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Contracts

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Online Disinhibited Contracts, Wayne R. Barnes Feb 2024

Online Disinhibited Contracts, Wayne R. Barnes

Faculty Scholarship

There have been at least two dominant forces at work in the realm of consumer contracting over the past several decades. One has been the rise and domination of the standard form contract (whereby merchants contract with consumers via the use of standardized, boilerplate terms and conditions that consumers do not read or understand). The second force has been the rise of e-commerce and the purchase of goods and services via websites and other online platforms, and the use of “wrap” formation methodology (whereby merchants obtain consumer assent to the online terms and conditions via the consumer’s informal click, scroll, …


Silencing Jorge Luis Borges The Wrongful Suppression Of The Di Giovanni Translations, Wes Henricksen Jan 2024

Silencing Jorge Luis Borges The Wrongful Suppression Of The Di Giovanni Translations, Wes Henricksen

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


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 …


After Ftx: Can The Original Bitcoin Use Case Be Saved?, Mark Burge Dec 2023

After Ftx: Can The Original Bitcoin Use Case Be Saved?, Mark Burge

Faculty Scholarship

Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies spawned by the innovation of blockchain programming have exploded in prominence, both in gains of massive market value and in dramatic market losses, the latter most notably seen in connection with the failure of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange in November 2022. After years of investment and speculation, however, something crucial has faded: the original use case for Bitcoin as a system of payment. Can cryptocurrency-as-a-payment-system be saved, or are day traders and speculators the actual cryptocurrency future? This article suggests that cryptocurrency has been hobbled by a lack of foundational commercial and consumer-protection law that …


Confidentiality Clauses In Settlement Agreements After The Consumer Review Fairness Act, Wayne Barnes Jul 2023

Confidentiality Clauses In Settlement Agreements After The Consumer Review Fairness Act, Wayne Barnes

Faculty Scholarship

Online commerce has skyrocketed in recent years, and shoppers are purchasing goods or services online in greater numbers every year. The COVID-19 pandemic has only hastened the trend. One significant aspect of online shopping is the presence of consumer reviews posted by prior purchasers of goods or services, describing their experience with the products, the services and/or the selling merchant. A vast majority of online shoppers say that they rely on these reviews to help inform their purchasing decisions. Positive reviews can be tremendously beneficial to a business’ profitability, whereas negative reviews can be equally detrimental. Users of the internet …


Rational Contract Design, Naveen Thomas Jan 2023

Rational Contract Design, Naveen Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


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 …


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 …


The Failure Of Market Efficiency, William Magnuson Jan 2023

The Failure Of Market Efficiency, William Magnuson

Faculty Scholarship

Recent years have witnessed the near total triumph of market efficiency as a regulatory goal. Policymakers regularly proclaim their devotion to ensuring efficient capital markets. Courts use market efficiency as a guiding light for crafting legal doctrine. And scholars have explored in great depth the mechanisms of market efficiency and the role of law in promoting it. There is strong evidence that, at least on some metrics, our capital markets are indeed more efficient than they have ever been. But the pursuit of efficiency has come at a cost. By focusing our attention narrowly on economic efficiency concerns—such as competition, …


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 …


Contracts Scholarship Beyond Materialisierung, Daniela Caruso Dec 2022

Contracts Scholarship Beyond Materialisierung, Daniela Caruso

Faculty Scholarship

This comment aims to show how Klaus Eller's paper on ‘The Political Economy of Tenancy Contract Law’1 raises the stakes of private law scholarship and contributes to the larger project of remodeling legal institutions in a progressive direction. The comment starts by contextualising the rapid spread of the Law and Political Economy (LPE) movement; illustrates through examples the generative impact of LPE on contemporary contracts scholarship; and highlights two strands of Eller’s original contribution to such literature: a welcome reflection on the value and limits of Materialisierung, and a radical widening of the private law inquiry to include …


Waivers, Keith N. Hylton Sep 2022

Waivers, Keith N. Hylton

Faculty Scholarship

Waiver contracts are agreements in which one party promises not to sue the other for injuries that occur during their contractual relationship. Waivers are controversial in the consumer context, especially when presented in standard form, take-it-or-leave-it contracts. The law on waivers appears muddled, with no consistent doctrine or policy among the courts on enforceability. The aim of this paper is to offer a consistent set of policies that can form the foundation of a consistent set of doctrines, leading ultimately to a more apparently consistent treatment of waivers in the courts. The most basic piece of this paper’s framework is …


