Conditions of Use
This text is one of three volumes in this series. This first volume covers 1) promises and when state power should be used to enforce promises, 2) consideration and it’s alternatives (including promissory estoppel and the material benefit rule),... read more
This text is one of three volumes in this series. This first volume covers 1) promises and when state power should be used to enforce promises, 2) consideration and it’s alternatives (including promissory estoppel and the material benefit rule), and 3) contract formation under the common law and, to some extent, under the UCC as well. The book I currently use (Knapp, Crystal, and Prince (KCP) provides greater depth of coverage for UCC contract formation. KCP also provides far more material for each bit of content. For example, there are only two cases that primarily focus on whether there’s an offer (Dyno Construction Co. v. McWane, Inc. and Lefkowitz v. Great Minneapolis Surplus Store, Inc.) but there are five in KCP.
Content is accurate, error-free and not overtly biased.
The book was published in 2012. This is generally not a problem, as contract doctrine does not evolve quickly. However, there were major changes in 2022. In particular, to the scope of the UCC for hybrid transactions. In addition, there will soon be a new restatement of consumer contracts that might be nice for a book to touch upon. According to the ALI website, “Drafting of this project is completed. The official text is expected to be published in 2024.” Anyone considering a new book adoption should, in my opinion, think about how these changes will affect their course coverage and make plans accordingly.
The text is written in lucid prose. Like all law textbooks, there is quite a bit of jargon/technical terminology. It would be nice if that jargon was hyperlinked to provide a definition of terms you might expect students not to understand. But that is not provided.
All of the reading assignments are self-contained. When statutory or restatement sections are assigned, they appear in the text. Helpfully, this avoids the need to buy a statutory supplement.
The text is easily divisible into smaller blocks. There is ample use of headings and white space. The paragraphs of the cases are helpfully numbered for ease of reference.
There are two primary ways to begin a contracts casebook: with theories of obligation (contract, promissory estoppel, and quasi contract) or with damages. This chooses the more sensible (IMO) approach, which is to start with theories of obligation. In that regard, it parallels one of the most popular contract casebooks (Knapp, Crystal, and Prince).
In my view, the book may be a challenge for first-year students. For example, brief discussions of agency law and restitution are included in the first 15 pages. While they’re brief and it’s impossible to only assign one thing that a time, it’s not clear to me that they’re helpful to the first year law student.
Generally, the topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion. There is a short introductory note, a copy of the relevant sections of the restatement or the UCC, a principal case, sometimes a note case, then some discussion questions about the material. Generally, there is less interstitial material than in KCP.
The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader. The hyperlinks in the document make it easy to jump to the right place in the text.
The text contains no apparent grammatical errors.
The text is not culturally insensitive or obviously offensive. It does not, though, appear to go to extra effort to ensure that the examples or cases are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The subject matter of the cases involves, among others: race horses; a farm; a harrier jet; employment contracts; the sale of wheat; a commercial real property lease; promises to abstain from vice; a lottery; promise to provide housing; bankruptcy; and currency exchange. To the extent that I’m aware of the people involved, most tend to be white and male.
Ease of Use
For folks who are considering this after using KCP, you may be pleased to see several cases that repeat. Some cases, like Lucy v. Zehmer were merely note cases in KCP but are full cases here. Others, like Leonard v. PepsiCo, are given cursory treatment in both books. Other shared cases include Hamer v. Sidway, Kirskey v. Kirksey, and Batsakis v. Demotsis. There are also many chestnuts in the book that you may recognize, such as ProCD, Hill v. Gateway, and Lefkowitz. Many other cases were entirely new to me.
Personally, I won't be adopting this book.
The book is Volume I of a multi-volume work on contract principles; Vol I contains topics on contract formation (including mutuality of promises, offer and acceptance, consideration, etc) with extensive cases and inclusion of citations and... read more
The book is Volume I of a multi-volume work on contract principles; Vol I contains topics on contract formation (including mutuality of promises, offer and acceptance, consideration, etc) with extensive cases and inclusion of citations and discussions of the Restatements. No index or glossary were provided with the edition submitted.
Content appears to be accurate and unbiased (although occasional editorial observations are not unwelcome or unhealthy).
Relevant and current, adaptable to updates and revisions.
The concepts are complex and the cases chosen are, although necessary, by their length are not a model of clarity (Judge Easterbrook's accessible style notwithstanding). It would be helpful with intertwined issues to break them out for independent discourse and with the chosen cases a bit more distilled or edited.
The work appears to be internally consistent, although a bit case-heavy in Ch III. Additionally, a note of caution may well be in order in delineating the common law fill-in doctrines of intent and terms as "default rules;" while appropriately relatable for the generation reading it, they will presumably at some point also come to know that the word "default" is itself a term of art in contract law (not to mention in that other first-year universe of civil procedure) so perhaps an alternative analogous choice would be in order.
As referenced above, it is difficult to divide assignments when in one single chapter the reader and educator alike have the challenge of both a 26-page and 21-page case for consideration and study.
Well-organized on the whole.
No images or charts were included in the edition submitted (perhaps would be helpful)
Classic "oldie-but-goodie" cases juxtapose nicely with contemporary social and legal issues,and modern challenges in technology including shrink wrap and other topics will allow maintenance of cultural relevance.
Thank you for the opportunity to review this work.
Eloise McCain Hassell
UNCG Bryan School of Business
Table of Contents
I. Introduction to the Legal Significance of Promise Making
- 1. What is a Promise?
- 2. Which Promises Are Enforced?
II. The Consideration Requirement and Alternatives
- 1. Consideration Doctrine
- 2. Bargain or Gift?
- 3. Adequacy Doctrine
- 4. Promissory Estoppel
- 5. The Material Benefit Rule
III. Contract Formation
- 1. Offer
- 2. Acceptance
- 3. Revocation of Offers
- 4. UCC Section 2-207
- 5. Frontiers of Contract Formation
Ancillary MaterialSubmit ancillary resource
About the Book
This is the first in a series of Contracts casebooks. It was originally titled "Collaborative Teaching Materials for Contracts."
The first semester of law school is mostly about learning to speak a new legal language (but emphatically not “legalese”), to formulate and evaluate legal arguments, to become comfortable with the distinctive style of legal analysis. We could teach these skills using almost any legal topic. But we begin the first-year curriculum with subjects that pervade the entire field of law. Contract principles have a long history and they form a significant part of the way that lawyers think about many legal problems. As you will discover when you study insurance law, employment law, family law, and dozens of other practice areas, your knowledge of contract doctrine and theory will be invaluable.
About the Contributors
J.H. (Rip) Verkerke is a professor of law and director of the Program for Employment and Labor Law Studies at the University of Virginia School of Law. He earned an M.Phil. in economics and a J.D. from Yale University. He joined the UVA Law School faculty in 1991 after clerking for Judge Ralph K. Winter, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Verkerke teaches contracts, several employment law courses and a seminar on behavioral economic analysis of law.