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Poole's Textbook on Contract Law

Poole's Textbook on Contract Law (15th edn)

Robert Merkin QC and Séverine Saintier
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date: 17 July 2024

p. 11. Introduction to the law of contractlocked

p. 11. Introduction to the law of contractlocked

  • Robert Merkin, Robert MerkinProfessor of Commercial Universities of Reading and Exeter
  • Séverine SaintierSéverine SaintierAssociate Professor in Commercial Law Exeter Law School, University of Exeter
  •  and Jill PooleJill Poole50th Anniversary Professor of Commercial Law and Head of Aston Law Deputy Dean, Aston Business School, Aston University


Course-focused and comprehensive, Poole’s Textbook on Contract Law provides an accessible overview of the key areas on the law curriculum. Contracts are legally enforceable agreements intended for planned exchanges that are regulated by the principles of contract law. This chapter looks at some of the main theories underpinning the development of English contract law and examines the nature of contractual liability. Contractual obligations arise largely from party agreement and this distinguishes contractual liability from liability in tort. Given the continued relevance of English law in a globalized world (in spite of the UK exiting the European Union), this chapter also briefly introduces the various attempts to produce a set of harmonized principles such as the Common European Sales Law, along with the impact of other international developments including the growth in e-commerce and electronic communications. Moreover, the chapter analyses the most significant European directives and their effect on the development of English contract law, especially in the context of consumer contracts. The implementation of these European directives has resulted in the introduction of the concept of ‘good faith’ into English contract law. Given the increasing importance of good faith as a concept, especially when in the context of ‘a relational contract’, the chapter gives detailed discussion on the scope of and application of good faith in performance of the contract. Finally, the chapter considers the implementation of the Consumer Rights Directive in a number of statutory instruments and the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

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