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Thursday, June 2, 2005

Contracts in Law & Society

Stewart_macaulay_1 We’re sorry we didn’t give you any advance notice—blame the participants for not telling us about it—but there’s an interesting panel going on this afternoon at the Law & Society Association Annual Meeting in the City of Dreams, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Wisconsin's "Lord High Executioner," Stewart Macauley (left) is moderating a panel called Contract Rules and the Law in Action. There are three papers, each of which sound like they’ll be taking the audience outside the world of doctrine and into the practical world of business. Copies of the papers aren’t available online, but you can click on the author’s name to request a copy by e-mail.

Contractual Theory and the Formation of Music Contracts, by Guy Osborn and Steve Greenfield (University of Westminster).

This paper is concerned with the negotiation of music contracts and the extent to which traditional contract theory provides an appropriate analytical framework for such agreements. We will start with a contextual analysis of the music industry and the cultural and economic factors that inform both the bargaining process and the eventual contractual terms. Reference will be made to common terms and issues and the relevance of standard form models. We then consider how contractual disputes have been resolved and the implications that the system of resolution has for the integrity of classical contract law theory. This will test our idea that a classical model cannot adequately explain the process and form of such contracts and that we need to apply alternative contextual and theoretical perspectives to understand and explain this type of ‘agreement’.

Examining the "Black Sox" Scandal Through the Lens of Contract Law, by Keith A. Rowley:

In 1919, a massive breakdown in relations between the Chicago White Sox and the teams' players precipitated a scandal in which several members of the heavily-favored Sox conspired with gamblers to intentionally lose the World Series in exchange for a payoff far in excess of the players' meager salaries. But for the trade that sent Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, triggering their ascendancy and turning one of the two best left-handed pitchers of his generation into the premiere power hitter and most popular player of the first century of major league baseball, the "Black Sox" scandal might have killed major league baseball. Contractual and quasi-contractual relations -- including Sox owner Charles Comiskey's refusal to allow star pitcher Eddie Cicotte to earn a bonus for winning 30 games by ordering him benched late in the season, Cicotte and the other players' parsimonious contracts with the Sox, the unavailability of free agency, Cicotte and the other players' agreements with the gamblers, the gamblers' agreements among one another, and the owners’ agreement establishing the office of Commissioner of Baseball, empowering Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis and agreeing to be bound by his rulings "in the best interest of the game" -- were integral to the scandal and its aftermath. While a handful of scholarly articles, scholarly and popular books, and an excellent movie (John Sayles's "Eight Men Out") have explored the scandal, its contractual and quasi-contractual aspects have been overlooked or relegated to marginalia. I propose to remedy this oversight.

Forward Sales Contract, Windfall Gains, and Substantive Justice, by David Wood (Melbourne)

[No abstract available]

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