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Contractual Landmines, Robert E. Scott, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati Jan 2024

Contractual Landmines, Robert E. Scott, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

Conventional wisdom is that the standardized boilerplate terms used in large commercial markets survive unchanged because they are an optimal solution to the contracting problems facing parties in these markets. As Smith and Warner explained, “harmful heuristics, like harmful mutations, will die out.” But an examination of a sample of current sovereign bond contracts reveals numerous instances of harmful landmines — some are deliberate changes to standard language that increase a creditor’s nonpayment risk, others are blatant drafting errors, and yet others are inapt terms that have been carelessly imported from corporate transactions. Moreover, these landmines differ from each other …


Expert Insights On Best Practices For Community Benefits Agreements, Matthew Eisenson, Romany M. Webb Sep 2023

Expert Insights On Best Practices For Community Benefits Agreements, Matthew Eisenson, Romany M. Webb

Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

This report outlines 35 recommendations for developers and host communities when negotiating and drafting Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) for direct air capture hubs and other clean energy projects. These recommendations come from interviews with attorneys and other experts who have collectively negotiated dozens of CBAs for climate infrastructure and other types of projects.


Specific Performance: On Freedom And Commitment In Contract Law, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller Jan 2023

Specific Performance: On Freedom And Commitment In Contract Law, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller

Faculty Scholarship

When should specific performance be available for breach of contract? This question — at the core of contract — divides common-law and civil-law jurisdictions and it has bedeviled generations of comparativists, along with legal economists, historians, and philosophers. Yet none of these disciplines has provided a persuasive answer. This Article provides a normatively attractive and conceptually coherent account, one grounded in respect for the autonomy of the promisor’s future self. Properly understood, autonomy explains why expectation damages should be the ordinary remedy for contract breach. This same normative commitment justifies the “uniqueness exception,” where specific performance is typically awarded, and …


Can Contract Emancipate? Contract Theory And The Law Of Work, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller Jan 2023

Can Contract Emancipate? Contract Theory And The Law Of Work, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller

Faculty Scholarship

Contract and employment law have grown apart. Long ago, each side gave up on the other. In this Article, we re-unite them to the betterment of both. In brief, we demonstrate the emancipatory potential of contract for the law of work.

Today, the dominant contract theories assume a widget transaction between substantively equal parties. If this were an accurate description of what contract is, then contract law would be right to expel workers. Worker protections would indeed be better regulated by – and relegated to – employment and labor law. But contract law is not what contract theorists claim. Neither …


Contract Production In M&A Markets, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati, Matthew Jennejohn, Robert E. Scott Jan 2023

Contract Production In M&A Markets, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati, Matthew Jennejohn, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Contract scholarship has devoted considerable attention to how contract terms are designed to incentivize parties to fulfill their obligations. Less attention has been paid to the production of contracts and the tradeoffs between using boilerplate terms and designing bespoke provisions. In thick markets everyone uses the standard form despite the known drawbacks of boilerplate. But in thinner markets, such as the private deal M&A world, parties trade off costs and benefits of using standard provisions and customizing clauses. This Article reports on a case study of contract production in the M&A markets. We find evidence of an informal information network …


Contractual Evolution, Matthew Jennejohn, Julian Nyarko, Eric L. Talley Jan 2022

Contractual Evolution, Matthew Jennejohn, Julian Nyarko, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Conventional wisdom portrays contracts as static distillations of parties’ shared intent at some discrete point in time. In reality, however, contract terms evolve in response to their environments, including new laws, legal interpretations, and economic shocks. While several legal scholars have offered stylized accounts of this evolutionary process, we still lack a coherent, general theory that broadly captures the dynamics of real-world contracting practice. This paper advances such a theory, in which the evolution of contract terms is a byproduct of several key features, including efficiency concerns, information, and sequential learning by attorneys who negotiate several deals over time. Each …


Twitter V. Musk: The "Trial Of The Century" That Wasn't, Ann M. Lipton, Eric L. Talley Jan 2022

Twitter V. Musk: The "Trial Of The Century" That Wasn't, Ann M. Lipton, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

The months-long saga over Elon Musk's on-again, off-again acquisition of Twitter provided considerable entertainment for lawyers and laypeople alike. But for those of us who teach business law, it also provided a unique (and in certain ways, vexing) opportunity to show real-time examples of the legal principles that are the grist for courses in contracts, corporations, corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions.

