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Full-Text Articles in Law

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Foreign Contracts And U.S. Copyright Termination Rights: What Law Applies? – Comment, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2020

Foreign Contracts And U.S. Copyright Termination Rights: What Law Applies? – Comment, 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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


The Macpherson-Henningsen Puzzle, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2017

The Macpherson-Henningsen Puzzle, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

In the landmark case of MacPherson v. Buick, an automobile company was held liable for negligence notwithstanding a lack of privity with the injured driver. Four decades later, in Henningsen v. Bloomfield Motors, the court held unconscionable the standard automobile company warranty which limited its responsibility to repair and replacement, even in a case involving physical injury. This suggests a puzzle: if it were so easy for firms to contract out of liability, did MacPherson accomplish anything?


The Common Law Of Contract And The Default Rule Project, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott Jan 2016

The Common Law Of Contract And The Default Rule Project, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

The common law developed over centuries a small set of default rules that courts have used to fill gaps in otherwise incomplete contracts between commercial parties. These rules can be applied almost independently of context: the market damages rule, for example, requires a court only to know the difference between market and contract prices. When parties in various sectors of the economy write sales contracts but leave terms blank, courts fill in the blanks with their own rules. As a consequence, a judicial rule that many parties accept must be “transcontextual”: parties in varied commercial contexts accept the courts’ rule ...


The Common Law Of Contract And The Default Rule Project, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott Jan 2016

The Common Law Of Contract And The Default Rule Project, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

The common law developed over centuries a small set of default rules that courts have used to fill gaps in otherwise incomplete contracts between commercial parties. These rules can be applied almost independently of context: the market damages rule, for example, requires a court only to know the difference between market and contract prices. When parties in various sectors of the economy write sales contracts but leave terms blank, courts fill in the blanks with their own rules. As a consequence, a judicial rule that many parties accept must be “transcontextual”: parties in varied commercial contexts accept the courts’ rule ...


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 ...


The Common Law Of Contract And The Default Rule Project, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott Jan 2016

The Common Law Of Contract And The Default Rule Project, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

The common law developed over centuries a small set of default rules that courts have used to fill gaps in otherwise incomplete contracts between commercial parties. These rules can be applied almost independently of context: the market damages rule, for example, requires a court only to know the difference between market and contract prices. When parties in various sectors of the economy write sales contracts but leave terms blank, courts fill in the blanks with their own rules. As a consequence, a judicial rule that many parties accept must be "transcontextual": parties in varied commercial contexts accept the courts' rule ...


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 ...


Origin Myths, Contracts, And The Hunt For Pari Passu, Mark C. Weidemaier, Robert E. Scott, G. Mitu Gulati Jan 2010

Origin Myths, Contracts, And The Hunt For Pari Passu, Mark C. Weidemaier, Robert E. Scott, G. Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

Sovereign loans involve complex but largely standardized contracts, and these include some terms that no one understands. Lawyers often account for the existence of these terms through origin myths. Focusing on one contract term, the pari passu clause, this article explores two puzzling aspects of these myths. First, it demonstrates that the myths are inaccurate as to both the clause’s origin and the role of lawyers in contract drafting. Second, the myths often are unflattering, inaccurately portraying lawyers as engaged in little more than rote copying. The article probes this disjunction between the myths and lawyers’ actual practices and ...


Bankruptcy's Rarity: An Essay On Small Business Bankruptcy In The United States, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2008

Bankruptcy's Rarity: An Essay On Small Business Bankruptcy In The United States, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Most nations have enacted statutes governing business liquidation and reorganization. These statutes are the primary focus when policymakers and scholars discuss ways to improve laws governing business failure. This focus is misplaced, at least for distressed small businesses in the United States.

Evidence from a major credit bureau shows that over eighty percent of these businesses liquidate or reorganize without invoking the formal Bankruptcy Code.

The businesses instead invoke procedures derived from the laws of contracts, secured lending, and trusts. These procedures can be cheaper and speedier than a formal bankruptcy filing, but they typically require unanimous consent of senior ...


Bankruptcy's Rarity: An Essay On Small Business Bankruptcy In The United States, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2008

Bankruptcy's Rarity: An Essay On Small Business Bankruptcy In The United States, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Most nations have enacted statutes governing business liquidation and reorganization. These statutes are the primary focus when policymakers and scholars discuss ways to improve laws governing business failure. This focus is misplaced, at least for distressed small businesses in the United States.

Evidence from a major credit bureau shows that over eighty percent of these businesses liquidate or reorganize without invoking the formal Bankruptcy Code.

The businesses instead invoke procedures derived from the laws of contracts, secured lending, and trusts. These procedures can be cheaper and speedier than a formal bankruptcy filing, but they typically require unanimous consent of senior ...


Hoffman V. Red Owl Stores And The Myth Of Precontractual Reliance, Robert E. Scott Jan 2006

Hoffman V. Red Owl Stores And The Myth Of Precontractual Reliance, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Hoffman v. Red Owl Stores is one of the storied cases in modern contract law. The conventional wisdom is that Hoffman represents the emergence of a new legal rule imposing promissory estoppel liability for representations made during preliminary negotiations. Yet a review of contemporary case law shows that, in fact, courts require some form of agreement before they will grant recovery for early reliance. Hoffman's main legacy, therefore, has been as a trap for the unwary lawyer (and unhappy client) who unsuccessfully seek recovery for reliance on preliminary negotiations. This article asks how the court in Hoffman was able ...


