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Full-Text Articles in Law

Designing And Enforcing Preliminary Agreements, Albert H. Choi, George Triantis Feb 2020

Designing And Enforcing Preliminary Agreements, Albert H. Choi, George Triantis

Articles

Preliminary agreements—variously labeled as memoranda of understanding, letters of intent, term sheets, commitment letters, or agreements in principle—are common in complex business transactions. They document an incomplete set of terms that the parties have agreed upon, while anticipating further negotiation of the remaining provisions. They often create legal obligations, particularly a duty to negotiate in good faith. This duty has been the subject of a substantial number of judicial opinions over the past few decades and yet continues to be regarded as a confusing and unpredictable issue in contract law. Legal scholarship is hamstrung in its analysis of ...


Contracts Ex Machina, Kevin Werbach, Nicolas Cornell Nov 2017

Contracts Ex Machina, Kevin Werbach, Nicolas Cornell

Articles

Smart contracts are self-executing digital transactions using decentralized cryptographic mechanisms for enforcement. They were theorized more than twenty years ago, but the recent development of Bitcoin and blockchain technologies has rekindled excitement about their potential among technologists and industry. Startup companies and major enterprises alike are now developing smart contract solutions for an array of markets, purporting to offer a digital bypass around traditional contract law. For legal scholars, smart contracts pose a significant question: Do smart contracts offer a superior solution to the problems that contract law addresses? In this article, we aim to understand both the potential and ...


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

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

Articles

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 ...


A Complainant-Oriented Approach To Unconscionability And Contract Law, Nicholas Cornell Jun 2016

A Complainant-Oriented Approach To Unconscionability And Contract Law, Nicholas Cornell

Articles

This Article draws attention to a conceptual point that has been overlooked in recent discussions about the theoretical foundations of contract law. I argue that, rather than enforcing the obligations of promises, contract law concerns complaints against promissory wrongs. This conceptual distinction is easy to miss. If one assumes that complaints arise whenever an obligation has been violated, then the distinction does not seem meaningful. I show, however, that an obligation can be breached without giving rise to a valid complaint. This Article illustrates the importance of this conceptual distinction by focusing first on the doctrine of substantive unconscionability. I ...


Understanding Noncompetition Agreements: The 2014 Noncompete Survey Project, J. J. Prescott, Norman D. Bishara, Evan Starr Apr 2016

Understanding Noncompetition Agreements: The 2014 Noncompete Survey Project, J. J. Prescott, Norman D. Bishara, Evan Starr

Articles

In recent years, scholars and policymakers have devoted considerable attention to the potential consequences of employment noncompetition agreements and to whether legislatures ought to reform the laws that govern the enforcement of these controversial contractual provisions. Unfortunately, much of this interest—and the content of proposed reforms—derives from anecdotal tales of burdensome noncompetes among low-wage workers and from scholarship that is either limited to slivers of the population (across all studies, less than 1%) or relies on strong assumptions about the incidence of noncompetition agreements. Better understanding of the use of noncompetes and effective noncompetition law reform requires a ...


Mandatory Arbitration In Consumer Finance And Investor Contracts, Michael S. Barr Oct 2015

Mandatory Arbitration In Consumer Finance And Investor Contracts, Michael S. Barr

Articles

Mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses are pervasive in consumer financial and investor contracts—for credit cards, bank accounts, auto loans, broker-dealer services, and many others. These clauses often ill serve households. Consumers are typically presented with contracts on a “take it or leave it” basis, with no ability to negotiate over terms. Arbitration provisions are often not clearly disclosed, and in any event are not salient for consumers, who do not focus on the importance of the provision in the event that a dispute over the contract later arises, and who may misforecast the likelihood of being in such a dispute ...


