Sunday, February 24, 2013

Promising "Reads" in Contract Law

The Eigth International Contracts Conference is now done, but a report on yesterday's panels is worth noting.  The presentations included a panel on Are Consumer "Contracts" Contracts? with Oren Bar-Gill (NYU), Jean Braucher (U Arizona), David Horton (UC-Davis) and Margaret Jane Radin (U Michigan) as presenters.  The focus of this discussion was Professor Radin's book "Boilerplate: The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law" (Available on Amazon for $30.40 and Kindle $19.25).  I haven't read it yet, but after hearing the panel, a number of those in the audience ordered it.  The Wall Street Journal did a book review for it and Professor Horton will post a review on SSRN soon.  The book gives a historical view of the dreaded boilerplate language for any who aren't already drawn in by the issues and then turns to a discussion concluding what many already know: there are serious defects with consent to boilerplate under classic contract doctrine.  Of course, restricting boilerplate has its problems as well in a society depending on speedy transactions that are not individually negotiated.

Another panel focused on Professor Bar-Gill's book "Seduction by Contract: Law, Economics and Psychology in Consumer Markets" (Available on Amazon for $32.50 and $19.24 on Kindle).  Professor Bar-Gill takes up specific instances of long-term consumer contracting (cell phones, mortgages, credit cards, etc.) and grapples with consumer short term philosophy toward their own prospects and the market that ultimately allows sellers to secure less favorable long-term deals.

I look forward to reading these soon.

                                                                                                                                     - JSM

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