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Full-Text Articles in Law

Contract Lore As Heuristic Starting Points, Colin P. Marks May 2020

Contract Lore As Heuristic Starting Points, Colin P. Marks

Faculty Articles

What Professor Hillman labels as lore are better thought of as a series of heuristic starting points. I do not label them heuristics in and of themselves as they do not represent shortcuts to the ultimate answer. But, as I explain, all of the areas that Professor Hillman identifies as lore are actually quite nuanced, sometimes filled with exceptions; other times, they simply represent the first step in a long inquiry. Heuristics as a teaching device has been recognized in law and other disciplines as an effective tool in not only conveying information, but also prodding the student to conduct ...


Contract Interpretation And The Parol Evidence Rule: Toward Conceptual Clarification, Joshua M. Silverstein Jan 2020

Contract Interpretation And The Parol Evidence Rule: Toward Conceptual Clarification, Joshua M. Silverstein

Faculty Scholarship

Contract interpretation is one of the most important topics in commercial law. Unfortunately, the law of interpretation is extraordinarily convoluted. In essentially every American state, the jurisprudence is riddled with inconsistency and ambiguity. This causes multiple problems. Contracting parties are forced to expend additional resources when negotiating and drafting agreements. Disputes over contractual meaning are more likely to end up in litigation. And courts make a greater number of errors in the interpretive process. Together, these impacts result in significant unfairness and undermine economic efficiency. Efforts to remedy the doctrinal incoherence are thus warranted.

The goal of this Article is ...


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 prevalent penal ...


The Fatal Leviathan: A Hayekian Perspective Of Lex Mercatoria In Civil Law Countries, Fabio Núñez Del Prado Ch. Oct 2019

The Fatal Leviathan: A Hayekian Perspective Of Lex Mercatoria In Civil Law Countries, Fabio Núñez Del Prado Ch.

Pace International Law Review

Who should create default commercial rules? Should they be created in a constructivist way or should they be created rather through a spontaneous order? Should Kelsen’s positivism prevail in commercial law? Drawing on diverse libertarian literature, I will argue that, since courts do not play a dominant role in civil law countries and, more importantly, do not set precedents, default commercial rules should not be created by the legislator, but through the Lex Mercatoria.



Using The West Key Number System As A Data Collection And Coding Device For Empirical Legal Scholarship: Demonstrating The Method Via A Study Of Contract Interpretation, Joshua M. Silverstein Jan 2016

Using The West Key Number System As A Data Collection And Coding Device For Empirical Legal Scholarship: Demonstrating The Method Via A Study Of Contract Interpretation, Joshua M. Silverstein

Faculty Scholarship

Empirical research is an increasingly important type of legal scholarship. Such research generally requires the collection and coding of large quantities of data. These tasks pose critical challenges for legal scholars. Most crucially, they are often resource-intensive. The primary purpose of this article is to explain how researchers can use the West Key Number System to dramatically streamline the process of data collection and coding. The article accomplishes this, in part, through a demonstration: it employs the Key Number System to conduct an empirical study of contract interpretation.

Contract interpretation is one of the most significant areas of commercial law ...


Contractual Arbitrage, Stephen J. Choi, G. Mitu Gulati, Robert E. Scott Jan 2016

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

Faculty Scholarship

Contracts are inevitably incomplete. And standard-form or boilerplate commercial contracts are especially likely to be incomplete because they are approximations; they are not tailored to the needs of particular deals. Not only do these contracts contain gaps but, in an attempt to reduce incompleteness, they often contain clauses with vague or ambiguous terms. Terms with indeterminate meaning present opportunities for strategic behavior well after a contract has been concluded. 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, ex ...


Contract Resurrected! Contract Formation: Common Law – Ucc – Cisg, Sarah Howard Jenkins Jan 2015

Contract Resurrected! Contract Formation: Common Law – Ucc – Cisg, Sarah Howard Jenkins

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Contract Design And The Shading Problem, Robert E. Scott Jan 2015

Contract Design And The Shading Problem, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Despite recent advances in our understanding of contracting behavior, economic contract theory has yet to identify the principal causes and effects of contract breach. In this Essay, I argue that opportunism is a primary explanation for why commercial parties deliberately breach their contracts. I develop a novel variation on opportunism that I identify as “shading;” a behavior that more accurately describes the vexing problems courts face in rooting out strategic behavior in contract litigation. I provide some empirical support for the claim that shading behavior is both pervasive in litigation over contract breach and extremely difficult for generalist courts to ...


Summary Of Century Sur. Co. V. Casino W., Inc., 130 Adv. Nev. Op. 42, Michael Paretti May 2014

Summary Of Century Sur. Co. V. Casino W., Inc., 130 Adv. Nev. Op. 42, Michael Paretti

Nevada Supreme Court Summaries

The court determined whether two distinct provisions of an insurance policy regarding air pollution were subject to multiple reasonable interpretations.


Say What? The Resolution Of Ambiguous Written Agreements In West Virginia, James Matthew Davis Apr 2014

Say What? The Resolution Of Ambiguous Written Agreements In West Virginia, James Matthew Davis

West Virginia Law Review

No abstract provided.


