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Full-Text Articles in Law

Contract Schemas, Roseanna Sommers Oct 2021

Contract Schemas, Roseanna Sommers

Articles

This review draws on the notion of “contract schemas” to characterize what ordinary people think is happening when they enter into contractual arrangements. It proposes that contracts are schematically represented as written documents filled with impenetrable text containing hidden strings, which are routinely signed without comprehension. This cognitive template, activated whenever people encounter objects with these characteristic features, confers certain default assumptions, associations, and expectancies. A review of the literature suggests that contract schemas supply (a) the assumption that terms will be enforced as written, (b) the feeling that one is obligated to perform, and (c) the sense that one …


The Separation Of Voting And Control: The Role Of Contract In Corporate Governance, Gabriel V. Rauterberg Jun 2021

The Separation Of Voting And Control: The Role Of Contract In Corporate Governance, Gabriel V. Rauterberg

Articles

The default rules of corporate law make shareholders’ control rights a function of their voting power. Whether a director is elected or a merger is approved depends on how shareholders vote. Yet, in private corporations shareholders routinely alter their rights by contract. This phenomenon of shareholder agreements—contracts among the owners of a firm— has received far less attention than it deserves, mainly because detailed data about the actual contents of shareholder agreements has been lacking. Private companies disclose little, and shareholder agreements are thought to play a trivial or nonexistent role in public companies. I show that this is false—fifteen …


Deal Protection Devices, Albert H. Choi Jun 2021

Deal Protection Devices, Albert H. Choi

Articles

In mergers and acquisitions transactions, a buyer and a seller will often agree to contractual mechanisms (deal protection devices) to deter third parties from jumping the deal and to compensate a disappointed buyer. With the help of auction theory, this Article analyzes various deal protection devices, while focusing on the two most commonly used mechanisms: match rights and target termination fees. A match right gives the buyer a right to “match” a third party’s offer so as to prevent the third party from snatching the target away, while a termination fee compensates the buyer when a third party acquires the …


Contract Design When Relationship-Specific Investment Produces Asymmetric Information, Albert H. Choi, George Triantis Jun 2021

Contract Design When Relationship-Specific Investment Produces Asymmetric Information, Albert H. Choi, George Triantis

Articles

Under conventional contract theory, contracts may be efficient by protecting relationship specific investment from holdup in subsequent (re)negotiation over terms of trade. This paper demonstrates a different problem when specific investment also provides significant private information to the investing party. This is fairly common: for example, a manufacturer invests to learn about its buyer's idiosyncratic needs or a collaborator invests to learn about a joint venture. We show how such private information can lead to subsequent bargaining failure and suboptimal ex ante relationship-specific investment. We also show that this inefficiency is worse if the parties enter into a binding and …


The Behavioral Effects Of (Unenforceable) Contracts, Evan Starr, Jj Prescott, Norman Bishara Nov 2020

The Behavioral Effects Of (Unenforceable) Contracts, Evan Starr, Jj Prescott, Norman Bishara

Articles

Do contracts influence behavior independent of the law governing their enforceability? We explore this question in the context of employment noncompetes using nationally representative data for 11,500 labor force participants. We show that noncompetes are associated with reductions in employee mobility and changes in the direction of that mobility (i.e., toward noncompetitors) in both states that do and do not enforce noncompetes. Decomposing mobility into job offer generation and acceptance, we detect no evidence of differences in job search, recruitment, or offer activity associated with noncompetes. Rather, we find that employees with noncompetes—even in states that do not enforce them—frequently …


Making Employment Arbitration Fair And Accessible, Theodore J. St. Antoine May 2020

Making Employment Arbitration Fair And Accessible, Theodore J. St. Antoine

Articles

Mandatory arbitration agreements require employees, as a condition of employment, to agree to arbitrate all employment disputes instead of filing court suits. The Supreme Court has approved such agreements but many labor experts oppose them. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to prohibit pre-dispute agreements, the common form for mandatory arbitrations. This article argues that the House bill would have the practical effect of virtually eliminating employment arbitration. Instead, proposals are presented for either legislative or judicial steps to ensure that employment arbitration is fair and accessible. Requirements would include: (1) voluntary agreements on the part of …


