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Cover Poole's Casebook on Contract Law

10. Duress, undue influence, and unconscionable bargains  

Robert Merkin and Séverine Saintier

Poole’s Casebook on Contract Law provides a comprehensive selection of case law that addresses all aspects of the subject encountered on undergraduate courses. This chapter examines further vitiating factors which relate to the way in which the contract was entered into and render it voidable. It discusses the doctrines of duress and undue influence and whether contracts are affected by a general doctrine of unconscionability relating to the manner of formation and content relative to the nature and position of the contracting parties. The doctrine of economic duress allows for any contract to be set aside where unlawful threats to financial position were made in order to secure agreement. This doctrine is still evolving but represents a mechanism to prevent the enforceability of promises not freely given. Under the doctrine of undue influence, a contract may be set aside if one party has put unfair and improper pressure on the other in the negotiations leading up to the contract. The courts of equity have developed undue influence as one of the grounds of relief to prevent abuse of the influence of one person over another, particularly where the influence results from the nature of the relationship between the parties. The chapter examines types of undue influence, actual undue influence, presumed (or evidential) undue influence, undue influence exercised by a third party, the legal effect of undue influence, and the relationship between undue influence and unconscionability.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Casebook on Contract Law

10. Duress, undue influence, and unconscionable bargains  

Robert Merkin KC, Séverine Saintier, and Jill Poole

Poole’s Casebook on Contract Law provides a comprehensive selection of case law that addresses all aspects of the subject encountered on undergraduate courses. This chapter examines further vitiating factors which relate to the way in which the contract was entered into and render it voidable. It discusses the doctrines of duress and undue influence and whether contracts are affected by a general doctrine of unconscionability relating to the manner of formation and content relative to the nature and position of the contracting parties. The doctrine of economic duress allows for any contract to be set aside where unlawful threats to financial position were made in order to secure agreement. This doctrine is still evolving but represents a mechanism to prevent the enforceability of promises not freely given. Under the doctrine of undue influence, a contract may be set aside if one party has put unfair and improper pressure on the other in the negotiations leading up to the contract. The courts of equity have developed undue influence as one of the grounds of relief to prevent abuse of the influence of one person over another, particularly where the influence results from the nature of the relationship between the parties. The chapter examines types of undue influence, actual undue influence, presumed (or evidential) undue influence, undue influence exercised by a third party, the legal effect of undue influence, and the relationship between undue influence and unconscionability.

Chapter

Cover Contract Law

9. Incorporation of Terms  

This chapter discusses the incorporation of terms into a contract. Three principal options are available to ensure the incorporation of terms, the first of which is to make sure that the other party to the contract signs the document that contains all the relevant terms. A party is generally bound by terms he has signed, whether or not he has read them. The second option is to take reasonable steps to bring the terms to the notice of the other party. In order to be effective the notice must have been given at or before the time of contracting, in a document that was intended to have contractual effect, and reasonable steps must have been taken to bring the terms to the attention of the other party. The third option is incorporation by course of dealing or by custom. In order to constitute a ‘course of dealing’ there must have been a series of transactions between the parties that was both ‘consistent’ and ‘regular’.

Chapter

Cover O'Sullivan & Hilliard's The Law of Contract

11. Undue influence  

Titles in the Core Text series take the reader straight to the heart of the subject, providing focused, concise, and reliable guides for students at all levels. This chapter examines undue influence in a contract, which is a vitiating factor and also a ground of restitution. It explains that undue influence is hard to define and can more easily be recognised when found than exhaustively analysed in the abstract. This chapter investigates how undue influence is proved by means of a rebuttable presumption based on a relationship of trust and confidence coupled with a transaction that calls for an explanation, and how the resulting presumption is rebutted. It then covers the remedy of rescission for undue influence. Finally it explores undue influence in three-party cases, where relief depends on whether the contracting party had notice, actual or constructive, of the undue influence and whether it had taken reasonable steps.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Contract Law

Interfoto Picture Library Ltd v Stiletto Visual Programmes Ltd [1989] QB 433  

Essential Cases: Contract Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Interfoto Picture Library Ltd v Stiletto Visual Programmes Ltd [1989] QB 433. The document also includes supporting commentary from author Nicola Jackson.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Contract Law

