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Contract theory

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Can Contract Emancipate? Contract Theory And The Law Of Work, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller Jan 2021

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 is contract ...


Contract Design, Default Rules, And Delaware Corporate Law, Jeffrey Manns, Robert Anderson Jul 2020

Contract Design, Default Rules, And Delaware Corporate Law, Jeffrey Manns, Robert Anderson

Washington and Lee Law Review

Incomplete contract theory recognizes that contracts cannot be comprehensive and that state law necessarily has to fill in gaps when conflicts arise. The more complex the transaction, the more that lawyers face practical constraints that force them to limit the scope of drafting and broadly rely on legal defaults and open-ended terms to plug holes and address contingencies. In theory Delaware law serves as lawyers’ preferred jurisdiction and forum for merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions and other high-end corporate deals because of the state’s superior default rules for corporate law and its judiciary’s expertise in discerning the ...


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 ...


Contract Damages, Moral Agency, And Henry James’ The Ambassadors, Jennifer Nadler Aug 2019

Contract Damages, Moral Agency, And Henry James’ The Ambassadors, Jennifer Nadler

Jennifer Nadler

This paper enters the dispute over the proper interpretation of the expectation measure of damages in contract law. Should damages be measured by the plaintiff’s financial loss or by the cost of acquiring a substitute performance (“cost of cure”)? I begin by presenting a moral (as opposed to an economic or a pragmatic) justification for the traditional contract principle that a plaintiff has a right to compensation for the financial loss flowing from breach but no right to performance. I do so by showing that implicit in the principle that the plaintiff has a right to compensation for financial ...


Contract Damages, Moral Agency, And Henry James’ The Ambassadors, Jennifer Nadler Jan 2019

Contract Damages, Moral Agency, And Henry James’ The Ambassadors, Jennifer Nadler

Articles & Book Chapters

This paper enters the dispute over the proper interpretation of the expectation measure of damages in contract law. Should damages be measured by the plaintiff’s financial loss or by the cost of acquiring a substitute performance (“cost of cure”)? I begin by presenting a moral (as opposed to an economic or a pragmatic) justification for the traditional contract principle that a plaintiff has a right to compensation for the financial loss flowing from breach but no right to performance. I do so by showing that implicit in the principle that the plaintiff has a right to compensation for financial ...


Parol Evidence Rules And The Mechanics Of Choice, Gregory Klass Jan 2019

Parol Evidence Rules And The Mechanics Of Choice, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Scholars have to date paid relatively little attention to the rules for deciding when a writing is integrated. These integration rules, however, are as dark and full of subtle difficulties as are other parts of parol evidence rules. As a way of thinking about Hanoch Dagan and Michael Heller’s The Choice Theory of Contracts, this Article suggests we would do better with tailored integration rules for two transaction types. In negotiated contracts between firms, courts should apply a hard express integration rule, requiring firms to say when they intend a writing to be integrated. In consumer contracts, standard terms ...


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 ...


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 ...


The Choice Theory Of Contracts (Introduction), Hanoch Dagan, Michael Heller Jan 2017

The Choice Theory Of Contracts (Introduction), Hanoch Dagan, Michael Heller

Faculty Scholarship

This concise landmark in law and jurisprudence offers the first coherent, liberal account of contract law. "The Choice Theory of Contracts" answers the field's most pressing questions: What is the “freedom” in “freedom of contract”? What core values animate contract law and how do those values interrelate? How must the state act when it shapes contract law? Hanoch Dagan and Michael Heller show exactly why and how freedom matters to contract. They start with the most appealing tenets of modern liberalism and end with their implications for contract law. This readable, engaging book gives contract scholars, teachers, and students ...


The Law Of Society: Governance Through Contract, Peter Zumbansen Aug 2016

The Law Of Society: Governance Through Contract, Peter Zumbansen

Peer Zumbansen

This paper focuses on contract law as a central field in contemporary regulatory practice. In recent years, "governance by contract" has emerged as the central concept in the context of privatization, domestic and transnational commercial relations, and law-and-development projects. Meanwhile, as a result of the neo-formalist attack on contract law, "governance of contract" through contract adjudication, consumer protection law, and judicial intervention into private law relations has come under severe pressure. Building on early historical critique of the formalist foundations of an allegedly private law of the market, the paper assesses the current justifications for contractual governance and posits that ...


A Defense Of Judicial Reconstruction Of Contracts, Mark P. Gergen Nov 2015

A Defense Of Judicial Reconstruction Of Contracts, Mark P. Gergen

Mark P. Gergen

No abstract provided.


Contract Remedies In Action: Specific Performance, Yonathan A. Arbel Sep 2015

Contract Remedies In Action: Specific Performance, Yonathan A. Arbel

West Virginia Law Review

No abstract provided.


