Foundational Principles of Contract Law
The Oxford Commentaries on American Law(amazon)
Melvin A. Eisenberg (View Bio)
Hardcover: Oxford University Press, 2018.
Contract law has long been one of the basic building blocks of private law. Today, contract law has added significance, because the modern emphasis on market solutions has led to the increased contractualization of other areas of law. Furthermore, many of the elements of contract law, such as interpretation and mistake, spill over into law generally. Over the course of a long academic career, Melvin Eisenberg has been engaged in a project of reconceiving contract law, and the result is his magisterial Foundational Principles of Contract Law, which (1) Discusses the principles and rules of contract law, while placing emphasis on what the principles and rules of contract law should be, based on policy, morality, and experience. (2) Covers many areas of contract law, including the enforceability of promises, remedies for breach of contract, problems of assent, form contracts, the effect of mistake and changed circumstances, interpretation, and problems of performance. (3) Explores important theories in contract law, including the theory of efficient breach, the theory of overreliance, the normative theory of contracts, formalism, and theories of contract interpretation.
"Eisenberg’s book, like his previous scholarship, demonstrates his great intellectual curiosity. Eisenberg completed his legal studies before the emergence of economic analysis of the law; yet, once it appeared, he was quick to grasp its great contribution as well as its limitations. He has carefully integrated fruitful economic insights into his own analyses while simultaneously criticizing its more dogmatic and less fruitful claims with acute precision. Years later, after behavioral research shed new light on the law, he offered pioneering applications of psychological findings to various contract law doctrines. Eisenberg has been similarly interested in other theoretical perspectives on contract law, in legal history, in foreign legal systems, and no less importantly, in careful doctrinal analysis of case law and legislation. He masterfully weaves all these threads into the rich fabric of his scholarship to produce powerful legal arguments…. It is impossible within the boundaries of this review to do justice to the many original and powerful analyses that appear in Eisenberg’s book." — The University of Chicago Law Review