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Contract Law Minimalism
A Formalist Restatement of Commercial Contract Law


Part of Law in Context

  • Date Published: November 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107021075

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About the Authors
  • Commercial contract law is in every sense optional given the choice between legal systems and law and arbitration. Its 'doctrines' are in fact virtually all default rules. Contract Law Minimalism advances the thesis that commercial parties prefer a minimalist law that sets out to enforce what they have decided - but does nothing else. The limited capacity of the legal process is the key to this 'minimalist' stance. This book considers evidence that such minimalism is indeed what commercial parties choose to govern their transactions. It critically engages with alternative schools of thought, that call for active regulation of contracts to promote either economic efficiency or the trust and co-operation necessary for 'relational contracting'. The book also necessarily argues against the view that private law should be understood non-instrumentally (whether through promissory morality, corrective justice, taxonomic rationality, or otherwise). It sketches a restatement of English contract law in line with the thesis.

    • Presents a distinctive thesis about the role and content of commercial contract law, which will appeal to students, scholars and practitioners studying contract and commercial law
    • Engages with a wide range of perspectives on contract law: philosophical (e.g. promissory, taxonomic, corrective justice), economic and socio-legal (e.g. social norms)
    • Explains and defends the 'neoformalist' approach to contract law developed in recent US scholarship
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… [an] admirable contribution to this fascinating debate.' Catherine Mitchell, International Company and Commercial Law Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107021075
    • length: 314 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.7kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Clearing the Ground:
    1. Does instrumentalism 'fit' contract law?
    2. Justifying the instrumental approach
    Part II. Social Sciences and the Law of Contract:
    3. A critique of neoclassical law and economics
    4. Relational contracting: trust, business and law
    5. Extra-legal norms: the irrelevance of the law (of contract)?
    Part III. Contract Law Minimalism:
    6. Defining contract law minimalism, or the 'new formalism'
    7. Against regulation through contract law
    8. The limited capacity of contract law
    9. What business wants: evidence from the 'markets for law'
    10. A formalist restatement of commercial contract law.

  • Author

    Jonathan Morgan, University of Cambridge
    Jonathan Morgan is Fellow of Corpus Christi College and Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Cambridge. He was previously Fellow and Tutor in Law at St Catherine's College, Oxford and Fellow and Director of Studies at Christ's College, Cambridge. He has for many years also taught English law at Warsaw University and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. His teaching and research interests range across the law of obligations and public law.

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