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This lecture was delivered on 17 March 2010. Alan Schwartz, Sterling Professor of Law; Professor of Management, Yale University EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE, FLORENCE MAX WEBER PROGRAMME.


This Lecture argues that much of the contract law in the cases (the US, the UK and Canada) and in the codes (Europe and Latin America) is unnecessary. To say that a law is unnecessary is to say that it does not perform a useful social function. The argument below thus sets out the functions that contract laws today are thought to serve, and then shows that many of those functions either should not be performed at all or should be performed by institutions other than courts. Also, the unnecessary functions increase transaction costs because parties must contract away from or otherwise adjust to them.

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