Both of us found ourselves incorporating the saga into our classroom discussions, which in turn informed our own thinking about how the dynamic played out. Although we were both relatively active on social media (indeed on Twitter itself) …


Obsolescence: The Intractable Production Problem In Contract Law, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott Jan 2021

Obsolescence: The Intractable Production Problem In Contract Law, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Contract law has long suffered from an institutional problem: Which legal institution can best create an efficient law for commercial contracts that can overcome "obsolescence” – the persistence of rules that only solve yesterday’s contracting problems? Until the early 20th century, contract law was largely created by common law courts. The law's default rules were efficient when created and courts updated them as commerce changed. But there were few rules and the common law process is slow. In response, the 20th century saw public and private lawmaking bodies enact commercial statutes in discrete legal areas such as secured credit, commercial …


Investigating The Contract Production Process, Stephen J. Choi, Robert E. Scott, G. Mitu Gulati Jan 2021

Investigating The Contract Production Process, Stephen J. Choi, Robert E. Scott, G. Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

Contract law and theory have traditionally paid little attention to the processes by which contracts are made. Instead, contracts among sophisticated parties are assumed to be full articulations of the desires of the parties; whatever the process, the outcome is the same. This article compares sovereign debt contracts from US and UK firms, with different production processes, that are trying to do the same thing under very similar legal regimes. We find that that the production process likely matters quite a bit to the final form that contracts take.


Incorporating Free, Prior And Informed Consent (Fpic) Into Investment Approval Processes, Kelly Dudine, Sam Szoke-Burke Jul 2020

Incorporating Free, Prior And Informed Consent (Fpic) Into Investment Approval Processes, Kelly Dudine, Sam Szoke-Burke

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Investment approval processes are the gateway through which governments set the agenda for their country’s investment environment. Yet too often these processes fail to incorporate meaningful requirements regarding participation in decision-making by Indigenous and other affected communities, increasing the risk of under-performing and conflict-ridden investments.

Enabling meaningful participation by rights holders and obtaining and maintaining their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) throughout different investment approval processes can help governments to fulfill their legal obligations, mitigate financial and political risk, and, ultimately, attract more sustainable land-based investments.

Featuring concrete guidance and drawing on case studies from Kenya, Liberia, Mexico, Peru, …


Mechanisms For Consultation And Free, Prior And Informed Consent In The Negotiation Of Investment Contracts, Sam Szoke-Burke, Kaitlin Y. Cordes Jun 2020

Mechanisms For Consultation And Free, Prior And Informed Consent In The Negotiation Of Investment Contracts, Sam Szoke-Burke, Kaitlin Y. Cordes

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Investor-state contracts are regularly used in low-and middle-income countries to grant concessions for land-based and natural resource investments, such as agricultural, extractive industry, forestry, or renewable energy projects. These contracts are rarely negotiated in the presence of, or with meaningful input from, the people who risk being adversely affected by the project. This practice will usually risk violating requirements for meaningful consultation, and, where applicable, free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), and is particularly concerning when the investor-state contract gives the investor company rights to lands or resources over which local communities have legitimate claims.

This article explores how consultation …


Law In The Time Of Covid-19, Katharina Pistor Apr 2020

Law In The Time Of Covid-19, Katharina Pistor

Faculty Books

The COVID-19 crisis has ended and upended lives around the globe. In addition to killing over 160,000 people, more than 35,000 in the United States alone, its secondary effects have been as devastating. These secondary effects pose fundamental challenges to the rules that govern our social, political, and economic lives. These rules are the domain of lawyers. Law in the Time of COVID-19 is the product of a joint effort by members of the faculty of Columbia Law School and several law professors from other schools.