Text And Context: Contract Interpretation As Contract Design, Ronald J. Gilson, Charles F. Sabel, Robert E. Scott Jan 2014

Text And Context: Contract Interpretation As Contract Design, Ronald J. Gilson, Charles F. Sabel, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Contract interpretation remains the most important source of commercial litigation and the most contentious area of contemporary contract doctrine and scholarship. Two polar positions have competed for dominance in contract interpretation. In a textualist regime, generalist courts cannot consider context; in a contextualist regime, they must. Underlying this dispute are contrary assumptions about the prototypical contract each interpretive style addresses. For modern textualists, contracts are bespoke, between legally sophisticated parties who embed as much or as little of the contractual context as they wish in an integrated writing and prefer to protect their choices against judicial interference by an interpretive ...


Indiana Jones, Contracts Originalist, W. Mark C. Weidemaier Dec 2013

Indiana Jones, Contracts Originalist, W. Mark C. Weidemaier

W. Mark C. Weidemaier

The process of drafting a contract can be routine, almost automated. Over a long enough time, lawyers may stop paying attention to contract language or even forget why it is there. The problem is acute with standard-form contracts and perhaps especially so with financial contracts such as sovereign bonds. How should courts interpret contract language when neither the parties, nor their lawyers, nor any other relevant player in the market can credibly explain what it does? This essay addresses this question in the context of one of the most contested interpretive questions in modern international finance: the meaning of the ...


Public Lands And The Federal Government’S Compact-Based “Duty To Dispose”: A Case Study Of Utah’S H.B. 148 – The Transfer Of Public Lands Act, Donald J. Kochan Dec 2013

Public Lands And The Federal Government’S Compact-Based “Duty To Dispose”: A Case Study Of Utah’S H.B. 148 – The Transfer Of Public Lands Act, Donald J. Kochan

Donald J. Kochan

Recent legislation passed in March 2012 in the State of Utah — the “Transfer of Public Lands Act and Related Study,” (“TPLA”) also commonly referred to as House Bill 148 (“H.B. 148”) — has demanded that the federal government, by December 31, 2014, “extinguish title” to certain public lands that the federal government currently holds (totaling an estimated more than 20 million acres). It also calls for the transfer of such acreage to the State and establishes procedures for the development of a management regime for this increased state portfolio of land holdings resulting from the transfer. The State of Utah ...


Hypothetical Efficiency Is Not Grounds For Breach, Daniel M. Isaacs Sep 2013

Hypothetical Efficiency Is Not Grounds For Breach, Daniel M. Isaacs

West Virginia Law Review

The law does not approve of the efficient breach of contract; it merely provides or fails to provide remedies. Although there are situations where the law implies contract terms, there is no basis for an implied covenant of efficiency. Hypothetical contracts, purporting to incorporate a release where the cost of performance to the promisor exceeds its value to the promisee, cannot be used to bind people to results, even efficient ones, to which they did not agree. Where it is inefficient to demand performance, flexibility should come from the promisee who, having received in trust the power to limit the ...


Parallel Contract, Aditi Bagchi Feb 2012

Parallel Contract, Aditi Bagchi

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Article describes a new model of contract. In parallel contract, one party enters into a series of contracts with many similarly situated individuals on background terms that are presumptively identical. Parallel contracts depart from the classical model of contract in two fundamental ways. First, obligations are not robustly dyadic in that they are neither tailored to the two parties to a given agreement nor understood by those parties by way of communications with each other. Second, obligations are not fixed at a discrete moment of contract. Parallel contracts should be interpreted differently than agreements more consistent with the classic ...


The Promise Principle And Contract Interpretation: A Suggested Approach For Maximizing Value, Juliet P. Kostritsky Jan 2012

The Promise Principle And Contract Interpretation: A Suggested Approach For Maximizing Value, Juliet P. Kostritsky

Faculty Publications

The promise principle and its roots in a certain type of morality of individual obligation, which play the central role in Charles Fried’s vision of Contract law, have importantly contributed to rescuing Contract law from absorption into Tort law and from the imposition of externally imposed standards that are collective in origin. It makes a mammoth contribution to alerting us to the tyranny of interference with individual self-determination. However, this essay questions whether a promise centered system derived from a moral philosophy of promising (without an observable and testable foundation in reality) and geared to internal individual obligation and ...


Sifre V. Sifre, Victoria Rosner Jan 2011

Sifre V. Sifre, Victoria Rosner

NYLS Law Review

No abstract provided.


Is A Burrito A Sandwich? Exploring Race, Class, And Culture In Contracts, Marjorie Florestal Jan 2008

Is A Burrito A Sandwich? Exploring Race, Class, And Culture In Contracts, Marjorie Florestal

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

A superior court in Worcester, Massachusetts, recently determined that a burrito is not a sandwich. Surprisingly, the decision sparked a firestorm of media attention. Worcester, Massachusetts, is hardly the pinnacle of the culinary arts-so why all the interest in the musings of one lone judge on the nature of burritos and sandwiches? Closer inspection revealed the allure of this otherwise peculiar case: Potentially thousands of dollars turned on the interpretation of a single word in a single clause of a commercial contract. Judge Locke based his decision on "common sense" and a single definition of sandwich-"two thin pieces of ...