Langdell And The Foundation Of Classical Contract Law, Daniel P. O'Gorman May 2022

Langdell And The Foundation Of Classical Contract Law, Daniel P. O'Gorman

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Consumer Law As An Axis Of Economic Inequality, Daniel Markovits, Barak D. Richman, Rory Van Loo May 2022

Consumer Law As An Axis Of Economic Inequality, Daniel Markovits, Barak D. Richman, Rory Van Loo

Faculty Scholarship

In the standard paradigm of consumer law, a voluntary transaction is supposed to be welfare enhancing for each of the parties involved. We challenge this foundational presumption and ask to what extent many common consumer contracts are in fact extractive despite resulting from voluntary exchanges. With inequality growing throughout the world, to a degree that threatens the stability of both the economies and governments of even the wealthiest nations, we ask this fundamental question in an effort to identify root causes of inequality and to mark some guideposts for the articles that follow. Taken together, our speculations suggest that the …


If You Draw It, Students Learn It: An Approach To Teaching Contracts And Other Doctrinal Courses, Paul Figueroa Apr 2022

If You Draw It, Students Learn It: An Approach To Teaching Contracts And Other Doctrinal Courses, Paul Figueroa

Faculty Scholarship

Spring 2019 was my first semester as a tenure-stream law professor. That semester I taught Legal Remedies and Contracts II—two subjects that overlap in their coverage of contract damages. I felt very comfortable teaching contracts, given my nearly twenty years of experience on contractual matters in both the private and public sectors. My first few classes went well, which validated my initial confidence. However, my optimism about the semester evaporated when I attempted to teach the parol evidence rule (“PER”).1 It was a Monday, and before starting my Contracts II class I asked the students, “How was the weekend?” followed …


Contract's Covert Meddlers, Sarah Winsberg Mar 2022

Contract's Covert Meddlers, Sarah Winsberg

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


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 …


Lowering The Stakes Of The Employment Contract, Aditi Bagchi Jan 2022

Lowering The Stakes Of The Employment Contract, Aditi Bagchi

Faculty Scholarship

Every country has to make hard choices about the distribution of entitlements. But employers control the entitlements that individual Americans enjoy to a far greater extent than those in other rich democracies. In this Essay, I argue that, in the absence of the political consensus necessary to deliver state solutions to political questions, employers here are assigned an exaggerated role in employees’ lives. Government incentives for and directives to employers have become a strategy of political deflection. The effect has been to raise the stakes of employment well beyond the scope of those terms and conditions that relate to attracting …


Why The Corporation Locks In Financial Capital But The Partnership Does Not, Richard Squire Jan 2022

Why The Corporation Locks In Financial Capital But The Partnership Does Not, Richard Squire

Faculty Scholarship

Each partner in an at-will partnership can obtain a cash payout of his interest at any time. The corporation, by contrast, locks in shareholder capital, denying general payout rights to shareholders unless the charter states otherwise. What explains this difference? This Article argues that partner payout rights reduce the costs of two other characteristics of the partnership: the non-transferability of partner control rights, and the possibility for partnerships to be formed inadvertently. While these characteristics serve valuable functions, they can introduce a bilateral-monopoly problem and a special freezeout hazard unless each partner can force the firm to cash out his …


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) …


The Uniform Commercial Code Survey: Introduction, Jennifer S. Martin, Colin P. Marks, Wayne Barnes Oct 2021

The Uniform Commercial Code Survey: Introduction, Jennifer S. Martin, Colin P. Marks, Wayne Barnes

Faculty Scholarship

The survey that follows highlights the most important developments of 2020 dealing with domestic and international sales of goods, personal property leases, payments, letters of credit, documents of title. investment securities, and secured transactions.


The Contract Interpretation Policy Debate: A Primer, Joshua M. Silverstein Feb 2021

The Contract Interpretation Policy Debate: A Primer, Joshua M. Silverstein

Faculty Scholarship

Contract interpretation is one of the most significant areas of commercial law. As a result, there is an extensive academic and judicial debate over the optimal method for construing agreements. Throughout this exchange, scholars and courts have advanced a wide array of conceptual, theoretical, and empirical arguments in support of the two primary schools of interpretation— textualism and contextualism—as well as various hybrid positions. This Essay is intended to serve as a primer on those arguments.


