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Columbia Law School

Columbia Law Review

Contracts

Articles 1 - 14 of 14

Full-Text Articles in Law

Contracting Out Of The Fiduciary Duty Of Loyalty: An Empirical Analysis Of Corporate Opportunity Waivers, Gabriel Rauterberg, Eric L. Talley Jan 2017

Contracting Out Of The Fiduciary Duty Of Loyalty: An Empirical Analysis Of Corporate Opportunity Waivers, Gabriel Rauterberg, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

For centuries, the duty of loyalty has been the hallowed centerpiece of fiduciary obligation, widely considered one of the few “mandatory” rules of corporate law. That view, however, is no longer true. Beginning in 2000, Delaware dramatically departed from tradition by granting incorporated entities a statutory right to waive a crucial part of the duty of loyalty: the corporate opportunities doctrine. Other states have since followed Delaware’s lead, similarly permitting firms to execute “corporate opportunity waivers.” Surprisingly, more than fifteen years into this reform experiment, no study has attempted to either systematically measure the corporate response to these reforms ...


The Equipoise Effect, Bert Huang Jan 2016

The Equipoise Effect, Bert Huang

Faculty Scholarship

This Essay explores an overlooked way to use the remedy of disgorgement in torts, contracts, and regulation. It begins with a reminder that disgorging net gains does not force the liable actor to take a loss; by definition, it allows him to break even. As a matter of incentives, it places him in a sort of equipoise. This equipoise effect has a logical upshot that might seem counterintuitive: Substituting disgorgement for any other remedy, part of the time, can emulate the incentive effect of using that other remedy all of the time.

In theory, then, courts or regulators can sometimes ...


From Contract To Status: Collaboration And The Evolution Of Novel Family Relationships, Elizabeth S. Scott, Robert E. Scott Jan 2015

From Contract To Status: Collaboration And The Evolution Of Novel Family Relationships, Elizabeth S. Scott, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

The past decade has witnessed dramatic changes in public atti- tudes about and legal status for same-sex couples who wish to marry. These changes demonstrate that the legal conception of the family is no longer limited to traditional marriage. They also raise the possibility that other relationships – cohabiting couples and their children, voluntary kin groups, multigenerational groups, and polygamists – might gain legal recognition as families. This Article probes the challenges faced by aspiring families and the means by which they could attain their goal. It builds on the premise that the state remains committed to social-welfare criteria for granting family ...


Protecting Reliance, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2014

Protecting Reliance, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

Reliance plays a central role in contract law and scholarship. One party relies on the other's promised performance, its statements, or its anticipated entry into a formal agreement. Saying that reliance is important, however, says nothing about what we should do about it. The focus of this Essay is on the many ways that parties choose to protect reliance. The relationship between what parties do and what contract doctrine cares about is tenuous at best. Contract performance takes place over time, and the nature of the parties 'future obligations can be deferred to take into account changing circumstances. Reliance ...


Braiding: The Interaction Of Formal And Informal Contracting In Theory, Practice, And Doctrine, Ronald J. Gilson, Charles F. Sabel, Robert E. Scott Jan 2010

Braiding: The Interaction Of Formal And Informal Contracting In Theory, Practice, And Doctrine, Ronald J. Gilson, Charles F. Sabel, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This Article studies the relationship between formal and informal contract enforcement. The theoretical literature treats the two strategies as separate phenomena. By contrast, a rich experimental literature considers whether the introduction of formal contracting and state enforcement "crowds out" the operation of informal contracting. Both literatures focus too narrowly on how formal contracts create incentives for parties to perfom substantive actions, while assuming that informal enforcement depends on preexisting levels of trust. As a result, current scholarship misses the relationship between formal and informal contract mechanisms that characterizes contemporary contracting in practice. Parties respond to rising uncertainty by writing contracts ...


The Correspondence Of Contract And Promise, Jody S. Kraus Jan 2009

The Correspondence Of Contract And Promise, Jody S. Kraus

Faculty Scholarship

Correspondence accounts of the relationship between contract and promise hold either that contract law is justified to the extent it enforces a corresponding moral responsibility for a promise or unjustified to the extent it undermines promissory morality by refusing to enforce a corresponding moral responsibility for a promise. In this Article, I claim that contract scholars have mistakenly presumed that they can assess the correspondence between contract and promise without first providing a theory of self-imposed moral responsibility that explains and justifies the promise principle. I argue that any plausible theory of self-imposed moral responsibility is inconsistent with a strong ...


Contracting For Innovation: Vertical Disintegration And Interfirm Collaboration, Ronald J. Gilson, Charles F. Sabel, Robert E. Scott Jan 2009

Contracting For Innovation: Vertical Disintegration And Interfirm Collaboration, Ronald J. Gilson, Charles F. Sabel, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Rapidly innovating industries are not behaving the way theory expects. Conventional industrial organization theory predicts that, when parties in a supply chain have to make transaction-specific investments, the risk of opportunism will drive them away from contracts and toward vertical integration. Despite the conventional theory, however, contemporary practice is moving in the other direction. Instead of vertical integration, we observe vertical disintegration in a significant number of industries, as producers recognize that they cannot themselves maintain cutting-edge technology in every field required for the success of their products. In doing this, the parties are developing forms of contracting beyond the ...


