Popular Misconceptions About Contracts
posted by Lawrence Cunningham
My new book, Contracts in the Real World: Stories of Popular Contracts and Why They Matter, has three aims:
* to reveal contract law’s pragmatic, common sense beauty;
* to show the relevance of longstanding principles and famous cases to contemporary problems and disputes in the news; and
* to correct dozens of popular misconceptions about contracts.
In the latter spirit, following is a list of popular misconceptions about contracts. Most are very general while a few are quite specific.
The list is numbered 1-20 but I’ve left 18-20 blank, hoping that you will add at least that many in the responses. I’d also be happy to have any of these stricken or revised. Thanks!
1. Promises to make gifts are legally enforceable.
2. Advertisements create offers that can be accepted to make a binding contract.
3. Clicking “yes” on a terms-of-use icon does not create a binding contract.
4. An airline ticket’s confidentiality clause prevents the airline from sharing personal data.
5. Employees can only be fired for “cause.”
6. A celebrity’s payment to a gadfly to hush up about a private affair creates a valid contract.
7. Gambling contracts are invalid.
8. Promises must be kept, come hell or high water.
9. Caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) rules.
10. Children are responsible for their contracts just as adults are.
11. When someone breaches a contract, courts most often order them to perform it.
12. When courts award money for a breach of contract, the amount includes all losses the breached caused.
13. If the contract says what money should be paid upon breach, courts award that amount.
14. To be valid, a contract must be in writing and signed or notarized.
15. Contracts can’t be changed once they are made.
16. Promises must be performed to a T so that shortcomings forfeit all rights to any promise the other side made.
17. No one but the parties to a contract can have any rights or duties under it.