Consumer Psychology And The Problem Of Fine Print Fraud, Roseanna Sommers, Meirav Furth-Matzkin Mar 2020

Consumer Psychology And The Problem Of Fine Print Fraud, Roseanna Sommers, Meirav Furth-Matzkin

Articles

This Article investigates consumers' beliefs about contracts that are formed as a result of fraud. Across four studies, we asked lay survey respondents to judge scenarios in which sellers use false representations to induce consumers to buy products or services. In each case, the false representations are directly contradicted by the written terms of the contract, which the consumers sign without reading. Our findings reveal that lay respondents, unlike legally trained respondents, believe that such agreements are consented to and will be enforced as written, despite the seller's material deception. Importantly, fine print discourages consumers from wanting to take legal …


Designing And Enforcing Preliminary Agreements, Albert H. Choi, George Triantis Feb 2020

Designing And Enforcing Preliminary Agreements, Albert H. Choi, George Triantis

Articles

Preliminary agreements—variously labeled as memoranda of understanding, letters of intent, term sheets, commitment letters, or agreements in principle—are common in complex business transactions. They document an incomplete set of terms that the parties have agreed upon, while anticipating further negotiation of the remaining provisions. They often create legal obligations, particularly a duty to negotiate in good faith. This duty has been the subject of a substantial number of judicial opinions over the past few decades and yet continues to be regarded as a confusing and unpredictable issue in contract law. Legal scholarship is hamstrung in its analysis of the case …


The Private Law Critique Of International Investment Law, Julian Arato Jan 2019

The Private Law Critique Of International Investment Law, Julian Arato

Articles

This Article argues that investment treaties subtly constrain how nations organize their internal systems of private law, including laws of property, contracts, corporations, and intellectual property. Problematically, the treaties do so on a one-size-fits-all basis, disregarding the wide variation in values reflected in these domestic legal institutions. Investor-state dispute settlement exacerbates this tension, further distorting national private law arrangements. This hidden aspect of the system produces inefficiency, unfairness, and distributional inequities that have eluded the regime's critics and apologists alike.


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 …


Contracting Out Of The Fiduciary Duty Of Loyalty: An Empirical Analysis Of Corporate Opportunity Waivers, Gabriel Rauterberg, Eric Talley Jun 2017

Contracting Out Of The Fiduciary Duty Of Loyalty: An Empirical Analysis Of Corporate Opportunity Waivers, Gabriel Rauterberg, Eric Talley

Articles

For centuries, the duty of loyalty has been the hallowed centerpiece of fiduciary obligation, widely considered one of the few “mandatory” rules of corporate law. That view, however, is no longer true. Beginning in 2000, Delaware dramatically departed from tradition by granting incorporated entities a statutory right to waive a crucial part of the duty of loyalty: the corporate opportunities doctrine. Other states have since followed Delaware’s lead, similarly permitting firms to execute “corporate opportunity waivers.” Surprisingly, more than fifteen years into this reform experiment, no study has attempted to either systematically measure the corporate response to these reforms or …


A Complainant-Oriented Approach To Unconscionability And Contract Law, Nicholas Cornell Jun 2016

A Complainant-Oriented Approach To Unconscionability And Contract Law, Nicholas Cornell

Articles

This Article draws attention to a conceptual point that has been overlooked in recent discussions about the theoretical foundations of contract law. I argue that, rather than enforcing the obligations of promises, contract law concerns complaints against promissory wrongs. This conceptual distinction is easy to miss. If one assumes that complaints arise whenever an obligation has been violated, then the distinction does not seem meaningful. I show, however, that an obligation can be breached without giving rise to a valid complaint. This Article illustrates the importance of this conceptual distinction by focusing first on the doctrine of substantive unconscionability. I …