With Marriage On The Decline And Cohabitation On The Rise, What About Marital Rights For Unmarried Partners?, Lawrence W. Waggoner Oct 2015

With Marriage On The Decline And Cohabitation On The Rise, What About Marital Rights For Unmarried Partners?, Lawrence W. Waggoner

Articles

This article draws attention to a cultural shift in the formation of families that has been and is taking place in this country and in the developed world. Part I uses recent government data to trace the decline of marriage and the rise of cohabitation in the United States. Between 2000 and 2010, the population grew by 9.71 %, but the husband and wife households only grew by 3.7%, while the unmarried couple households grew by 41.4%. A counter-intuitive finding is that the early 21st century data show little correlation between the marriage rate and economic conditions. Because ...


Implementing Symmetric Treatment Of Financial Contracts In Bankruptcy And Bank Resolution, E. J. Janger, John A.E. Pottow Jan 2015

Implementing Symmetric Treatment Of Financial Contracts In Bankruptcy And Bank Resolution, E. J. Janger, John A.E. Pottow

Articles

Financial contracts come in many forms and serve many functions in both the financial system and the broader economy. Repos secured by U.S. Treasury securities act as money substitutes and can play an important role as part of the money supply, while similarly structured repos, secured by more volatile collateral, may be used as speculative devices or hedges. Swaps can be used to insure against various types of market risk, from interest rates to oil prices, or they can operate as vehicles for highly leveraged investments. The parties to these instruments are sometimes major financial institutions and, other times ...


Warranties In The Box, James J. White Jan 2009

Warranties In The Box, James J. White

Articles

Thousands of times each day, a buyer opens a box that contains a new computer or other electronic device. There he finds written material including an express "Limited Warranty." Sometimes the box has come by FedEx directly from the manufacturer; other times the buyer has carried it home from a retail merchant. Despite the fact that it is standard practice for the manufacturer to include a limited written express warranty on the sale of such products,' and despite the fact that both the manufacturer and the buyer believe that warranty to be legally enforceable, the law on its enforceability is ...


Partially Odious Debts?, Omri Ben-Shahar, Mitu Gulati Jan 2007

Partially Odious Debts?, Omri Ben-Shahar, Mitu Gulati

Articles

The despotic ruler of a poor nation borrows extensively from foreign creditors. He spends some of those funds on building statues of himself, others on buying arms for his brutal secret police, and he places the remainder in his personal bank accounts in Switzerland. The longer the despot stays in power, the poorer the nation becomes. Although the secret police are able to keep prodemocracy protests subdued by force for many years, eventually there is a popular revolt. The despot flees the scene with a few billion dollars of his illgotten gains. The populist regime that replaces the despot now ...


Boilerplate And Economic Power In Auto Manufacturing Contracts, Omri Ben-Shahar, James J. White Jan 2006

Boilerplate And Economic Power In Auto Manufacturing Contracts, Omri Ben-Shahar, James J. White

Articles

This Article is structured as follows. Part I compares the terms and conditions in the purchase orders of the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and highlights important differences in the substance of these boilerplate provisions. It argues that these differences cannot be easily reconciled with the prediction that sophisticated parties draft the most efficient boilerplate terms. Part II examines how these forms are drafted, how their terms are negotiated, and how the OEMs guard their terms from erosion. It provides some insight on how tailoring occurs and how the internal organization of a party to a deal affects the terms that ...


On The Stickiness Of Default Rules, Omri Ben-Shahar, John A. E. Pottow Jan 2006

On The Stickiness Of Default Rules, Omri Ben-Shahar, John A. E. Pottow

Articles

It was once perceived, and still is commonly taught, that default rules in contract law must mimic efficient arrangements. Otherwise, these rules impose needless transaction costs upon parties who seek to opt out of them to reach more efficient positions. In settings where these costs are high, parties might find themselves "stuck" in a default, unable to reach the outcome that they prefer. The strong version of this account-that the only factor that can make an inefficient default rule stick is the direct cost of drafting a tailored provision-has been gradually reappraised. It is by now recognized that factors beyond ...