This volume offers guidance for thinking about some the most pressing legal issues the …


On Trust, Law, And Expecting The Worst, Elizabeth F. Emens Jan 2020

On Trust, Law, And Expecting The Worst, Elizabeth F. Emens

Faculty Scholarship

This Review has three parts. Part I aims to convey something of the breadth and interest of Hasday’s fascinating new book, foregrounding the role of gender and beginning to touch the subject of trust. Part II delves briefly but widely into the theme of trust, which pervades the book and invites further examination. Part III presents a framework that combines affective trust and epistemic curiosity and applies this framework to illuminate and sort Hasday’s proposals for reform; to critique a recent, dramatic change in the evidentiary treatment of marital confidences; and to devise a novel approach to prenuptial agreements. Throughout, …


Picking The Low-Hanging Fruit: A Short Essay For Michael Klausner, Ronald J. Gilson Jan 2020

Picking The Low-Hanging Fruit: A Short Essay For Michael Klausner, Ronald J. Gilson

Faculty Scholarship

The articles that comprise this issue of the Journal of Corporation Law were first presented at a conference held at the Wharton School and co-sponsored by Wharton together with Columbia and Stanford Law Schools. The event was organized by my friend Peter Conti-Brown, to whom I am grateful for both the thought and the effort. Standing alone, the thought that the conference was warranted would have been extremely generous. However, anyone who has organized a conference knows that the idea for such events can be exciting, but what follows is an amount of work that had it been anticipated would …


The Economics Of Leasing, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 2020

The Economics Of Leasing, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

Leasing may be the most important legal institution that has received virtually no systematic scholarly attention. Real property leasing is familiar in the context of residential tenancies. But it is also widely used in commercial contexts, including office buildings and shopping centers. Personal property leasing, which was rarely encountered before World War II, has more recently exploded on a world-wide basis, with everything from autos to farm equipment to airplanes being leased. This article seeks to develop a composite picture of the defining features of leases and why leasing is such a widespread and highly successful economic institution. The reasons …


Revising Boilerplate: A Comparison Of Private And Public Company Transactions, Stephen J. Choi, Robert E. Scott, G. Mitu Gulati Jan 2020

Revising Boilerplate: A Comparison Of Private And Public Company Transactions, Stephen J. Choi, Robert E. Scott, G. Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

The textbook model of commercial contracts between sophisticated parties holds that terms are proposed, negotiated and ultimately priced by the parties. Parties reach agreement on contract provisions that best suit their transaction with the goal of maximizing the joint surplus from the contract. The reality, of course, is that the majority of the provisions in contemporary commercial contracts are boilerplate terms derived from prior transactions and even the most sophisticated contracting parties pay little attention to these standard terms, focusing instead on the price of the transaction. With standard-form or boilerplate contracts, this dynamic of replicating by rote the terms …


Foreign Contracts And U.S. Copyright Termination Rights: What Law Applies? – Comment, Richard Arnold, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2020

Foreign Contracts And U.S. Copyright Termination Rights: What Law Applies? – Comment, Richard Arnold, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

The U.S. Copyright Act gives authors the right to terminate assignments of copyrights in works other than works for hire executed on or after 1 January 1978 after 35 years, and to do so notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary. Given that agreements which are subject to the laws of other countries can assign U.S. copyrights, and purport to do so in perpetuity, U.S. law’s preclusion of agreements contrary to the author’s right to exercise her termination right can give rise to a difficult choice of law issue. Two recent cases which came before courts in the U.S. and England …


Rule By Data: The End Of Markets?, Katharina Pistor Jan 2020

Rule By Data: The End Of Markets?, Katharina Pistor

Faculty Scholarship

This Article explores data as a source and, in their processed variant, as a means of governance that will likely replace both markets and the law. Discussing data not as an object of transactions or an object of governance, but as a tool for governing others on a scale that rivals that of nation states with their law, seems a fitting topic for a special issue that is devoted to the legal construction of markets. Here, I argue that while it may well be the case that law constitutes markets, markets are not the only way in which economic relations …


Anticipating Venezuela's Debt Crisis: Hidden Holdouts And The Problem Of Pricing Collective Action Clauses, Robert E. Scott, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati Jan 2020