Understanding Noncompetition Agreements: The 2014 Noncompete Survey Project, J. J. Prescott, Norman D. Bishara, Evan Starr Apr 2016

Understanding Noncompetition Agreements: The 2014 Noncompete Survey Project, J. J. Prescott, Norman D. Bishara, Evan Starr

Articles

In recent years, scholars and policymakers have devoted considerable attention to the potential consequences of employment noncompetition agreements and to whether legislatures ought to reform the laws that govern the enforcement of these controversial contractual provisions. Unfortunately, much of this interest—and the content of proposed reforms—derives from anecdotal tales of burdensome noncompetes among low-wage workers and from scholarship that is either limited to slivers of the population (across all studies, less than 1%) or relies on strong assumptions about the incidence of noncompetition agreements. Better understanding of the use of noncompetes and effective noncompetition law reform requires a more complete …


Mandatory Arbitration In Consumer Finance And Investor Contracts, Michael S. Barr Oct 2015

Mandatory Arbitration In Consumer Finance And Investor Contracts, Michael S. Barr

Articles

Mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses are pervasive in consumer financial and investor contracts—for credit cards, bank accounts, auto loans, broker-dealer services, and many others. These clauses often ill serve households. Consumers are typically presented with contracts on a “take it or leave it” basis, with no ability to negotiate over terms. Arbitration provisions are often not clearly disclosed, and in any event are not salient for consumers, who do not focus on the importance of the provision in the event that a dispute over the contract later arises, and who may misforecast the likelihood of being in such a dispute. The …


With Marriage On The Decline And Cohabitation On The Rise, What About Marital Rights For Unmarried Partners?, Lawrence W. Waggoner Oct 2015

With Marriage On The Decline And Cohabitation On The Rise, What About Marital Rights For Unmarried Partners?, Lawrence W. Waggoner

Articles

This article draws attention to a cultural shift in the formation of families that has been and is taking place in this country and in the developed world. Part I uses recent government data to trace the decline of marriage and the rise of cohabitation in the United States. Between 2000 and 2010, the population grew by 9.71 %, but the husband and wife households only grew by 3.7%, while the unmarried couple households grew by 41.4%. A counter-intuitive finding is that the early 21st century data show little correlation between the marriage rate and economic conditions. Because of the …


Implementing Symmetric Treatment Of Financial Contracts In Bankruptcy And Bank Resolution, E. J. Janger, John A.E. Pottow Jan 2015

Implementing Symmetric Treatment Of Financial Contracts In Bankruptcy And Bank Resolution, E. J. Janger, John A.E. Pottow

Articles

Financial contracts come in many forms and serve many functions in both the financial system and the broader economy. Repos secured by U.S. Treasury securities act as money substitutes and can play an important role as part of the money supply, while similarly structured repos, secured by more volatile collateral, may be used as speculative devices or hedges. Swaps can be used to insure against various types of market risk, from interest rates to oil prices, or they can operate as vehicles for highly leveraged investments. The parties to these instruments are sometimes major financial institutions and, other times, ordinary …


A Presumptively Better Approach To Arbitrability, John A. E. Pottow, Jacob Brege, Tara J. Hawley Jan 2013

A Presumptively Better Approach To Arbitrability, John A. E. Pottow, Jacob Brege, Tara J. Hawley

Articles

One of the most complex problems in the arbitration field is the question of who decides disputes over the scope of an arbitrator's purported authority. Courts in Canada and the United States have taken different approaches to this fundamental question of "arbitrability" that necessarily arises when one party disputes the contractual validity of the underlying "container" contract carrying the arbitration clause. If arbitration is a creature of contract, and contract is a product of consensual agreement, then any dispute that impugns the underlying consent of the parties to the container contract implicates the arbitration agreement itself (i.e., no contract, no …


Warranties In The Box, James J. White Jan 2009

Warranties In The Box, James J. White

Articles

Thousands of times each day, a buyer opens a box that contains a new computer or other electronic device. There he finds written material including an express "Limited Warranty." Sometimes the box has come by FedEx directly from the manufacturer; other times the buyer has carried it home from a retail merchant. Despite the fact that it is standard practice for the manufacturer to include a limited written express warranty on the sale of such products,' and despite the fact that both the manufacturer and the buyer believe that warranty to be legally enforceable, the law on its enforceability is …


