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Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Saturday, October 8, 2005

Twenty-Five Years Ago (Almost)

Just over 25 years ago P.S. Atiyah published his important work, THE RISE AND FALL OF FREEDOM OF CONTRACT. OXFORD: CLARENDON PRESS, OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS. 1979. The importance of this work is attested to by Charles Fried who reviewed the book at 93 Harv. L. Rev. 1858. Fried wrote, "This monumental work is informed by a single coherent theme: [T]he nature of contractual and promissory liability has been largely misunderstood by lawyers, philosophers, and others. ... [P]romise-based liability is seen as the paradigm case for discussion both in law and among philosophers, and perhaps in ordinary discourse[,] [but] [f]ar from being the typical case of obligation, a promise-based liability may be a projection of liabilities normally based on benefit or reliance." Although Fried disagrees with Atiyah in various places, he aptly notes that Atiyah provides a coherent and profound insights into the nature of the history of contract and what that history tell us today.

[Stephen J. Safranek]

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