The Story of Contract Law: Implementing the Bargain

Table of contents
The Story of Contract Law: Implementing the Bargain
1st Edition
Val Ricks
© 2018 CALI eLangdell Press, www.cali.org. Subject to an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA
Table Of Contents
The Story of Contract Law: Implementing the Bargain

Val Ricks

Charles Weigel II Research Professor

and Professor of Law


South Texas College of Law Houston


CALI eLangdell Press 2017

Introduction.1. About the Author

Val Ricks has taught Contracts since 1996. His scholarship on contract law appears in the Georgetown LJ, Indiana LJ, BYU LR, George Mason LR, Baylor LR, and U. Kan. LR. He claims the original discovery that Isaac Kirksey actually made a bargain with Antillico. Professor Ricks also teaches, and writes about, business associations and other intersections of law and business. Before teaching, he clerked for Judge Charles Wiggins of the 9th Circuit and practiced transactional and appellate law in Salt Lake City. Professor Ricks received a B.A. summa cum laude in Philosophy and a J.D. summa cum laude, both from BYU. He and his bride are the parents of seven beautiful children.

Introduction.2. Notices

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Introduction.4. Implementing the Bargain

Many judges and scholars of contract law focus their attention on the parties’ assent, on agreement. But the doctrine of contract law itself focuses on the enforcement of a promise, one promise at a time. The central organizing rule for enforcement—the idea that ties the doctrines of contract law together—is that the promise must be part of a fair exchange. In formation doctrine, courts ensure an exchange by requiring consideration (which itself requires assent) but police the fairness of the exchange through the doctrines of mistake, duress, misrepresentation, undue influence, and unconscionability.

Separating contract law into doctrines of formation, interpretation, conditions, subsequently occurring events, remedies, and third-party interests, as I do in this book, distracts to some extent from discussion of the primary goal of contract doctrine, which is to enforce fair exchange. In the cases studied in this volume, courts continue to discern and police the bargain of the parties. Of course, the meaning of “fair” will depend on the goals of the court; contract doctrine, like most legal doctrine, lies at the level of generality (not too general, not too specific) that allows the plurality of views necessary for a legal system comprising diverse and strong-willed individuals to function. Nevertheless, if you are discerning, you should expect and be able to find in these materials arguments for and against fairness based on autonomy, welfare, and other moral claims, just as you did for the doctrines of formation in Volume I.

In the end, I hope you will see, notwithstanding its occasional missteps, what a remarkable achievement contract law is and how it meshes with the culture, and encourages the success, of a mostly honest and very ambitious people whose cooperation together is vital to their flourishing.

—Val Ricks

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