Foreword [To Boilerplate: Foundations Of Market Contracts Symposium], Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2006

Foreword [To Boilerplate: Foundations Of Market Contracts Symposium], Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

It is tempting to open this symposium with yet another "boilerplate" salute to the challenge that standard-form contracts pose for contract law doctrine. You may have seen many tributes to this fundamental problem. If I were to offer my own variation on this familiar introduction, I would have perhaps tried to come up with an original spin to induce you to read forward another paragraph or two. I would probably have talked about a major divide within contract law between the "law of negotiations" and "product regulation." The former is the body of doctrines that determine the legal consequences of ...


Contracts Without Consent: Exploring A New Basis For Contractual Liability, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

Contracts Without Consent: Exploring A New Basis For Contractual Liability, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

This Essay explores an alternative to one of the pillars of contract law, that obligations arise only when there is "mutual assent "--when the parties reach consensus over the terms of the transaction. It explores a principle of "no-retraction," under which each party is obligated to terms it manifested and can retract only with some liability. In contrast to the all-or-nothing nature of the mutual assent regime, where preliminary forms of consent are either full-blown contracts or create no obligation, under the no-retraction regime, obligations emerge gradually, as the positions of the negotiating parties draw closer. Further, the no-retraction liability ...


The Law Of Duress And The Economics Of Credible Threats, Oren Bar-Gill, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

The Law Of Duress And The Economics Of Credible Threats, Oren Bar-Gill, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

This paper argues that enforcement of an agreement, reached under a threat to refrain from dealing, should be conditioned solely on the threat's credibility. When a credible threat exists, enforcement promotes social welfare and the threatened party's interests. If agreements backed by credible threats were not enforceable, the threatening party would not extort them and would instead refrain from deaing-to the threatened party's detriment. The doctrine of duress, which invalidates such agreements, hurts the coerced party. By denying enforcement when a credible threat exists, the duress doctrine precludes the threatened party from making the commitment necessary to ...


Threatening An Irrational Breach Of Contract, Oren Bar-Gill, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

Threatening An Irrational Breach Of Contract, Oren Bar-Gill, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

When circumstances surrounding the contract change, a party might consider breach a more attractive option than performance. Threatening breach, this party may induce the other party to modify the original agreement. The contract law doctrine of modification determines whether and when these modifications are enforceable. To promote social welfare as well as the interests of the threatened party, the law should enforce modifications if and only if the modification demand is backed by a credible threat to breach. This paper argues that credibility is not a function of pecuniary interests alone. A decision to breach can be motivated also by ...


Mutual Assent Versus Gradual Ascent: The Debate Over The Right To Retract, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

Mutual Assent Versus Gradual Ascent: The Debate Over The Right To Retract, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

I ended Contracts Without Consent: Exploring a New Basis for Contract Liability with a reminder that the analysis was "lacking in rigor and in nuance" and that "[i]t remains for future work to explore the extent to which the approach developed. . . has the horsepower to resolve pragmatically the problems that have proven difficult for current doctrine and to examine whether these solutions advance the various social objectives associated with contract formation." Such "future work" arrived sooner than I expected. I have now had the privilege to read the three commentaries that the University of Pennsylvania Law Review solicited, three ...


'Agreeing To Disagree': Filling Gaps In Deliberately Incomplete Contracts, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

'Agreeing To Disagree': Filling Gaps In Deliberately Incomplete Contracts, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

Incomplete contracts have always been viewed as raising the following challenge for contract law: does the incompleteness-or, "indefiniteness," as it is usually called-rise to such a level that renders the agreement legally unenforceable? When the indefiniteness concerns important terms, it is presumed that the parties have not reached an agreement to which they intend to be bound. This "fundamental policy" is the upshot of the view that "contracts should be made by the parties, not by the courts."' When, in contrast, the indefiniteness concerns less important terms, courts supplement the agreement with gap fillers and enforce the supplemented contract.


