue, an "optimal" trade secret law diverges in many important respects from existing doctrine. In particular, an optimal doctrine would (1) expressly consider the parties' relative skills at making value enhancing investments rather than the mere existence of a valuable informational asset; (2) tend to ...


(Baby) M Is For The Many Things: Why I Start With Baby M, Carol Sanger Jan 2000

(Baby) M Is For The Many Things: Why I Start With Baby M, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

For several years now I have begun my first-year contracts course with the 1988 New Jersey Supreme Court case In the Matter of Baby M. In this essay, I want to explain why. I offer the explanation in the spirit of modest proselytizing, recognizing that many of us already have a favored method or manner into the course: some introductory questions we pose before leaping into (or over) the introductions already provided by the editors of the many excellent casebooks available. But I have found that Baby M works extremely well in ways that others may want to consider. It ...


Social Norms And The Legal Regulation Of Marriage, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2000

Social Norms And The Legal Regulation Of Marriage, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Americans have interesting and somewhat puzzling attitudes about the state's role in defining and enforcing family obligations. Most people view lasting marriage as an important part of their life plans and take the commitment of marriage very seriously. Yet any legal initiative designed to reinforce that commitment generates controversy and is viewed with suspicion in many quarters. For example, covenant marriage statutes, which offer couples entering marriage the option of undertaking a modest marital commitment, are seen by many observers as coercive and regressive measures rather than ameliorating reforms.

The law tends to reflect – and perhaps contributes to – this ...


Economic Reasoning And The Framing Of Contract Law: Sale Of An Asset Of Uncertain Value, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2000

Economic Reasoning And The Framing Of Contract Law: Sale Of An Asset Of Uncertain Value, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

By analyzing two American contract law decisions, the paper illustrates the usefulness of economic analysis in framing the inquiry. The cases have a common feature, unrecognized by the courts: they both deal with the production and transfer of information regarding the sale of an asset of uncertain value. One involves the combination of an option and a lockup to encourage the buyer to produce information. The other involves contingent compensation to convey the seller's assurance of the quality of the assets. Once this is recognized, the outcomes are straightforward.