Just One Click: The Reality Of Internet Retail Contracting, Ronald J. Mann, Travis Siebeneicher Jan 2008

Just One Click: The Reality Of Internet Retail Contracting, Ronald J. Mann, Travis Siebeneicher

Faculty Scholarship

This Essay explores the enforceability and presence of pro-seller contract terms in internet retail contracts. Analyzing case law on internet contract enforceability and a survey of 500 firms'websites, it demonstrates that even the enforceability of many internet contracts is questionable. It then presents new data that suggest that the prevalence of pro-seller contract terms is far less than usually assumed. It suggests that the benefit of making these terms enforceable is outweighed by the loss of user friendliness required for the necessary interface changes. Finally, it uses fresh statistical analyses to determine what relationship, if any, exists between enforceability ...


Market Damages, Efficient Contracting, And The Economic Waste Fallacy, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott Jan 2008

Market Damages, Efficient Contracting, And The Economic Waste Fallacy, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Market damages are the best default rule when parties trade in thick markets: They induce parties to contract efficiently and to trade if and only if trade is efficient, and they do not create ex ante inefficiencies. Courts commonly overlook these virtues, however, when promisors bundle services that are not separately priced. For example, a promisor may agree to pay royalties on a mining lease and later to restore the promisee's property. When the cost of completion is large relative to the "market delta " – the increase in market value – courts concerned with avoiding "economic waste" limit the buyer to ...


The Economics Of Form And Substance In Contract Interpretation, Avery W. Katz Jan 2004

The Economics Of Form And Substance In Contract Interpretation, Avery W. Katz

Faculty Scholarship

For over a century, legal commentators have debated the relative merits of formal and substantive approaches to the interpretation of contracts; in recent years, the debate has increasingly been conducted in the language of the economic approach to contract law. While this new wave of scholarship has been relatively successful in relating the traditional debates over formalism to specific transactional and institutional problems such as imperfect information, it has been less productive in terms of generating useful legal or policy recommendations. This Essay proposes a different approach: one that focuses on private rather than public legal decisionmakers as its primary ...


Embedded Options In The Case Against Compensation In Contract Law, Robert E. Scott, George G. Triantis Jan 2004

Embedded Options In The Case Against Compensation In Contract Law, Robert E. Scott, George G. Triantis

Faculty Scholarship

Although compensation is the governing principle in contract law remedies, it has tenuous historical, economic, and empirical support. A promisor's right to breach and pay damages is only a subset of a larger family of termination rights that do not purport to compensate the promisee for losses suffered when the promisor walks away from the contemplated exchange. These termination rights can be characterized as embedded options that serve important risk management functions. We show that sellers often sell insurance to their buyers in the form of these embedded call options, and that termination fees, including damages, are in essence ...


A Theory Of Self-Enforcing Indefinite Agreements, Robert E. Scott Jan 2003

A Theory Of Self-Enforcing Indefinite Agreements, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

One of the core principles of contract law is the requirement of definiteness. Conventional wisdom holds, however, that the indefiniteness doctrine is largely ignored by courts. In this Article, Professor Scott examines the contemporary case law on indefinite contracts and his review yields three striking findings. First, there is a surprisingly high volume of litigation. Second, the indefiniteness doctrine lives on in the common law of contracts. Third, a large number of the indefiniteness cases involve contracts that are "deliberately" incomplete – that is, parties have declined to condition performance on available, verifiable measures that could be specified in the contract ...


The Property/Contract Interface, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith Jan 2001

The Property/Contract Interface, Thomas W. Merrill, Henry E. Smith

Faculty Scholarship

This Article explores the distinction between in personam contract rights and in rem property rights. It presents a functional explanation for why the legal system utilizes these two modalities of rights, grounded in the pattern of information costs associated with each modality. To test this theory, the Article examines four legal institutions that fall along the property/contract interface – bailments, landlord-tenant law, security interests, and trusts – in order to determine how the legal doctrine varies as the underlying situation shifts from in personam, to in rem, to certain relations intermediate between these poles. With respect to each institution, we generally ...


Liquidated Damages, Penalties And The Just Compensation Principle: Some Notes On An Enforcement Model And A Theory Of Efficient Breach, Charles J. Goetz, Robert E. Scott Jan 1977

Liquidated Damages, Penalties And The Just Compensation Principle: Some Notes On An Enforcement Model And A Theory Of Efficient Breach, Charles J. Goetz, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

For more than five centuries, strict judicial scrutiny has been applied to contractual provisions which specify an agreed amount of damages upon breach of a base obligation. Although the standards determining the enforceability of liquidated damage clauses have developed novel and labyrinthine permutations, their motivating principle has remained essentially immutable. For an executory agreement fixing damages in case of breach to be enforceable, it must constitute a reasonable forecast of the provable injury resulting from breach; otherwise, the clause will be unenforceable as a penalty and the non-breaching party will be limited to conventional damage measures.

The historical genesis of ...