Plain Meaning Vs. Broad Interpretation: How The Risk Of Opportunism Defeats A Unitary Default Rule For Interpretation, Juliet P. Kostritsky Jan 2007

Plain Meaning Vs. Broad Interpretation: How The Risk Of Opportunism Defeats A Unitary Default Rule For Interpretation, Juliet P. Kostritsky

Kentucky Law Journal

No abstract provided.


Plain Meaning Vs. Broad Interpretation: How The Risk Of Opportunism Defeats A Unitary Default Rule For Interpretation, Juliet P. Kostritsky Jan 2007

Plain Meaning Vs. Broad Interpretation: How The Risk Of Opportunism Defeats A Unitary Default Rule For Interpretation, Juliet P. Kostritsky

Faculty Publications

The problem of contract interpretation presents courts with significant questions about the nature and methodology of judicial intervention into privately arranged affairs. The court often assumes an active role in interpreting the words of a written contract in part because words have more than one meaning or because a contract is incomplete. When a court chooses amongst variable meanings, or interprets contracts to craft limitations on parties' behavior when express limits do not exist, its choice must be then justified using a framework explored in this essay.

Traditionally, commentators have advocated one of two general approaches to supply the methodology ...


Good Faith In The Cisg: Interpretation Problems In Article 7, Benedict C. Sheehy Aug 2004

Good Faith In The Cisg: Interpretation Problems In Article 7, Benedict C. Sheehy

ExpressO

ABSTRACT: This article examines the dispute concerning the meaning of Good Faith in the CISG. Although there are good reasons for arguing a more limited interpretation or more limited application of Good Faith, there are also good reasons for a broader approach. Regardless of the correct interpretation, however, practitioners and academics need to have a sense of where the actual jurisprudence is going. This article reviews every published case on Article 7 since its inception and concludes that while there is little to suggest a strong pattern is developing, a guided pattern while incorrect doctrinally is preferable to the current ...


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 ...


The Relative Costs Of Incorporating Trade Usage Into Domestic Versus International Sales Contracts, Avery W. Katz Jan 2004

The Relative Costs Of Incorporating Trade Usage Into Domestic Versus International Sales Contracts, Avery W. Katz

Faculty Scholarship

This Comment expands upon Clayton Gillette's defense of Article 8(2) of the Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG), which directs tribunals to incorporate international trade usage into private contracts governed by the Convention, unless the parties agree otherwise. The Comment attempts to offer a more robust and systematic account of when substantive interpretative doctrines such as trade usage might be desirable, as well as why such doctrines appear to be especially useful in the transnational setting of the CISG. It argues that Gillette's account is incomplete because he does not provide an explanation of why ...


'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.


The Relative Costs Of Incorporating Trade Usage Into Domestic Versus International Sales Contracts: Comments On Clayton Gillette, Institutional Design And International Usages Under The Cisg, Avery W. Katz Jan 2004

The Relative Costs Of Incorporating Trade Usage Into Domestic Versus International Sales Contracts: Comments On Clayton Gillette, Institutional Design And International Usages Under The Cisg, Avery W. Katz

Faculty Scholarship

Clayton Gillette's paper on the use of trade usage in reported disputes arising under the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods ("CISG") presents a challenge to recent scholarly critiques of modern contractual interpretation. As Gillette explains, much recent writing by economically influenced US scholars in contracts and commercial law has argued in favor of more formalistic methods of interpretation, and against the overwhelming trend of the last half of the twentieth century: a trend toward a more contextual interpretative approach that takes into account a variety of evidence, including the business purpose of the ...


Contract Lore, Robert A. Hillman Jul 2003

Contract Lore, Robert A. Hillman

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


The Economics Of Form And Substance In Contract Interpretation, Avery W. Katz Jan 2003

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

Faculty Scholarship

For the past 100 years or so the historical trend in the law of contracts has been to water down formal interpretive doctrines in favor of a more all-things-considered analysis of what the parties may have meant or what justice might require in the individual case. This trend away from formal and toward substantive interpretation of contracts has been alternately celebrated and criticized for over a century; and in recent years, a number of economically influenced scholars, in translating some of the classic arguments into economic language, have helped to clarify some of the traditional commentators' concerns. While this new ...


Contract Lore, Robert A. Hillman Jul 2002

Contract Lore, Robert A. Hillman

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The article investigates why contracts lawyers, judges, and theorists ("contracts people") routinely and confidently invoke "traditional beliefs" about contract law that are not even close to true. For example, contracts people often declare that the purpose of expectancy damages is to put the injured party in as good a position as if the contract had been performed. But expectancy damages virtually never do this. Contracts people also recite that the reasons for breach, whether willful, negligent or unavoidable, do not matter, and that formation and interpretation issues focus on the parties' intentions. Neither of these assertions is close to true ...


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.


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 ...