Anticipating Venezuela's Debt Crisis: Hidden Holdouts And The Problem Of Pricing Collective Action Clauses, Robert E. Scott, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

A creditor who asks for stronger enforcement rights upon its debtor’s default will rationally accept a lower interest rate reflecting the greater expected recovery the exercise of those rights provides. Over a dozen studies, however, have failed to document this basic relationship in the context of the collective action clause, a key provision in sovereign bonds. We conjecture that this failure is because enforcing the rights in question requires collective decision-making among anonymous creditors with different interests, impeding market predictions regarding future price effects. The pricing of rights that require collective enforcement thus turns on whether the market observes an …


The Case Against Equity In American Contract Law, Jody S. Kraus, Robert E. Scott Jan 2020

The Case Against Equity In American Contract Law, Jody S. Kraus, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

The American common law of contracts appears to direct courts to decide contract disputes by considering two opposing points of view: the ex ante perspective of the parties’ intent at the time of formation, and the ex post perspective of justice and fairness to the parties at the time of adjudication. Despite the black letter authority for both perspectives, the ex post perspective cannot withstand scrutiny. Contract doctrines taking the ex post perspective – such as the penalty, just compensation, and forfeiture doctrines – were created by equity in the early common law to police against abuses of the then …


Some Issues On The Law Of Direct Damages (Us And Uk), Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2020

Some Issues On The Law Of Direct Damages (Us And Uk), Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

When a contract is breached, both U.S. and U.K. law provide that the non-breaching party should be made whole. The Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) provides that “[t]he remedies provided by this Act shall be liberally administered to the end that the aggrieved party may be put in as good a position as if the other party had fully performed.” The English version, going back to Robinson v. Harman, is “that where a party sustains a loss by reason of breach of contract, he is, so far as money can do it, to be placed in the same situation, with …


Innovation Versus Encrustation: Agency Costs In Contract Reproduction, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati, Robert E. Scott Jan 2020

Innovation Versus Encrustation: Agency Costs In Contract Reproduction, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This article studies the impact of exogenous legal change on whether and how lawyers across four different deal types revise their contracts’ governing law clauses in order to solve the problem that the legal change created. The governing law clause is present in practically every contract across a wide range of industries and, in particular, it appears in deals as disparate as private equity M&A transactions and sovereign bond issuances. Properly drafted, the clause increases the ex ante economic value of the contract to both parties by reducing uncertainty and litigation risk. We posit that different levels of agency costs …


Contractual Arbitrage, Stephen J. Choi, G. Mitu Gulati, Robert E. Scott Jan 2020

Contractual Arbitrage, Stephen J. Choi, G. Mitu Gulati, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Standard-form contracts are likely to be incomplete because they are not tailored to the needs of particular deals. In an attempt to reduce incompleteness, standard-form contracts often contain clauses with vague or ambiguous terms. Terms with indeterminate meaning present opportunities for strategic behavior well after a contract has been executed. This linguistic uncertainty in standard-form commercial contracts creates an opportunity for “contractual arbitrage”: parties may argue ex post that the uncertainties in expression mean something that the contracting parties did not contemplate ex ante. This chapter argues that the scope for contractual arbitrage is a direct function of the techniques …


Legal Frameworks & Foreign Investment: A Primer On Governments’ Obligations, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lise Johnson, Sam Szoke-Burke, Rumbidzaii Mawen Nov 2019

Legal Frameworks & Foreign Investment: A Primer On Governments’ Obligations, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lise Johnson, Sam Szoke-Burke, Rumbidzaii Mawen

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Legal frameworks, and how they interact, are often invisible in the day to day. Yet they are powerful forces that influence government actions and that help to shape who benefits and who loses from foreign investment. Understanding these legal frameworks, and how they interact, is critical for anyone concerned with how foreign investment can be better harnessed to support, rather than weaken, sustainable development and human rights.