Forward [To Freedom From Contract Symposium], Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

Forward [To Freedom From Contract Symposium], Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

This Symposium explores freedom from contract. When I was preparing to travel from my home in Ann Arbor to the University of Wisconsin where this Symposium was to be held, my 9-year-old son asked where I was headed. I explained that a bunch of people and I were going to meet and talk about freedom from contract, but the boy seemed unsure what this exchange was going to be about. I tried to translate: "It is about making promises that you don't really have to keep." This sounded surprising to him. He raised an inquisitive brow, and I knew ...


Contracting Under Amended 2-207 (Freedom From Contract Symposium), James J. White Jan 2004

Contracting Under Amended 2-207 (Freedom From Contract Symposium), James J. White

Articles

Amended Section 2-207 of the Uniform Commercial Code1 (the Code) states new contract rules. I call these "contract rules" to avoid the labels of contract formation and contract interpretation. These new rules cure many of the problems presented by current Section 2-2072 and remind courts that the purpose of Section 2-207 is to interpret a contract that has been made, not to see if a contract exists. One is tempted to label current Section 2-207 as a contract formation provision-and to some extent that would be right-but most of this Section's work has been in contract interpretation, not in ...


Default Rules In Sales And The Myth Of Contracting Out, James J. White Jan 2002

Default Rules In Sales And The Myth Of Contracting Out, James J. White

Articles

In this article, I trace the dispute in the courts and before the ALI and NCCUSL over the proper contract formation and interpretation default rules. In Part II, I consider the Gateway litigation. In Part III, I deal with UCITA and the revision to Article 2. In Part IV, I consider the merits of the competing default rules.


A Footnote For Jack Dawson, James J. White, David A. Peters Jan 2002

A Footnote For Jack Dawson, James J. White, David A. Peters

Articles

Jack Dawson, known to many at Michigan as Black Jack, taught at the Law School from 1927 to 1958. Much of his work was published in the Michigan Law Review, where he served as a student editor during the 1923-24 academic year. We revisit his work and provide a footnote to his elegant writing on mistake and supervening events. In Part I, we talk a little about Jack the man. In Part II, we recite the nature and significance of his scholarly work. Part III deals briefly with the cases decided in the last twenty years by American courts on ...


Precontractual Reliance, Lucian A. Bebchuk, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2001

Precontractual Reliance, Lucian A. Bebchuk, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

During contractual negotiations, parties often make reliance expenditures that would increase the surplus should a contract be made. This paper analyzes decisions to invest in precontractual reliance under alternative legal regimes. Investments in reliance will be socially suboptimal in the absence of any precontractual liability-and will be socially excessive under strict liability for all reliance expenditures. Given the results for these polar cases, we focus on exploring how "intermediate"-liability rules could be best designed to induce efficient reliance decisions. One of our results indicates that the case for liability is shown to be stronger when a party retracts from ...


Good Faith And The Cooperative Antagonist (Symposium On Revised Article 1 And Proposed Revised Article 2 Of The Uniform Commercial Code), James J. White Jan 2001

Good Faith And The Cooperative Antagonist (Symposium On Revised Article 1 And Proposed Revised Article 2 Of The Uniform Commercial Code), James J. White

Articles

One of Karl Llewellyn's most noted achievements in the Uniform Commercial Code was to impose the duty of good faith on every obligation under the Uniform Commercial Code.1 Some (I am one) have privately thought that imposition of this unmeasurable, undefinable duty was Llewellyn's cruelest trick, but no court, nor any academic writer, has ever been so bold or so gauche as to suggest that good faith should not attend the obligations of parties under the UCC. Notwithstanding this silent indorsement of the duty of good faith, the courts2 and commentators3 have had difficulty in determining what ...