Contract Theory And The Failures Of Public-Private Contracting, Wendy Netter Epstein May 2015

Contract Theory And The Failures Of Public-Private Contracting, Wendy Netter Epstein

Wendy Netter Epstein

The market for public-private contracting is huge and flawed. Public-private contracts for services such as prisons and welfare administration tend to result in cost savings at the sacrifice of quality service. For instance, to cut costs, private prisons skimp on security. Public law scholars have studied these problems for decades and have proposed various public law solutions. But the literature is incomplete because it does not approach the problem through a commercial lens. This Article fills that gap. It considers how economic analysis of contract law, in particular efficiency theory and agency theory, bear upon the unique problems of public-private ...


A New And Old Theory For Adjudicating Standardized Contracts, Eric Mills Holmes, Dagmar Thürmann Jan 2015

A New And Old Theory For Adjudicating Standardized Contracts, Eric Mills Holmes, Dagmar Thürmann

Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law

No abstract provided.


Promises, Trust, And Contract Law, Anthony J. Bellia May 2014

Promises, Trust, And Contract Law, Anthony J. Bellia

Anthony J. Bellia

The need for individuals to be able to trust that promises will be performed is central to justifying a law that renders certain promises enforceable. This Article argues that the legal enforcement of certain promises to meet this need does not necessarily diminish the personal relationships of trust in which such promises are made, as has been argued. Rather, this Article argues, the making and performance of legally enforceable promises can assist individuals in building relationships of trust, as it assists them in the pursuit of myriad goods.


Introduction To Philosophical Foundations Of Contract Law, Gregory Klass Mar 2014

Introduction To Philosophical Foundations Of Contract Law, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This Introduction to Philosophical Foundations of Contract Law (Gregory Klass, George Letsas & Prince Saprai eds., Oxford University Press, forthcoming) describes the field of contract theory and locates the essays in the volume within that field. The volume includes chapters from Aditi Bagchi, Randy Barnett, Lisa Bernstein, Mindy Chen-Wishart, Charles Fried, Avery Katz, Dori Kimel, Gregory Klass, George Letsas and Prince Saprai, Daniel Markovits, Liam Murphy, David Owens, J.E. Penner, Margaret Jane Radin, Joseph Raz, Stephen Smith, and Charlie Webb.


Contracting With Electronic Agents, Anthony J. Bellia Oct 2013

Contracting With Electronic Agents, Anthony J. Bellia

Anthony J. Bellia

Established contract doctrine provides no clear answer to the question whether exchanges arranged by the interaction of electronic agents are enforceable. This Article explores whether the law should enforce exchanges arranged by the interaction of electronic agents. It examine how normative theories of contractual obligation inform the issue, with an eye toward the strengths and weaknesses of each theory. The theories that most strongly support the enforcement of exchanges arranged by electronic agents, this Article explains, are those that ground contractual obligation in protecting the ability of individuals to pursue their reasonable objectives through reliable arrangements.


The Cost Of Consent: Optimal Standardization In The Law Of Contract, Joshua A.T. Fairfield Sep 2013

The Cost Of Consent: Optimal Standardization In The Law Of Contract, Joshua A.T. Fairfield

Joshua A.T. Fairfield

This article argues that informed consent to contract terms is not a good to be maximized, but is rather an information cost that courts should minimize. The goal of mass-market contract law ought to be to keep costs low by encouraging contract standardization. The article applies information cost theory to show that information-forcing rules are often inefficient at both the micro- and macroeconomic levels. Such rules also impose greater costs on third parties than the benefits they create for the contracting parties. When one consumer creates an idiosyncratic deal, the information-savings benefits of standardization are reduced for all other potential ...


Sex Matters: Considering Gender In Consumer Contracts, Amy J. Schmitz Apr 2013

Sex Matters: Considering Gender In Consumer Contracts, Amy J. Schmitz

Faculty Publications

We hear about the so-called “War on Women” and persisting salary gaps between men and women in the popular media, but contracts scholars and policymakers rarely discuss gender. Instead, dominant voices in the contracts field often reflect classical and economics-driven theories built on assumptions of gender neutral and economically rational actors. Furthermore, many mistakenly assume that market competition and antidiscrimination legislation address any improper biases in contracting. This Article therefore aims to shed light on gender’s importance by distilling data from my own e-survey of Colorado consumers along with others’ research regarding gender differences in contract outcomes, interests and ...


Contract Theory And The Failures Of Public-Private Contracting, Wendy Netter Epstein Jan 2013

Contract Theory And The Failures Of Public-Private Contracting, Wendy Netter Epstein

All Faculty Scholarship

The market for public-private contracting is huge and flawed. Public-private contracts for services such as prisons and welfare administration tend to result in cost savings at the sacrifice of quality service. For instance, to cut costs, private prisons skimp on security. Public law scholars have studied these problems for decades and have proposed various public law solutions. But the literature is incomplete because it does not approach the problem through a commercial lens. This Article fills that gap. It considers how economic analysis of contract law, in particular efficiency theory and agency theory, bear upon the unique problems of public-private ...


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 ...


