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Columbia Law School

Contracts

Contracts

2015

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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 ...