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Full-Text Articles in Law

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.


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

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

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 ...


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 ...


Contractual Evolution, Matthew Jennejohn, Julian Nyarko, Eric L. Talley Jan 2021

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 ...


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 ...


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

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 ...


Specific Performance, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller Jan 2020

Specific Performance, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller

Faculty Scholarship

When should specific performance be available for breach of contract? This question has engaged generations of legal economists and philosophers, historians and comparativists. Yet none of these disciplines have provided a persuasive answer. This Article provides a normatively-attractive and conceptually-coherent account. Respect for the autonomy of the promisor’s future self explains why expectation damages are, and should be, the ordinary remedy for contract breach. Also, this same normative commitment to the contracting parties’ autonomy best justifies the “uniqueness exception,” where specific performance is typically awarded, and the personal services exclusion, where it is not. For the most part, 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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


The Paradox Of Contracting In Markets, Robert E. Scott Jan 2020

The Paradox Of Contracting In Markets, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Contract design that motivates parties to invest and trade more efficiently occurs primarily in thin markets characterized by bespoke, bilateral agreements between commercial parties. In that environment, the cost of producing each contract is relatively high. Those costs are justified by offsetting design improvements in contractual incentives. In contrast, more efficient production of contract terms occurs in thick, multilateral markets where parties can realize the scale advantages of standardization. In this environment, the cost of producing individual contracts is relatively low but at the offsetting cost of undermining contractual incentives. These very different trade-offs are dictated by changes in the ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Revising Boilerplate: A Comparison Of Private And Public Company Transactions, Stephen J. Choi, Robert E. Scott, G. Mitu Gulati Jan 2019

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

Faculty Scholarship

The phenomenon of “sticky boilerplate” causing inefficient contract terms to persist exists across a variety of commercial contract types. One explanation for this failure to revise suboptimal terms is that the key agents on these transactions, including attorneys and investment bankers, are short sighted; their incentives are to get the deal done rather than ensure that they are using the best terms possible for their clients. Moreover, these agents face a first mover disadvantage that deters unilateral revisions to inefficient terms. If agency costs are indeed driving the stickiness phenomenon, we expect that the pace of revision will vary across ...


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 ...


Some Issues On The Law Of Direct Damages (Us And Uk), Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2019

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

Faculty Scholarship

When a contract is breached both US and UK law provide that the non-breaching party should be made whole. I propose a general principle that should guide implementation – the contract is an asset and the problem is one of determining the change in value of that asset at the time of the breach. In the simplest case, the breach of a contract for the sale of a commodity in a thick market, the change in the value of the asset is simply the contract-market differential; the contract-as-asset notion doesn’t add much. It becomes more useful as we move away ...


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 ...


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


The Middleman’S Damages Revisited, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2018

The Middleman’S Damages Revisited, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

If A promises to sell to B who, in turn, promises to sell to C and either A or C breaches should B receive the gain it expected had both transactions occurred (lost profits) or the larger market/contract differential? Recent case law and commentary argues for the lost profit remedy. The argument is that there is a conflict between awarding market damages and making the nonbreacher whole. This paper argues that there is no conflict. If B were a broker, and C breached, then A would have an action against C for market damages. If B were party to ...


Why Autonomy Must Be Contract's Ultimate Value, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller Jan 2018

Why Autonomy Must Be Contract's Ultimate Value, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller

Faculty Scholarship

In “The Choice Theory of Contracts”, we develop a liberal theory of contract law. One core task of the book was to persuade advocates of economic analysis that they must situate their enterprise within our liberal framework. Autonomy, rightly understood, is the telos of contract.

Oren Bar-Gill pushes back strongly in “Choice Theory and the Economic Analysis of Contracts”. He offers a penetrating – perhaps devastating – critique of our approach. Bar-Gill notes the substantial convergence between choice theory and a welfarist view. If he is right, then what does choice theory add?

Our task in Part I of this Essay is ...


Autonomy For Contract, Refined, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller Jan 2018

Autonomy For Contract, Refined, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller

Faculty Scholarship

In The Choice Theory of Contracts, we advance a claim about the centrality of autonomy to contract. This Issue offers thoughtful and penetrating critiques. Here, we reply. Autonomy is the grounding principle of contract. In Choice Theory, we stressed the (1) proactive facilitation component of autonomy, in particular, the state’s obligation regarding contract types. Here, we highlight two additional, necessary implications of autonomy for contract: (2) regard for future selves and (3) relational justice. These three aspects of autonomy shape the range, limit, and floor, respectively, for the legitimate use of contract. They provide a principled and constrained path ...


Freedom, Choice, And Contracts, Hanoch Dagan, Michael A. Heller Jan 2018

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

Faculty Scholarship

In The Choice Theory of Contracts, we explain contractual freedom and celebrate contract types. This Issue offers penetrating critiques. Here, we reply by refining choice theory and showing how it fits and shapes 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 reply to Benbaji, we can ...


Remedies In The Ucc: Some Critical Thoughts, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2018

Remedies In The Ucc: Some Critical Thoughts, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

This paper for a conference presents a number of criticisms of the remedy provisions in Section 2 of the UCC. The paper focuses on three issues: (a) the relationship between market damages and cover; (b) damages for anticipatory repudiation; and (c) the lost volume seller.


Consequential Damages And Exclusion Clauses, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2018

Consequential Damages And Exclusion Clauses, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

Contracts often include language excluding compensation for consequential damages. However, the boundary between consequential and direct damages is a blurry one. Courts have used concepts like foreseeability, natural result of the breach, and collateral business in their attempts to define the boundary. Those categories, I argue, are not particularly helpful. I consider three classes of cases: wrongful termination, delay, and breach of warranty. This paper argues that lost profits, when referring to the change in value of the contract after a wrongful termination would be direct damages; the hard case involves terminated dealers who had been paid indirectly for retailing ...


The Lost Volume Seller In English Law, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2018

The Lost Volume Seller In English Law, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

If a buyer breaches a contract but the market price has remained unchanged, English courts and the treatises have treated the seller as a “lost volume seller.” The seller, it is argued, could have had two sales, not one, so it lost the profit on the second sale. This paper recognizes that the buyer has an option to terminate and that the contract prices that option. The implicit option price of the lost volume remedy results in an absurd contract, setting the option price high when it should be low and vice versa. The default rule ought to be the ...


At The Intersection Of Land Grievances And Legal Liability: The Need To Reconsider Contract Rights And Expectations At The Supranational Level, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lise Johnson, Sam Szoke-Burke Dec 2017

At The Intersection Of Land Grievances And Legal Liability: The Need To Reconsider Contract Rights And Expectations At The Supranational Level, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lise Johnson, Sam Szoke-Burke

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

This Article explores how host governments’ legal obligations can affect or constrain their ability to address “land grievances,” which are defined as concerns raised by local individuals or communities in response to negative impacts of land-based investments. Obligations under international investment law, international human rights law, and investor-state contracts can be in tension or can directly conflict with one another, creating complexity for governments seeking to respond to land grievances. To explore the legal considerations that governments must navigate in this context, this Article considers several options that governments could pursue to respond to land grievances. In all of the ...


Mechanisms For Consultation And Free, Prior And Informed Consent In The Negotiation Of Investment Contracts, Sam Szoke-Burke, Kaitlin Y. Cordes Mar 2017

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 investments, such as agricultural or forestry 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 has serious implications for requirements for meaningful consultation, and, where applicable, free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), and is particularly important in situations in which investor-state contracts grant the investor rights to lands or resources over which the community has legitimate claims.

The paper explores how consultation and FPIC processes can be integrated into ...