La Voluntad En Los Contratos De Adhesión: Sociología Y Crítica Jurídica, Con Énfasis En El Análisis Económico Del Derecho / The Consent Theory Critique And Standard Form Contracts In Civil Law (With Special Reference To Law And Economics), Andres Palacios Lleras Dec 2011

La Voluntad En Los Contratos De Adhesión: Sociología Y Crítica Jurídica, Con Énfasis En El Análisis Económico Del Derecho / The Consent Theory Critique And Standard Form Contracts In Civil Law (With Special Reference To Law And Economics), Andres Palacios Lleras

Andrés Palacios Lleras

El presente artículo tiene como propósito sugerir los elementos básicos para (re)construir una doctrina diferente sobre la interpretación de los contratos de adhesión en Colombia, basada en las ideas de Josserand y en literatura contemporánea sobre análisis económico del derecho. La tesis que se argumenta sugiere que dichos contratos deben interpretarse teniendo en mente tanto las característias cognitivas de los adherentes, como el desequilirio de poder negocial que subyace su relación con los oferentes, y sugiere que las normas potestativas sólo puedan ser cambiadas a favor de la parte adherente.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the ...


Strategic Default: The Popularization Of A Debate Among Contract Scholars, Meredith R. Miller Nov 2011

Strategic Default: The Popularization Of A Debate Among Contract Scholars, Meredith R. Miller

Meredith R. Miller

A June 2010 report estimates that roughly 20% of mortgage defaults in the first half of 2009 were “strategic.” “Strategic default” describes the situation where a home borrower has the financial ability to continue to pay her mortgage but chooses not to pay and walks away. The ubiquity of strategic default has lead to innumerable newspaper articles, blog posts, website comments and editorial musings on the morality of homeowners who can afford to pay but choose, instead, to walk away. This Article centers on the current public discourse concerning strategic default, which mirrors a continuing debate among scholars regarding whether ...


Strategic Default: The Popularization Of A Debate Among Contract Scholars, Meredith R. Miller Apr 2011

Strategic Default: The Popularization Of A Debate Among Contract Scholars, Meredith R. Miller

Scholarly Works

A June 2010 report estimates that roughly 20% of mortgage defaults in the first half of 2009 were “strategic.” “Strategic default” describes the situation where a home borrower has the financial ability to continue to pay her mortgage but chooses not to pay and walks away. The ubiquity of strategic default has lead to innumerable newspaper articles, blog posts, website comments and editorial musings on the morality of homeowners who can afford to pay but choose, instead, to walk away. This Article centers on the current public discourse concerning strategic default, which mirrors a continuing debate among scholars regarding whether ...


A Contractual Approach To Shareholder Oppression Law, Benjamin Means Dec 2010

A Contractual Approach To Shareholder Oppression Law, Benjamin Means

Faculty Publications

According to standard law and economics, minority shareholders in closely held corporations must bargain against opportunism by controlling shareholders before investing. Put simply, you made your bed, now you must lie in it. Yet most courts offer a remedy for shareholder oppression, often premised on the notion that controlling shareholders owe fiduciary duties to the minority or must honor the minority's reasonable expectations. Thus, law and economics, the dominant mode of corporate law scholarship, appears irreconcilably opposed to minority shareholder protection, a defining feature of the existing law of close corporations.

This Article contends that a more nuanced theory ...


Where Is Emily Litella When You Need Her?: The Unsuccessful Effort To Craft A General Theory Of Obligation Of Promise For Benefit Received, Edwin J. Butterfoss, Henry Allen Blair Jan 2010

Where Is Emily Litella When You Need Her?: The Unsuccessful Effort To Craft A General Theory Of Obligation Of Promise For Benefit Received, Edwin J. Butterfoss, Henry Allen Blair

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Contract, Uncertainty And Innovation, Ronald J. Gilson, Charles F. Sabel, Robert E. Scott Jan 2010

Contract, Uncertainty And Innovation, Ronald J. Gilson, Charles F. Sabel, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Contract today increasingly links entrepreneurial innovations to the efforts and finance necessary to transform ideas into value. In this Chapter, we describe the match between a form of contract that "braids" formal and informal contractual elements in novel ways and the process by which innovation is pursued. It is hardly surprising that these innovative forms of contract have emerged first in markets, and that the common law, and the theory of contract, then play catch-up. Between the time contracting practice adapts to the demands of innovation and the time contract doctrine adapts to the demands of practice, law acts as ...


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 ...


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 contract enforcement, where performance is encouraged by the prospect of judicial intervention, and informal enforcement, where performance is motivated by the threat of lost reputation and expected future dealings or a taste for reciprocity. The incomplete contracting 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” or degrades the operation of informal contracting. Both literatures, however, focus too narrowly on formal contracts as a system of incentives for inducing parties to perform substantive actions, while assuming ...


Intent To Contract, Gregory Klass Oct 2009

Intent To Contract, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

There is a remarkable difference between black-letter contract laws of the United States and England. In England, the existence of a contract is supposedly conditioned on the parties' intent to be legally bound, while section 21 of the Second Restatement of Contracts states that "[n]either real nor apparent intention that a promise be legally binding is essential to the formation of a contract." There are also differences within U.S. law on the issue. While section 21 describes courts' approach to most contracts, the parties' intent to contact can be a condition of validity of preliminary agreements, domestic agreements ...