Partially Odious Debts?, Omri Ben-Shahar, Mitu Gulati Jan 2007

Partially Odious Debts?, Omri Ben-Shahar, Mitu Gulati

Articles

The despotic ruler of a poor nation borrows extensively from foreign creditors. He spends some of those funds on building statues of himself, others on buying arms for his brutal secret police, and he places the remainder in his personal bank accounts in Switzerland. The longer the despot stays in power, the poorer the nation becomes. Although the secret police are able to keep prodemocracy protests subdued by force for many years, eventually there is a popular revolt. The despot flees the scene with a few billion dollars of his illgotten gains. The populist regime that replaces the despot now …


On The Stickiness Of Default Rules, Omri Ben-Shahar, John A. E. Pottow Jan 2006

On The Stickiness Of Default Rules, Omri Ben-Shahar, John A. E. Pottow

Articles

It was once perceived, and still is commonly taught, that default rules in contract law must mimic efficient arrangements. Otherwise, these rules impose needless transaction costs upon parties who seek to opt out of them to reach more efficient positions. In settings where these costs are high, parties might find themselves "stuck" in a default, unable to reach the outcome that they prefer. The strong version of this account-that the only factor that can make an inefficient default rule stick is the direct cost of drafting a tailored provision-has been gradually reappraised. It is by now recognized that factors beyond …


Foreword [To Boilerplate: Foundations Of Market Contracts Symposium], Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2006

Foreword [To Boilerplate: Foundations Of Market Contracts Symposium], Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

It is tempting to open this symposium with yet another "boilerplate" salute to the challenge that standard-form contracts pose for contract law doctrine. You may have seen many tributes to this fundamental problem. If I were to offer my own variation on this familiar introduction, I would have perhaps tried to come up with an original spin to induce you to read forward another paragraph or two. I would probably have talked about a major divide within contract law between the "law of negotiations" and "product regulation." The former is the body of doctrines that determine the legal consequences of …


Boilerplate And Economic Power In Auto Manufacturing Contracts, Omri Ben-Shahar, James J. White Jan 2006

Boilerplate And Economic Power In Auto Manufacturing Contracts, Omri Ben-Shahar, James J. White

Articles

This Article is structured as follows. Part I compares the terms and conditions in the purchase orders of the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and highlights important differences in the substance of these boilerplate provisions. It argues that these differences cannot be easily reconciled with the prediction that sophisticated parties draft the most efficient boilerplate terms. Part II examines how these forms are drafted, how their terms are negotiated, and how the OEMs guard their terms from erosion. It provides some insight on how tailoring occurs and how the internal organization of a party to a deal affects the terms that …


Mutual Assent Versus Gradual Ascent: The Debate Over The Right To Retract, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

Mutual Assent Versus Gradual Ascent: The Debate Over The Right To Retract, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

I ended Contracts Without Consent: Exploring a New Basis for Contract Liability with a reminder that the analysis was "lacking in rigor and in nuance" and that "[i]t remains for future work to explore the extent to which the approach developed. . . has the horsepower to resolve pragmatically the problems that have proven difficult for current doctrine and to examine whether these solutions advance the various social objectives associated with contract formation." Such "future work" arrived sooner than I expected. I have now had the privilege to read the three commentaries that the University of Pennsylvania Law Review solicited, …


Forward [To Freedom From Contract Symposium], Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

Forward [To Freedom From Contract Symposium], Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

This Symposium explores freedom from contract. When I was preparing to travel from my home in Ann Arbor to the University of Wisconsin where this Symposium was to be held, my 9-year-old son asked where I was headed. I explained that a bunch of people and I were going to meet and talk about freedom from contract, but the boy seemed unsure what this exchange was going to be about. I tried to translate: "It is about making promises that you don't really have to keep." This sounded surprising to him. He raised an inquisitive brow, and I knew he …


