Document Type

Article

Comments

Non-Binding Promises as Consideration, 26 Columbia Law Review 550 (1926)

Abstract

In thousands of cases it has been dogmatically stated that both parties to a contract must be bound or neither is bound. So convincing was this dictum that it has been a painfully slow process to re-introduce to the legal profession the unilateral contract-the only kind of contract that our ancestors knew a few centuries ago. It is still generally believed, even by those who well understand the unilateral contract, that the dictum is quiie correct with respect to bilateral contracts; and the suggestion of Professor Oliphant that this may never be so came as a surprise. Everyone had known, indeed, that the dictum did not fully apply to contracts between an infant and an adult, contracts within the Statute of Frauds signed by one party only, and contracts induced by the fraud of one party; but it was loosely supposed that these cases could be harmonized with the dictum by use of the magic words "voidable" and "unenforceable." Both parties were "bound"; but one had the power of avoidance of the whole, upon the exercise of which neither was bound. It can easily be shown that this analysis is unsound in very many cases;' and we must admit that the dictum is subject to many clear exceptions. Have the exceptions, in this case as in sa many others, come to occupy the whole field?

Date of Authorship for this Version

1926

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