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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 …


A Formalist Theory Of Contract Law Adjudication, Felipe Jiménez Jan 2021

A Formalist Theory Of Contract Law Adjudication, Felipe Jiménez

Utah Law Review

Formalism has a bad name. It is often seen as a naïve and unsophisticated approach to the adjudication of legal disputes. This negative view of formalism is widespread in American legal culture and has been particularly influential in contract law. This Article challenges this prevailing view and argues that a formalist theory of adjudication is the best approach to resolve contractual disputes.

The argument of this Article starts from the assumption that contract law is not morally justified because of its enforcement of promissory rights or some other dimension of interpersonal morality. Instead, like contemporary law and economics, this Article …


One Judge's Legacy And The New York Court Of Appeals: Mr. Justice Cardozo And The Law Of Contracts, Meredith R. Miller Jan 2018

One Judge's Legacy And The New York Court Of Appeals: Mr. Justice Cardozo And The Law Of Contracts, Meredith R. Miller

Touro Law Review

No abstract provided.


Poke Your Nose Into Your Clients' Businesses (If You Want To Understand Their Contracts), James W. Bowers Nov 2017

Poke Your Nose Into Your Clients' Businesses (If You Want To Understand Their Contracts), James W. Bowers

Maine Law Review

Thirty years ago Grant Gilmore argued that “Contract” was dead. This lecture, delivered as 2004 Godfrey Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Maine School of Law, considers the cause of death. Since the expired doctrines arose in a common law process, the lecture argues their demise resulted from the failings of lawyers, especially lawyers' commitment to wooden, formalist legal methods. I explore some of the reasons why lawyers became committed to these methods, and argue that even were nineteenth-century formalistic practices resurrected, modern lawyers must still be prepared to understand the potential effects business contexts might have in contract disputes and …


Distributive Justice And Donative Intent, Alexander Boni-Saenz Jul 2017

Distributive Justice And Donative Intent, Alexander Boni-Saenz

All Faculty Scholarship

The inheritance system is beset by formalism. Probate courts reject wills on technicalities and refuse to correct obvious drafting mistakes by testators. These doctrines lead to donative errors, or outcomes that are not in line with the decedent’s donative intent. While scholars and reformers have critiqued the intent-defeating effects of formalism in the past, none have examined the resulting distribution of donative errors and connected it to broader social and economic inequalities. Drawing on egalitarian theories of distributive justice, this Article develops a novel critique of formalism in the inheritance law context. The central normative claim is that formalistic wills …


Contract Exposition And Formalism, Gregory Klass Feb 2017

Contract Exposition And Formalism, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Formalism in contract law has had many defenders and many critics. What courts need, however, is an account of when formalist approaches work and when they do not. This article addresses that need by developing a general theory of the rules of contract interpretation and construction—contract “exposition.” The theory distinguishes inter alia two forms of formalism. Formalities effect legal change by virtue of their form alone, and thereby obviate interpretation. Examples from contract law include “as is”, the seal and boilerplate terms. Formalities work when parties intend their legal effects, that is, when they perform juristic acts. Plain meaning rules, …


Empirical Study Redux On Choice Of Law And Forum In M&A: The Data And Its Limits, Juliet P. Kostritsky, Wojbor Woyczynski, Harold Haller, Kyle Chen Apr 2015

Empirical Study Redux On Choice Of Law And Forum In M&A: The Data And Its Limits, Juliet P. Kostritsky, Wojbor Woyczynski, Harold Haller, Kyle Chen

Juliet P Kostritsky

No abstract provided.