Threatening An Irrational Breach Of Contract, Oren Bar-Gill, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

Threatening An Irrational Breach Of Contract, Oren Bar-Gill, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

When circumstances surrounding the contract change, a party might consider breach a more attractive option than performance. Threatening breach, this party may induce the other party to modify the original agreement. The contract law doctrine of modification determines whether and when these modifications are enforceable. To promote social welfare as well as the interests of the threatened party, the law should enforce modifications if and only if the modification demand is backed by a credible threat to breach. This paper argues that credibility is not a function of pecuniary interests alone. A decision to breach can be motivated also by …


The Law Of Duress And The Economics Of Credible Threats, Oren Bar-Gill, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

The Law Of Duress And The Economics Of Credible Threats, Oren Bar-Gill, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

This paper argues that enforcement of an agreement, reached under a threat to refrain from dealing, should be conditioned solely on the threat's credibility. When a credible threat exists, enforcement promotes social welfare and the threatened party's interests. If agreements backed by credible threats were not enforceable, the threatening party would not extort them and would instead refrain from deaing-to the threatened party's detriment. The doctrine of duress, which invalidates such agreements, hurts the coerced party. By denying enforcement when a credible threat exists, the duress doctrine precludes the threatened party from making the commitment necessary to reach agreement. Paradoxically, …


Contracts Without Consent: Exploring A New Basis For Contractual Liability, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

Contracts Without Consent: Exploring A New Basis For Contractual Liability, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

This Essay explores an alternative to one of the pillars of contract law, that obligations arise only when there is "mutual assent "--when the parties reach consensus over the terms of the transaction. It explores a principle of "no-retraction," under which each party is obligated to terms it manifested and can retract only with some liability. In contrast to the all-or-nothing nature of the mutual assent regime, where preliminary forms of consent are either full-blown contracts or create no obligation, under the no-retraction regime, obligations emerge gradually, as the positions of the negotiating parties draw closer. Further, the no-retraction liability …


'Agreeing To Disagree': Filling Gaps In Deliberately Incomplete Contracts, Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2004

'Agreeing To Disagree': Filling Gaps In Deliberately Incomplete Contracts, Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

Incomplete contracts have always been viewed as raising the following challenge for contract law: does the incompleteness-or, "indefiniteness," as it is usually called-rise to such a level that renders the agreement legally unenforceable? When the indefiniteness concerns important terms, it is presumed that the parties have not reached an agreement to which they intend to be bound. This "fundamental policy" is the upshot of the view that "contracts should be made by the parties, not by the courts."' When, in contrast, the indefiniteness concerns less important terms, courts supplement the agreement with gap fillers and enforce the supplemented contract.


Contracting Under Amended 2-207 (Freedom From Contract Symposium), James J. White Jan 2004

Contracting Under Amended 2-207 (Freedom From Contract Symposium), James J. White

Articles

Amended Section 2-207 of the Uniform Commercial Code1 (the Code) states new contract rules. I call these "contract rules" to avoid the labels of contract formation and contract interpretation. These new rules cure many of the problems presented by current Section 2-2072 and remind courts that the purpose of Section 2-207 is to interpret a contract that has been made, not to see if a contract exists. One is tempted to label current Section 2-207 as a contract formation provision-and to some extent that would be right-but most of this Section's work has been in contract interpretation, not in contract …


A Footnote For Jack Dawson, James J. White, David A. Peters Jan 2002

A Footnote For Jack Dawson, James J. White, David A. Peters

Articles

Jack Dawson, known to many at Michigan as Black Jack, taught at the Law School from 1927 to 1958. Much of his work was published in the Michigan Law Review, where he served as a student editor during the 1923-24 academic year. We revisit his work and provide a footnote to his elegant writing on mistake and supervening events. In Part I, we talk a little about Jack the man. In Part II, we recite the nature and significance of his scholarly work. Part III deals briefly with the cases decided in the last twenty years by American courts on …