This primer provides a brief overview of host government obligations under international investment law, international human rights law, domestic law, and relevant investor-state contracts. It also highlights some of the ways in which …


The Limits Of Smart Contracts, Jens Frankenreiter Jan 2019

The Limits Of Smart Contracts, Jens Frankenreiter

Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership

This essay investigates the potential of smart contracts to replace the legal system as an infrastructure for transactions. It argues that (contract) law remains relevant for most transactions even if they are entirely structured by way of smart contract. The reason for this is that the power of smart contracts to create and enforce obligations against attempts by the legal system to thwart their execution is limited. These limitations are most relevant for obligations to perform certain actions outside the blockchain, but also apply to other obligations contingent on facts outside the records stored on the blockchain.


Choice Theory: A Restatement, Michael A. Heller, Hanoch Dagan Jan 2019

Choice Theory: A Restatement, Michael A. Heller, Hanoch Dagan

Faculty Scholarship

This chapter restates choice theory, which advances a liberal approach to contract law. First, we refine the concept of autonomy for contract. Then we address range, limit, and floor, three principles that together justify contract law in a liberal society. The first concerns the state’s obligation to be proactive in facilitating the availability of a multiplicity of contract types. The second refers to the respect contract law owes to the autonomy of a party’s future self, that is, to the ability to re-write the story of one’s life. The final principle concerns relational justice, the baseline for any legitimate use …


Divergence And Convergence At The Intersection Of Property And Contract, Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci, Carmine Guerriero Jan 2019

Divergence And Convergence At The Intersection Of Property And Contract, Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci, Carmine Guerriero

Faculty Scholarship

In this Article, we study rules that solve the conflict between the original owner and an innocent buyer of a stolen or embezzled good. These rules balance the protection of the original owner’s property and the buyer’s reliance on contractual exchange, thereby addressing a fundamental legal and economic trade-off. Our analysis is based on a unique, hand-collected dataset on the rules in force in 126 countries. Using this data, we document and explain two conflicting trends. There is a large amount of first-order divergence: both rules that apply to stolen goods and those that apply to embezzled goods vary widely …


Three By Posner, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2019

Three By Posner, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

If Richard Posner did not invent the term “efficient breach,” he at least was its most aggressive marketer. I confess that nowadays I do not find the concept particularly useful, but that does not detract from its value. It was a catalyst, forcing scholars to consider the economic function of contract remedies. Any assessment of Judge Posner’s contracts jurisprudence must acknowledge that contribution.

In this paper, I will consider three of his opinions that appear with some regularity in contracts casebooks – Northern Indiana Public Service Company v. Carbon County Coal Company, Empire Gas v. American Bakeries, and Lake River …


Freedom, Choice, And Contracts, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller Jan 2019

Freedom, Choice, And Contracts, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller

Faculty Scholarship

In “The Choice Theory of Contracts,” we explain contractual freedom and celebrate the plurality of contract types. Here, we reply to critics by refining choice theory and showing how it fits and shapes what we term the “Contract Canon”.

I. Freedom. (1) Charles Fried challenges our account of Kantian autonomy, but his views, we show, largely converge with choice theory. (2) Nathan Oman argues for a commerce-enhancing account of autonomy. We counter that he arbitrarily slights noncommercial spheres central to human interaction. (3) Yitzhak Benbaji suggests that choice theory’s commitment to autonomy is overly perfectionist. Happily, in response to Benbaji, …


Governing Land Investments: Do Governments Have Legal Support Gaps?, Sam Szoke-Burke, Kaitlin Y. Cordes Aug 2018

Governing Land Investments: Do Governments Have Legal Support Gaps?, Sam Szoke-Burke, Kaitlin Y. Cordes

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

In the wave of efforts to encourage and support more “responsible” land investments, one aspect has been largely overlooked: are governments equipped with the legal and technical support needed to effectively negotiate and conclude investment contracts that lead to responsible outcomes?

CCSI researched how host governments access legal support in the planning, negotiation, and monitoring of land investments, with a view to better understanding where legal support gaps for governments exist, and how these can be addressed by governments themselves, as well as by donors, support providers and investors.

By scrutinizing “legal support gaps,” CCSI sought to identify possible weak …