Reflections - Models of Contract Law I
Our findings contradict common assumptions about the inferior utility of broad principles. We are currently conducting further ARC funded research, Models of Contract Law II, exploring the utility of broad principles and ideas about its cognitive basis.
Our findings were replicated in a smaller-scale study, Models of Contract Law III. A paper, co-authored with Andrew Heathcote and Natalie Close, reporting the results of this study and discussing the explanatory potential of coherence based reasoning, will be presented at the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society in Amsterdam, 30 July - 1 August, 2009: Coherence based reasoning and models of contract law.
We are aware that there is a long-established and ongoing debate about the optimal complexity of legal rules, conducted with the aid of distinctions between 'general' and 'specific' rules, 'standards' and 'rules', 'principles' and 'rules', and other like distinctions. Our aim has been to make an empirical contribution to this debate.
Our finding that broad principles can provide a reliable guide to contracting parties, lawyers and courts, encouraged us to explore the possibility of codifying a Global Law of Contract. An effective global law of contract is clearly unattainable without the formulation of, and agreement on, broad principles. The Concordance shows that the contract laws of China, EU, USA and Russia have many common elements.