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Boilerplate

2024

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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 …