February 09, 2009
International Law Blogger Declares Contracts Law Boring
Over at Opinio Juris, everyone's favorite international law blog, Roger Alford (pictured) has a post about United States v. Eurodif, S.A., a recent Supreme Court decision that actually addresses some contracts issues. The question in the case is familiar to anyone who has had to cover the U.C.C.: is the contract at issue (in this case, the subject matter is the importation of low-enriched uranium) one for goods or services? Professor Alford's conclusion: *yawn*!
The Court deferred to the Commerce Department's conclusion that the contract in question was one for the sale of goods rather than services. It did so by distinguishing the process at issue in this contract from a dry cleaning service, which is properly understood as a service rather than a goods contract.
Professor Alford comments as follows:
While I have no expertise in the matter, I can’t help but wonder whether the process of manufacturing LEU could be adjusted to more closely resemble a service by simply requiring a precise and specific quantity of uranium feed be transformed and delivered as LEU. If one wishes a tailor to manufacture a shirt, one could do so by providing three yards of fabric designated for each individual shirt or one could simply provide thirty yards of fabric and contract for the end product of at least ten shirts. Is this the sale of an untracked and fungible good or is it a service that substantially transforms ten specific units of three linear yards of fabric? Who knows, and in truth, who cares?
It could be worse, you know. What would Professor Alford say to a Supreme Court decision that turned on the mailbox rule?
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I practiced International Trade for years and I currently teach both Contracts and International Trade. So I would never say that either is boring. But the case itself is a yawner. The point of the post was that for the first time in decades the Supreme Court took up an antidumping case and from my read of the opinion I don't think it offered anything new. I would have thought the Supreme Court would have done much more with the opinion than it did.
Posted by: Roger Alford | Feb 9, 2009 10:15:52 AM
It's a nice case for teaching students how to distinguish goods from services in an ambiguous situation. I happen to have been teaching that exactly when the case was decided and used it effectively in class for that purpose. I do have to wonder about the cause and purpose of the gratuitous last sentence in the quote taken from the international blog. What's going on here? (That's mostly a socratic question.)
Posted by: Richard Neumann | Feb 11, 2009 9:57:31 AM