Efficient Contextualism, Peter M. Gerhart, Juliet P. Kostritsky Jan 2015

Efficient Contextualism, Peter M. Gerhart, Juliet P. Kostritsky

Faculty Publications

This Article recommends an economic methodology of contract interpretation that enables the court to maximize the benefits of exchange for the parties and thereby enhance the institution of contracting. We recommend a methodology that asks the parties to identify the determinants of a surplus maximizing interpretation so that the court can determine whether the determinants raise issues that need to be tried. We thus avoid the false choice between textualist and contextualist methodologies, while allowing the parties and the court to avoid costly litigation. For textualist courts, our methodology helps the judge determine when the terms the parties used are …


The Common Sense Of Contract Formation, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, David A. Hoffman Jan 2015

The Common Sense Of Contract Formation, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, David A. Hoffman

All Faculty Scholarship

What parties know and think they know about contract law affects their obligations under the law and their intuitive obligations toward one another. Drawing on a series of new experimental questionnaire studies, this Article makes two contributions.First, it lays out what information and beliefs ordinary individuals have about how to form contracts with one another. We find that the colloquial understanding of contract law is almost entirely focused on formalization rather than actual assent, though the modern doctrine of contract formation takes the opposite stance. The second Part of the Article tries to get at whether this misunderstanding matters. Is …


Context Matters--What Lawyers Say About Choice Of Law Decisions In Merger Agreements, Juliet P. Kostritsky Aug 2014

Context Matters--What Lawyers Say About Choice Of Law Decisions In Merger Agreements, Juliet P. Kostritsky

Juliet P Kostritsky

ABSTRACT: The study of choice of law provisions in merger agreements yields various theories as to how much thought parties put into them, and what factors influence such decisions. Eisenberg and Miller found a shift to New York law and other scholars later hypothesized that parties specify New York law rather than Delaware law because New York law is more formalistic. However, a study of 343 merger agreements, consisting of 15 lawyer interviews and a survey sent to 812 lawyers, suggests differently. First, there is no shift from Delaware to New York. Second, a desire for formalistic law is not …


The New European Legal Culture - Ten Years On, Martijn W. Hesselink Jan 2009

The New European Legal Culture - Ten Years On, Martijn W. Hesselink

Martijn W. Hesselink

This is a postscript to The New European Legal Culture which was written for the Chinese translation almost a decade after the original essay was published. That essay argued that Europe was facing a shift from a rather formal, dogmatic and positivistic approach to a more substance-oriented and pragmatic approach to private law. Ten years on, has the trend towards a new, less formal legal culture in Europe been confirmed or is there now a reverse tendency? As this paper points out, the picture is mixed: there are both examples of neo-formalism and new examples of a more substantive approach …


Notes On A Geography Of Knowledge, Michael J. Madison Jan 2009

Notes On A Geography Of Knowledge, Michael J. Madison

Articles

Law and knowledge jointly occupy a metaphorical landscape. Understanding that landscape is essential to understanding the full complexity of knowledge law. This Article identifies some landmarks in that landscape, which it identifies as forms of legal practice: several recent cases involving intellectual property licenses, including the recent patent law decision in Quanta v. LG Electronics and the open source licensing decision in Jacobsen v. Katzer. The Article offers a preliminary framework for exploring the territories of knowledge practice in which those legal landmarks appear.


Embracing Unconscionability’S Safety Net Function, Amy J. Schmitz Oct 2008

Embracing Unconscionability’S Safety Net Function, Amy J. Schmitz

Faculty Publications

Despite courts' and commentators' denial of morality and focus on efficiency in contract law, fairness and flexibility have remained the bedrocks of the unconscionability doctrine. This Article therefore departs from the popular formalist critiques of unconscionability that urge for the doctrine's demise or constraint based on claims that its flexibility and lack of clear definition threaten efficiency in contract law. Contrary to this formalist trend, this Article proposes that unconscionability is necessarily flexible and contextual in order to serve its historical and philosophical function of protecting core human values. Unconscionability is not frivolous gloss on classical contract law. Instead, it …


Is A Burrito A Sandwich? Exploring Race, Class, And Culture In Contracts, Marjorie Florestal Jan 2008

Is A Burrito A Sandwich? Exploring Race, Class, And Culture In Contracts, Marjorie Florestal

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

A superior court in Worcester, Massachusetts, recently determined that a burrito is not a sandwich. Surprisingly, the decision sparked a firestorm of media attention. Worcester, Massachusetts, is hardly the pinnacle of the culinary arts-so why all the interest in the musings of one lone judge on the nature of burritos and sandwiches? Closer inspection revealed the allure of this otherwise peculiar case: Potentially thousands of dollars turned on the interpretation of a single word in a single clause of a commercial contract. Judge Locke based his decision on "common sense" and a single definition of sandwich-"two thin pieces of bread, …