Foreword, Jennifer Taub Jan 2021

Foreword, Jennifer Taub

Faculty Scholarship

This Foreword highlights the central points of the Articles in Volume 43, Issue 1 of Western New England Law Review. The Article topics include emotional support animals, distribution rights for small beer brewers, fairness in accident insurance coverage, alternative legal education materials, and custody challenges for parents with abusive partners. Each share the identification of a perceived problem with the legal status quo and presents proposed solutions.


Contract's Influence On Feminism And Vice Versa, Martha M. Ertman Jan 2021

Contract's Influence On Feminism And Vice Versa, Martha M. Ertman

Faculty Scholarship

Feminist legal theory has both embraced and rejected contract. While contract-based conceptual and doctrinal tools have improved women’s economic and social status, feminists also critique contract-based reforms for colluding with hierarchies of gender, race and class. This chapter charts influential work on both sides of the contract debate and identifies a third approach that sees contract as a mechanism for law to move away from a hierarchal regime by stopping at a contractual way station en route to a more equal system of public ordering. It concludes by identifying ways that feminist legal theorists have injected feminist insights into traditional …


Let's Get Serious - The Clear Case For Compensating The Student Athlete - By The Numbers - A University Of Michigan Athletic Program Case Study, Neal Newman Jan 2021

Let's Get Serious - The Clear Case For Compensating The Student Athlete - By The Numbers - A University Of Michigan Athletic Program Case Study, Neal Newman

Faculty Scholarship

Should college athletes be compensated for their play and if so, how? The first question has been a debate for some time now. But the second question—the “how”—not so much. This writing addresses both questions in depth. With the Ed O’Bannon case that was decided back in August of 2014 and the palaver the Northwestern football team raised in their efforts to unionize, it is acknowledged that the discussions on this issue may have reached its crescendo years ago. That is until now. On September 27, 2019, Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California, signed into law Senate Bill 206. Senate …


Oliver Wendell Holmes's Theory Of Contract Law At The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Daniel P. O'Gorman Jan 2021

Oliver Wendell Holmes's Theory Of Contract Law At The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Daniel P. O'Gorman

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


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.


Would Reasonable People Endorse A ‘Content-Neutral’ Law Of Contract?, Aditi Bagchi Jan 2021

Would Reasonable People Endorse A ‘Content-Neutral’ Law Of Contract?, Aditi Bagchi

Faculty Scholarship

This essay raises two challenges to Peter Benson’s compelling new account of contract law. First, I argue that Benson’s use of the concept of reasonableness goes beyond the Rawlsian account to require that we impute to others a capacity to transcend their contingent circumstances in the context of contractual choice. In fact, our choices in contract are driven by external contingencies and it is only reasonable to take those constrains on other people’s choices into account. Second, I contest Benson’s related claim that contract law should be, and largely is, content-neutral. I argue to the contrary that the justice of …


Understanding University Fee Litigation: A Few Lessons About The Perils Of Imprudence For Higher Ed Plan Sponsors, Maria O'Brien, Calvin Utter Jan 2021

Understanding University Fee Litigation: A Few Lessons About The Perils Of Imprudence For Higher Ed Plan Sponsors, Maria O'Brien, Calvin Utter

Faculty Scholarship

Beginning in August 2016, a series of class action lawsuits were filed on behalf of participants and beneficiaries of 403(b) employee retirement plans sponsored by major American colleges and universities. These plans are regulated by the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), which sets minimum standards to protect the participants and beneficiaries of voluntarily established retirement and health plans. The allegations in the several lawsuits have centered primarily around breaches of fiduciary duties by those charged with administering the plan.

These cases are all class action lawsuits brought on behalf of the participants and beneficiaries of the plans in …


The Domains Of Loyalty: Relationships Between Fiduciary Obligation And Intrinsic Motivation, Deborah A. Demott Jan 2021

The Domains Of Loyalty: Relationships Between Fiduciary Obligation And Intrinsic Motivation, Deborah A. Demott

Faculty Scholarship

Recent scholarly inquiry into fiduciary law predominantly focuses on whether the subject is a coherent field and not a piecemeal assortment of doctrinal detail. This Article looks to the future and to relationships between the formal domain of fiduciary law and other factors that shape conduct. These include intrinsic motivation, markets for professional services, and forces like the operation of reputation. The Article demonstrates that looking across domains, from the legal to the extralegal, casts in sharp relief the reasons why fiduciary law is distinctive. These stem from the specific qualities of relationships to which fiduciary law applies, as well …