The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Contracts

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Written by a leading expert in the field, The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Contracts provides students with ready access to the basic doctrines of contract law, the story behind their evolution, and the rationales for their continued existence. An engaging book that allows students to grasp the "big picture" of contract law, it is organized around the principle that lies at the heart of contracts: consent. Beginning with the premise of "consent," the book provides a cohesive framework in which to understand the various aspects of contract law.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199740185
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/21/2010
  • Series: Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 284
  • Sales rank: 415,335
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Randy E. Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown University Law Center. He has taught courses on contracts, constitutional law, torts, and cyber law, among other subjects at many prestigious schools, including Harvard and the University of Chicago. Professor Barnett is an expert in the field of contract law and has written many books and articles, including major contract publications for Aspen and Princeton University Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xiii

Chapter 1 A Short History of Contract Law 1

1.1 The Common Law Writ System 1

1.2 The Writs of Debt, Detinue, and Covenant 2

1.3 The Rise of Assumpsit 4

1.4 The Doctrinal Implications of this Story 6

1.5 Law and Equity 7

Chapter 2 The Enforcement of Contracts 11

2.1 Why Read about Contract Remedies Before Contract Formation? 11

2.2 Money Damages: The Presumptive Form of Remedy for Breach of Contract 12

2.3 Money Damages 13

2.3.1 Measures of Money Damages 13

2.3.2 The Expectation Measure of Contract Damages 14

2.3.3 Why Favor the Expectation Measure? 17

2.3.4 The Concept of Efficient Breach 22

2.3.5 How to Compute the Expectation Measure 23

2.3.6 Subjective Cost and Money Damages 26

2.3.7 Measuring Damages by Cost of Completion or Diminution in Value 31

2.4 Three Limitations on Contract Damages 37

2.4.1 Remoteness or Foreseeability of Harm 38

2.4.2 Certainty of Harm 48

2.4.3 Avoidability of Loss 53

2.5 Specific Performance 58

2.5.1 Contracts for Land 58

2.5.2 Contracts for Goods 59

2.5.3 Contracts for Personal Services 62

Chapter 3 Mutual Assent 67

3.1 The Objective Theory of Assent 68

3.2 Reaching an Agreement 75

3.2.1 Offers versus Preliminary Negotiations 75

3.2.2 Offers versus Jests 78

3.2.3 Bilateral versus Unilateral Contracts 79

3.3 Interpreting the Agreement 84

3.3.1 Resolving Ambiguity 86

3.3.2 Resolving Vagueness 92

3.3.3 The Hierarchy of Evidence of Meaning 93

3.4 Filling Genuine Gaps in the Agreement 95

3.4.1 Agreements with Open Terms 96

3.4.2 Illusory Promises 101

3.5 Form Contracts 103

3.5.1 Form Contracts and the Modern Objective Approach 104

3.5.2 Todd Rakoff's Defense and Critique of Form Contracts 105

3.5.3 The Consensual Basis for Enforcing Form Contracts 112

3.5.4 Limits on Enforcing Form Contracts 114

3.5.5 UCC Section 2-207 and the Battle of the Forms 122

Chapter 4 Enforceability 127

4.1 The Social Function of Consent 128

4.1.1 Using Resources: The First-Order Problem of Knowledge 128

4.1.2 Two Problems of Interest 140

4.1.3 Protecting Reliance: From Subjective to Objective Consent 144

4.2 The Doctrine of Consideration 147

4.2.1 The Origins of the Doctrine of Consideration 148

4.2.2 The Bargain Theory of Consideration 150

4.2.3 Distinguishing Bargained-For Exchanges from Conditioned Gifts 156

4.2.4 Preexisting Duties 158

4.3 The Use of Formalities 161

4.4 The Doctrine of Promissory Estoppel 166

4.4.1 Section 90 of the First and Second Restatements 166

4.4.2 Grant Gilmore and the Death (and Rebirth) of Contract 168

4.4.3 Promissory Estoppel as Contract: Consent to be Legally Bound 174

4.4.4 Promissory Estoppel as Tort: Promissory Misrepresentation 181

4.4.5 An Alternative to Section 90 186

Chapter 5 Performance and Breach 189

5.1 The Duty of Good Faith Performance 190

5.1.1 The Concept of the Duty of Good Faith Performance 190

5.1.2 The Summers-Burton Debate 191

5.1.3 Recapturing Forgone Opportunities 194

5.2 Anticipatory Repudiation and Material Breach 199

Chapter 6 Defenses to Contractual Obligation 209

6.1 Rebutting the Prima Facie Case of Contract 209

6.2 Lack of Contractual Capacity 213

6.2.1 Deficiencies in Adult Contractual Capacity 213

6.2.2 Infancy 216

6.3 Obtaining Consent by Improper Means 218

6.3.1 Why Are Some Means of Obtaining Consent Improper? 218

6.3.2 Misrepresentation 220

6.3.3 Economic Duress 225

6.3.4 Undue Influence 228

6.3.5 Unconscionability 230

6.4 The Failure of a Basic Assumption 233

6.4.1 Tacit Assumptions and the Scope of Consent 233

6.4.2 Unilateral Mistake and Misrepresentation 238

Index 249

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