Friday, September 28, 2012
A student in my Contracts class shared this story with me regarding a recent offer to enter into a unilateral contract. Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, a wealthy Hong Kong-based property developer, has offered a $65 million "reward" to the man who first woos his daughter into a heterosexual marriage and away from her current lesbian partner.
Mr. Chao described his plan to the BBC as follows (he even uses the word "inducement!"): "It is an inducement to attract someone who has the talent but not the capital to start his own business. I don't mind whether he is rich or poor. The important thing is that he is generous and kind-hearted." He further described his daughter, Gigi, as "a very good woman with both talents and looks" who "is devoted to her parents, is generous and does volunteer work."
In an interview with the BBC (scroll down and click play--the file would not embed), Ms. Chao confirmed that her father is indeed "serious" (there goes the Lucy v. Zehmer argument) and that she views his reward offer as an "expression of fatherly love" from the man she talks to "on a daily basis." Ms. Chao admits that potential suitors face an uphill battle given that she already has committed herself to her longtime partner, Sean Eav. However, because she is not legally "married," she would not rule out someone successfully accepting her father's offer. Specifically, when asked by the BBC reporter, "Are you saying it's a waste of time?," she said, "No" and that it would be "inappropriate for me to outright contradict [my father]."
So, from a ContractsProf perspective, it appears that there is a definite offer that can be accepted by only a single person and only via performance. What is unclear to me, however, is whether the mere act of marriage from any male is actually what Mr. Chao seeks. In her BBC interview, Ms. Chao says that she does not know whether her father has received any offers but confirms that she has received many offers made directly to her. So, if a man were to convince Ms. Chao to marry him, and they were to get married, it's not clear (at least not to Gigi Chao) that he would get his $65 million without first convincing Mr. Chao that he's worthy. Absent clear, unequivocal commitment from Mr. Chao, there may not be a definite offer after all.
[Heidi R. Anderson, hat tip to student Ly Tran]
EIGHTH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL
CONFERENCE ON CONTRACTS
Texas Wesleyan School of Law
1515 Commerce Street, Fort Worth Texas 76102
February 22-23, 2013
CALL FOR PAPERS
Submissions are cordially invited for the 8th Annual International Conference on Contracts, the largest annual scholarly and educational conference devoted to Contracts and related areas of commercial law. Papers and works-in-progress are welcome from those who study Contracts from any perspective, whether doctrinal, pedagogical, theoretical, empirical, historical, economic, critical, comparative, or interdisciplinary. Works that take an international or civil law approach are also welcome. Junior scholars are particularly encouraged to participate. Those interested in proposing and organizing panels (3-5 presenters) on specific themes are especially encouraged to do so.
Individual submissions should be made by a brief abstract (one page is sufficient) of the paper or WIP that includes contact information for the author(s). Individual submissions will be placed on panels with like submissions. Panel proposals should include the name and contact information of the moderator or organizer, and a summary of the proposed papers or works in progress. There is no publication commitment for the conference, but organizers of individual panels are free to arrange for publication on their own.
Submissions: Deadline is Monday, December 17, 2012. Proposals submitted earlier will be accepted on a rolling basis. Proposals submitted after the deadline will be accepted on a space-available basis. Submissions should be directed to:
Franklin G. Snyder
Registration: Fee for the Conference is $249 ($299 after January 1, 2013), which includes a Continental breakfast and lunch on both Friday and Saturday, and the Conference Dinner on Friday night. A web site for Conference registration and other information will soon be available..
Accommodations: The conference hotel is the Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel and Spa, which has a special rate of $129/night for those who book before January 21, 2013. The Sheraton is across the street from Texas Wesleyan School of Law. The law school and the hotel are less than a half-hour from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and three blocks from the Intermodal Transportation Center. A free shuttle bus links the school and the hotel with popular Fort Worth destinations including Sundance Square and the Historic Stockyards. Commuter rail service makes popular Dallas destinations such as Dealey Plaza, the Sixth Floor Museum, the Deep Ellum musical scene, and the American Airlines Center easily accessible from the hotel and the law school. Here is a link to reserve rooms at the Sheraton for the Conference.
We look forward to seeing you in Fort Worth!
Prince Saprai (UCL), George Letsas (UCL) and Greg Klass (Georgetown) are organising a conference on the Philosophical Foundations of Contract Law to take place next May (Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May 2013) in London at the University College London Laws Faculty. The organizers will be producing a volume to be published by Oxford University Press from the papers at the conference.
Aditi Bagchi (Fordham)
- Randy Barnett (Georgetown)
- Lisa Bernstein (Chicago)
- Curtis Bridgeman (Florida State)
- Mindy Chen-Wishart (Oxford)
- Charles Fried (Harvard)
- Avery Katz (Columbia)
- Dori Kimel (Oxford)
- Gregory Klass (Georgetown)
- Jody Kraus (Columbia)
- George Letsas (UCL)
- Daniel Markovits (Yale)
- Liam Murphy (NYU)
- David Owens (Reading)
- James Penner (UCL)
- Margaret Jane Radin (Michigan)
- Joseph Raz (Columbia / KCL)
- Prince Saprai (UCL)
- Robert Scott (Columbia)
- Stephen Smith (McGill)
- Nicos Stavropoulos (Oxford)
- Robert Stevens (Oxford)
- Charlie Webb (LSE)
Here is a link to the conference website.
Come for the conference; stay for the Jeremy Bentham auto-icon!
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
We have an especially large collection of new articles this week in large part thanks to the efforts of Jeff Lipshaw and the good people at Suffolk Law who hosted a conference in honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Charles Fried's classic work, Contract as Promise. As the riches below indicate, this conference will provide theoretical fuel to keep contracts profs going for some time to come. Charles Fried is pictured below.
