ContractsProf Blog

Editor: D. A. Jeremy Telman
Valparaiso Univ. Law School

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Best Contracts Scholarship of 2011: And the Winner Is . . . .

Ben-Shahar, OmriOmri Ben-Shahar, Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.  The winning article, Fixing Unfair Contracts, was published in 63 Stan. L. Rev. 869 (2011).

 Here is the abstract to Professor Ben-Shahar's article:

Various doctrines of contract and consumer protection law allow courts to strike down unfair contract terms. A large literature has explored the question which terms should be viewed as unfair, but a related question has never been studied systematically—what provision should replace the vacated unfair term? How should a distributively unfair contract be fixed? This Article demonstrates that the law uses three competing criteria for a replacement provision: (1) the most reasonable term; (2) a punitive term, strongly unfavorable to the overreaching party; and (3) the minimally tolerable term, which preserves the original term as much as is tolerable. The Article explores in depth the third criterion—the minimally tolerable term—under which the smallest intervention that is necessary is applied. This criterion, which has received no prior scholarly notice, is surprisingly prevalent in legal doctrine. The Article surveys its ubiquity and explores its conceptual and normative underpinnings.

The competition was fierce, but of the five finalists, Professor Ben-Shahar's article was the only one that was in everyone's top two. Thanks to all who participated in the process for selecting our first annual top contracts law review article.  Thanks especially to the blog editors, Eniola Akindemowo, Heidi Anderson, Nancy Kim, and Meredith Miller for reading each of the five finalists and helping to choose the winner.

Congratulations, Professor Ben-Shahar, and thank you for your singular contributions to contracts scholarship.  We look forward to seeing you at the Spring Contracts Conference this weekend.


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