Binding Promises: The Late 20th-Century Reformation of Contract Law

Princeton University Press
Free sample

During its classical period, American contract law had three prominent characteristics: nearly unlimited freedom to choose the contents of a contract, a clear separation from the law of tort (the law of civil wrongs), and the power to make contracts without regard to the other party's ability to understand them. Combining incisive historical analysis with a keen sense of judicial politics, W. David Slawson shows how judges brought the classical period to an end about 1960 with a period of reform that continues to this day.

American contract law no longer possesses any of the prominent characteristics of its classical period. For instance, courts now refuse to enforce standard contracts according to their terms; they implement the consumer's reasonable expectations instead. Businesses can no longer count on making the contracts they want: laws for certain industries or for businesses generally set many business obligations regardless of what the contracts say. A person who knowingly breaches a contract and then tries to avoid liability is subject to heavy penalties.

As Slawson demonstrates, judges accomplished all these reforms, although with some help from scholars. Legislation contributed very little despite its presence in massive amounts and despite the efforts of modern institutions of law reform such as the Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Slawson argues persuasively that this comparison demonstrates the superiority of judge-made law to legislation for reforming private law of any kind.

Read more

About the author

W. David Slawson is Torrey H. Webb Professor of Law at the University of Southern California. He is the author of The New Inflation: The Collapse of Free Markets (Princeton).
Read more



Additional Information

Princeton University Press
Read more
Published on
Jul 8, 1996
Read more
Read more
Read more
Read more
Law / Legal History
Read more
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The inspiration for American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson on FX, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., John Travolta, David Schwimmer, and Connie Britton
The definitive account of the O. J. Simpson trial, The Run of His Life is a prodigious feat of reporting that could have been written only by the foremost legal journalist of our time. First published less than a year after the infamous verdict, Jeffrey Toobin’s nonfiction masterpiece tells the whole story, from the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman to the ruthless gamesmanship behind the scenes of “the trial of the century.” Rich in character, as propulsive as a legal thriller, this enduring narrative continues to shock and fascinate with its candid depiction of the human drama that upended American life.
Praise for The Run of His Life
“This is the book to read.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“This book stands out as a gripping and colorful account of the crime and trial that captured the world’s attention.”—Boston Sunday Globe
“A real page-turner . . . strips away the months of circuslike televised proceedings and the sordid tell-all books and lays out a simple, but devastating, synopsis of the case.”—Entertainment Weekly
“A well-written, profoundly rational analysis of the trial and, more specifically, the lawyers who conducted it.”—USA Today
“Engrossing . . . Toobin’s insight into the motives and mind-set of key players sets this Simpson book apart from the pack.”—People (one of the top ten books of the year)

From the Hardcover edition.
©2018 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.