From Langdell To Law And Economics: Two Conceptions Of Stare Decisis In Contract Law And Theory, Jody S. Kraus Jan 2008

From Langdell To Law And Economics: Two Conceptions Of Stare Decisis In Contract Law And Theory, Jody S. Kraus

Faculty Scholarship

In his classic monograph, The Death of Contract, Grant Gilmore argued that Christopher Columbus Langdell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Samuel Williston trumped up the legal credentials for their classical bargain theory of contract law. Gilmore's analysis has been subjected to extensive criticism, but its specific, sustained, and fundamental charge that the bargain theory was based on a fraudulent misrepresentation of precedential authority has never been questioned. In this Essay, I argue that Gilmore's case against the classical theorists rests on the suppressed premise that the precedential authority of cases resides in the express judicial reasoning used to decide them. In …


Formalism In American Contract Law: Classical And Contemporary, Mark L. Movsesian Jan 2006

Formalism In American Contract Law: Classical And Contemporary, Mark L. Movsesian

Faculty Publications

It is a universally acknowledged truth that we live in a formalist era—at least when it comes to American contract law. Much more than the jurisprudence of a generation ago, today's cutting-edge work in American contract scholarship values the formalist virtues of bright-line rules, objective interpretation, and party autonomy. Policing bargains for substantive fairness seems more and more an outdated notion. Courts, it is thought, should refrain from interfering with market exchanges. Private arbitration has displaced courts in the context of many traditional contract disputes. Even adhesion contracts find their defenders, much to the chagrin of communitarian scholars.

This is …


Arbitration, Unconscionability, And Equilibrium: The Return Of Unconscionability Analysis As A Counterweight To Arbitration Formalism, Jeffrey W. Stempel Jan 2004

Arbitration, Unconscionability, And Equilibrium: The Return Of Unconscionability Analysis As A Counterweight To Arbitration Formalism, Jeffrey W. Stempel

Scholarly Works

However incomplete, unaggressive, or sub-optimal, unconscionability analysis of arbitration agreements has made something of a comeback in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, water seeks to be level, and ecosystems work to retain environmental stability, the legal system has witnessed an incremental effort by lower courts to soften the rough edges of the Supreme Court's pro-arbitration jurisprudence through rediscovery of what might be called the “unconscionability norm”--a collective judicial view as to what aspects of an arbitration arrangement are too unfair to merit judicial enforcement. In rediscovering and reinvigorating the unconscionability norm …


Should The Law Ignore Commercial Norms? A Comment On The Bernstein Conjuncture And Its Relevance For Contract Law Theory And Reform, Jason Scott Johnston Jun 2001

Should The Law Ignore Commercial Norms? A Comment On The Bernstein Conjuncture And Its Relevance For Contract Law Theory And Reform, Jason Scott Johnston

Michigan Law Review

Professor Bernstein's study of the interaction between private law and norms in the cotton industry is the latest installment in her ongoing investigation into the relationship between law and norms in trades ranging from the diamond market to grain and feed markets. Her incredibly detailed and thorough exploration of private lawmaking and commercial norms - and their interaction - stands as one of the most significant contributions to contract and commercial law scholarship made in the last half-century. The cotton industry study upon which I focus in this Comment not only reports fascinating findings about dispute resolution practices, but also …


Law, Literature, And Contract: An Essay In Realism, Blake D. Morant Jan 1998

Law, Literature, And Contract: An Essay In Realism, Blake D. Morant

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

In this Essay, the Author examines contract doctrine's weaknesses as applied to issues of race and gender. By contrasting the doctrinal silence concerning these issues with facts and circumstances that may have influenced the results in specific cases, the Author challenges classical contract theory's assertion of objectivity and its associated assumption of bargaining equality as an integral component of each contract. The Author then uses literature as an illustrative tool to highlight contract law's failings in contexts where bargaining disparities related to race and gender issues are present. This approach is not meant to eliminate contract rules but rather to …