The Secrecy Interest In Contract Law, Omri Ben-Shahar, Lisa Bernstein Jan 2000

The Secrecy Interest In Contract Law, Omri Ben-Shahar, Lisa Bernstein

Articles

A long and distinguished line of law-and-economics articles has established that in many circumstances fully compensatory expectation damages are a desirable remedy for breach of contract because they induce both efficient performance and efficient breach. The expectation measure, which seeks to put the breached-against party in the position she would have been in had the contract been performed, has, therefore, rightly been chosen as the dominant contract default rule. It does a far better job of regulating breach-or-perform incentives than its leading competitors-the restitution measure, the reliance measure, and specific performance. This Essay does not directly take issue with the ...


Autistic Contracts (Symposium), James J. White Jan 2000

Autistic Contracts (Symposium), James J. White

Articles

In this paper I address the question whether the law should affirm the offeror's inference and should bind the offeree to the terms proposed by the offeror even in circumstances where the offeree may not intend to accept those terms and where an objective observer might not draw the inference of agreement from the offeree's act. Modem practice and current proposals concerning contract formation in Revised Article 2 and in the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (nee Article 2B) press these issues on us more forcefully than old practices and different law did. 1 But contractual autism is ...


The Tentative Case Against Flexibility In Commercial Law, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 1999

The Tentative Case Against Flexibility In Commercial Law, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

Well-rooted in modern commercial law is the idea that the law and the obligations that it enforces should reflect the empirical reality of the relationship between the contracting parties. The Uniform Commercial Code ("Code") champions this tradition by viewing the performance practices formed among the parties throughout their interaction as a primary source for interpreting and supplementing their explicit contracts. The generous recognition of waiver and modifications, as well as the binding force the Code accords to course of performance, course of dealings, and customary trade usages, effectively permits unwritten commercial practices to vary and to erode explicit contractual provisions.


Freeing The Tortious Soul Of Express Warranty Law, James J. White Jan 1998

Freeing The Tortious Soul Of Express Warranty Law, James J. White

Articles

I suspect that most American lawyers and law students regard express warranty as neither more nor less than a term in a contract, a term that is subject to conventional contract rules on formation, interpretation, and remedy. Assume, for example, that a buyer sends a purchase order to a seller and the purchase order specifies the delivery of 300 tons of "prime Thomas cold rolled steel." The acknowledgment also describes the goods to be sold as "prime Thomas cold rolled steel." Every American lawyer would agree that there is a contract to deliver such steel and furthermore would conclude that ...


Form Contracts Under Revised Article 2 (Symposium: Consumer Protection And The Uniform Commercial Code), James J. White Jan 1997

Form Contracts Under Revised Article 2 (Symposium: Consumer Protection And The Uniform Commercial Code), James J. White

Articles

The current draft of section 2-206 in Revised Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code ("UCC") entitled "Consumer Contract: Standard Form"1 presents a unique and threatening challenge to the drafters of consumer form contracts. In earlier drafts, one part of the section applied to both to commercial contracts and consumer contracts. It required that "one manifest assent" to any form contract, commercial or consumer, in order for it to be binding.2 Bowing to commercial opposition in the most recent version, the drafters have omitted all reference to commercial contracts. As the section stands, it applies only to consumer ...


Tax Transitions, Opportunistic Retroactivity, And The Benefits Of Government Precommitment, Kyle D. Logue Jan 1996

Tax Transitions, Opportunistic Retroactivity, And The Benefits Of Government Precommitment, Kyle D. Logue

Articles

What if the current federal income tax laws were repealed and replaced with a simple flat tax? What if the entire Internal Revenue Code (with its graduated rates and countless deductions, exclusions, and credits) were scuttled in favor of a broad-based consumption tax? Only a few years ago, such proposals would have seemed radical and extremely unlikely to be adopted. But times are changing. Calls for a drastic overhaul of the Internal Revenue Code have become commonplace, even at the highest levels in the tax-policy community. In addition, proposals that would replace the income tax with a flat-rate broad-based consumption ...