A Case For Civil Marriage, Carol Sanger Jan 2006

A Case For Civil Marriage, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

There has been a frenzy of legislative activity aimed at nailing down the legal definition of marriage to make sure that there will be no more nonsense about same-sex monograms or same-sex marriage applications. In an effort to slow down the frenzy, and to encourage those within the academy to think harder about the on-going problem of what to do about marriage, Professor Edward Stein has posed a straightforward question: Should civil marriage simply be abolished? In this mini-symposium, Professors Edward Zelinsky and Daniel Crane have provided two answers to his question: yes and yes.

Although I am a Contract ...


Embedded Options In The Case Against Compensation In Contract Law, Robert E. Scott, George G. Triantis Jan 2004

Embedded Options In The Case Against Compensation In Contract Law, Robert E. Scott, George G. Triantis

Faculty Scholarship

Although compensation is the governing principle in contract law remedies, it has tenuous historical, economic, and empirical support. A promisor's right to breach and pay damages is only a subset of a larger family of termination rights that do not purport to compensate the promisee for losses suffered when the promisor walks away from the contemplated exchange. These termination rights can be characterized as embedded options that serve important risk management functions. We show that sellers often sell insurance to their buyers in the form of these embedded call options, and that termination fees, including damages, are in essence ...


Self-Enforcing International Agreements And The Limits Of Coercion, Robert E. Scott, Paul B. Stephan Jan 2004

Self-Enforcing International Agreements And The Limits Of Coercion, Robert E. Scott, Paul B. Stephan

Faculty Scholarship

International law provides an ideal context for studying the effects of freedom from coercion on cooperative behavior. Framers of international agreements, no less than the authors of private contracts, can choose between self enforcement and coercive third-party mechanisms to induce compliance with the commitments they make. Studies of individual contracting provide some evidence that coercive sanctions may crowd out self enforcement, implying that too great a propensity by external actors to intervene in the contractual relationship may produce welfare losses. We explore the possibility that too much coercive third-party enforcement similarly can reduce the value of international agreements.

We argue ...


Contracts With Consent: A Contextual Critique Of The No-Retraction Liability Regime, Ronald J. Mann Jan 2004

Contracts With Consent: A Contextual Critique Of The No-Retraction Liability Regime, Ronald J. Mann

Faculty Scholarship

This is a reply to Omri Ben-Shahar's Contracts with Consent, forthcoming in the Pennsylvania Law Review, and will be published along with his essay in that journal. The reply makes two main points. First, it argues that Omri's no-retraction liability regime will impose substantial costs, largely because of the frequency with which parties will have non-opportunistic reasons for retracting contract proposals that their negotiating partners have not yet accepted. Second, it argues that these costs will be substantial even though Ben-Shahar presents his proposal as a default rule. First, his rule vitiates the information-forcing benefits of the current ...


Self-Enforcing International Agreements And The Limits Of Coercion, Robert E. Scott, Paul B. Stephan Jan 2004

Self-Enforcing International Agreements And The Limits Of Coercion, Robert E. Scott, Paul B. Stephan

Faculty Scholarship

International law provides an ideal context for studying the effects of freedom from coercion on cooperative behavior. To be sure, almost all academic discussions on the subject begin by asking whether international law constitutes "law." But the category of all "international law" is too big and heterogeneous to permit useful analysis. Whether to regard, say, the rules governing the conduct of war or international humanitarian law as "law" presents radically different issues than analyzing the legal character of the Treaty of Rome (the constitutive instrument of the European Community), or the Warsaw Convention (the instrument governing contracts for the carriage ...


(Baby) M Is For The Many Things: Why I Start With Baby M, Carol Sanger Jan 2000

(Baby) M Is For The Many Things: Why I Start With Baby M, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

For several years now I have begun my first-year contracts course with the 1988 New Jersey Supreme Court case In the Matter of Baby M. In this essay, I want to explain why. I offer the explanation in the spirit of modest proselytizing, recognizing that many of us already have a favored method or manner into the course: some introductory questions we pose before leaping into (or over) the introductions already provided by the editors of the many excellent casebooks available. But I have found that Baby M works extremely well in ways that others may want to consider. It ...


(Baby) M Is For The Many Things: Why I Start With Baby M, Carol Sanger Jan 2000

(Baby) M Is For The Many Things: Why I Start With Baby M, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

For several years now I have begun my first-year contracts course with the 1988 New Jersey Supreme Court case In the Matter of Baby M. In this essay, I want to explain why. I offer the explanation in the spirit of modest proselytizing, recognizing that many of us already have a favored method or manner into the course: some introductory questions we pose before leaping into (or over) the introductions already provided by the editors of the many excellent casebooks available. But I have found that Baby M works extremely well in ways that others may want to consider. It ...


An Economic Analysis Of The Guaranty Contract, Avery W. Katz Jan 1999

An Economic Analysis Of The Guaranty Contract, Avery W. Katz

Faculty Scholarship

Guaranty arrangements, in which one person stands as surety for a second person's obligation to a third, are ubiquitous in commercial transactions and in commercial law. In recent years, however, scholarly attention to the topic has been scant; and no one has systematically analyzed this body of law and practice from an economic policy perspective. Accordingly, this Article attempts to outline the basic economic logic underlying the guaranty relationship, and applies the results to a variety of specific issues in government policy and private planning. It poses and answers three main questions: First, why would a creditor prefer to ...


Bloomer Girl Revisited Or How To Frame An Unmade Picture, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 1998

Bloomer Girl Revisited Or How To Frame An Unmade Picture, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

Nearly all contracts casebooks feature the saga of Shirley MacLaine's suit against Twentieth Century Fox arising from the cancellation of the proposed film Bloomer Girl. None really get the story right. To be fair, none try. The case is a vehicle for exploring the obligation of the victim of the breach of an employment contract to take alternative employment. If MacLaine refused an offer of alternative employment that was not "different and inferior," her failure to mitigate would mean that the earnings she would have received would be offset against the damages; so, asked the court, was the alternative ...