Kevin Banks and Elizabeth Shilton, Corporate Commitments to Freedom of Association: Is There a Role for Enforcement under Canadian Law? 33 Comp. Lab. L. & Pol'y J. 495 (2012)
Curtis Bridgeman, Civil Recourse or Civil Powers? 39 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 1 (2011)
Curtis Bridgeman and John C.P. Goldberg, Do Promises Distinguish Contract from Tort? 45 Suffolk U.L. Rev. 873 (2012)
Thomas V. Burch, Regulating Mandatory Arbitration, 2011 Utah L. Rev. 1309
Zev J. Eigen, When and Why Individuals Obey Contracts: Experimental Evidence of Consent, Compliance, Promise, and Performance, 41 J. Legal Stud. 67(2012)
Roy Kreitner, On the New Pluralism in Contract Theory, 45 Suffolk U.L. Rev. 915 (2012)
Jeffrey M. Lipshaw, Contract as Meaning: An Introduction to "Contract as Promise at 30," 45 Suffolk U.L. Rev. 601 (2012)
Daniel Markovits and Alan Schwartz, The Expectation Remedy and the Promissory Basis of Contract, 45 Suffolk U.L. Rev. 799 (2012)
Nathan B. Oman, Promise and Private Law, 45 Suffolk U.L. Rev. 935-960 (2012)
Nathan B. Oman, Why There Is No Duty to Pay Damages: Powers, Duties, and Private Law. 39 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 137 (2011)
James M. "Jamie" Parker, Jr. and J.K. Leonard. Why Your Secretary Is Really Worth a Million
Dollars: Exploring the Harsh Penalty for Not Proofreading Your Fee Agreements in Anglo-Dutch Petroleum v. Greenberg Peden. 2 St. Mary's J. Legal Mal. & Ethics 104 (2012)
Henry E. Smith, The Equitable Dimension of Contract, 45 Suffolk U.L. Rev. 897-914 (2012)
George Triantis, Promissory Autonomy, Imperfect Courts, and the Immorality of the Expectations Damages Default, 45 Suffolk U.L. Rev. 827-841 (2012)
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
I’m a bit behind in my blogging as I am finishing up a few writing projects. That doesn’t, however, mean that I haven’t found the time to read other people's writing. In fact, I recently received Lawrence Cunningham’s book, Contracts in the Real World: Stories of Popular Contracts and Why They Matter. I suggest that you all run out and order the same (here – I’ve made it easy for you by providing the link). First of all, let me make it clear that I do not know Professor Cunningham. I’ve never even met him although he might have once disagreed with me on a list serve dispute. His book is a very interesting collection of modern day contracts – newsworthy contracts involving current events or celebrities – and he does a brilliant job of tying them in with classic contract law cases. I think it might be fun to fit in a few of these examples to jazz up classroom discussion. For contracts nuts, it’s just plain fun reading. It’s in many ways a staunch defense of contract law, assuring us that it still works and does what it’s supposed to do. I tend to agree when it comes to non-digital contracts. When it comes to digital contracts, however, I think things are a total mess....
Monday, September 24, 2012
Last week, I taught B. Lewis Productions v. Angelou for the first time. For those unfamiliar with the case, Butch Lewis, a boxing promoter, entered into an agreement to be Maya Angelou's exclusive agent for the purpose of the marketing her writings for greeting cards, calendars and other items on which one could slap a few lines of verse. In 1997, Mr. Lewis negotiated a deal with Hallmark on Ms. Angelou's behalf. According to the case, their deal soured in March 1997 when Ms. Angelou saw Mr. Lewis "punctuate a conversation" with a group of white men in Las Vegas by grabbing his crotch. As the court put it, after witnessing this conduct, Ms. Angelou "burned up his [Mr. Lewis's] ears" and told him that their venture was at an end.
Although Ms. Angelou's literary agent wrote to inform Mr. Lewis that Ms. Angelou was not going to pursue a deal with Hallmark, there was some evidence that the two continued to work towards that goal in 1998. In 1999, Ms. Angelou went ahead with the deal on her own while also notifying Mr. Lewis that their agreement had terminated. In 2000, Ms. Angelou signed a deal with Hallmark that gave her a $1 million advance. After Judge Mukasey of the Southern District of New York denied Ms. Angelou and Hallmark's motion for summary judgment, Ms. Angelou settled with Mr. Lewis for $1 million.
Having been my colleague and BFF for five years but now dead to me, Alan White knows a Limerickworthy case when he sees one. So, a bit belatedly, here it is:
B. Lewis Productions v. Angelou Limerick
"Your actions were lewd and obtrusive,"
Said Maya, in language abusive.
But Butch still can sell
Her poems on "Get Well"
Cards, 'cause their deal said exclusive.
Blog Founder and contracts impressario extraordinaire (the Diaghilev of Contracts), Frank Snyder, will be our host at the 8th International Conference on Contracts to be held at the Texas Wesleyan School of Law in Fort Worth, Texas on Friday & Saturday, February 22 & 23, 2013.
A call for papers will be coming out in due course, along with information about registration and conerence hotels. But for now, just put a big red circle around the date.
Frank and his colleagues will have to live up to the very high standards set by previous incarnations of the conference such as: the one held this year in San Diego, where Mel Eisenberg was honored, last year at the Stetson University College of Law, where the conference presentations were upstaged by a shipwreck, and in 2010 at UNLV Law School, where blog contributor Keith Rowley was host.
This year will feature another lifetime achievement honoree and the usual array of contracts law and lore.
So do save the date. Texas awaits