Parker v The South Eastern Railway Company (1877) 2 CPD 416  

Essential Cases: Contract Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Parker v The South Eastern Railway Company (1877) 2 CPD 416. The document also includes supporting commentary from author Nicola Jackson.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Contract Law 5e

Interfoto Picture Library Ltd v Stiletto Visual Programmes Ltd [1989] QB 433  

Essential Cases: Contract Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Interfoto Picture Library Ltd v Stiletto Visual Programmes Ltd [1989] QB 433. The document also includes supporting commentary from author Nicola Jackson.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Contract Law 5e

Parker v The South Eastern Railway Company (1877) 2 CPD 416  

Essential Cases: Contract Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Parker v The South Eastern Railway Company (1877) 2 CPD 416. The document also includes supporting commentary from author Nicola Jackson.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Casebook on Contract Law

5. Content of the contract and principles of interpretation  

Robert Merkin and Séverine Saintier

Poole’s Casebook on Contract Law provides a comprehensive selection of case law that addresses all aspects of the subject encountered on undergraduate courses. This chapter examines what the parties to a contract have undertaken to do; that is, the terms of the contract, and the principles determining how the courts interpret the meaning of those contractual terms. It considers whether pre-contractual statements are terms or mere representations. The chapter then turns to written contracts, focusing on the parol evidence rule, entire agreement clauses, and the effect of signature on the contractual document. It also discusses oral contracts and incorporation of written terms in such contracts by means of signature, reasonable notice, consistent course of dealing, and common knowledge of the parties. In addition to express terms, this chapter looks at how terms are implied, particularly terms implied by the courts—terms implied in law and terms implied in fact. There is discussion of the typical implied terms in sale and supply contracts in the B2B and B2C context. Finally, this chapter focuses on the principles governing the interpretation of contractual terms.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Casebook on Contract Law

5. Content of the contract and principles of interpretation  

Robert Merkin KC, Séverine Saintier, and Jill Poole

Poole’s Casebook on Contract Law provides a comprehensive selection of case law that addresses all aspects of the subject encountered on undergraduate courses. This chapter examines what the parties to a contract have undertaken to do; that is, the terms of the contract, and the principles determining how the courts interpret the meaning of those contractual terms. It considers whether pre-contractual statements are terms or mere representations. The chapter then turns to written contracts, focusing on the parol evidence rule, entire agreement clauses, and the effect of signature on the contractual document. It also discusses oral contracts and incorporation of written terms in such contracts by means of signature, reasonable notice, consistent course of dealing, and common knowledge of the parties. In addition to express terms, this chapter looks at how terms are implied, particularly terms implied by the courts—terms implied in law and terms implied in fact. There is discussion of the typical implied terms in sale and supply contracts in the B2B and B2C context. Finally, this chapter focuses on the principles governing the interpretation of contractual terms.

Chapter

Cover Koffman, Macdonald & Atkins' Law of Contract

9. Exemption clauses  

This chapter begins the discussion of unfair terms. It deals with the common law rules relating to exemption clauses, and introduces the problems, as well as the benefits of standard form contracts. It looks at the common law rules dealing with incorporation and construction (interpretation) generally, and their use by the courts to deal with unfair exemption clauses, and the evolution of the use of such approaches in the light of legislative policing. In particular, it deals with incorporation by signature, notice (including the ‘red hand’ rule), and a course of dealing. It looks at construction post-UCTA (Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977), and post-Investors, particularly Wood v Capita and decisions since. The Canada Steamship rules and the distinction between limitation and exclusion clauses are noted. The tension between freedom of contract and protecting the party with weaker bargaining power is emphasized. The chapter addresses how the Consumer Rights Act 2015 has impacted the law.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Textbook on Contract Law

5. Content of the contract and principles of interpretation  

Robert Merkin, Séverine Saintier, and Jill Poole

Course-focused and comprehensive, Poole’s Textbook on Contract Law provides an accessible overview of the key areas on the law curriculum. This chapter explores how the terms of the parties’ agreement (that is, the contractual promise to be performed) are identified and how the courts interpret the meaning of those terms. It considers the status of statements made prior to the conclusion of the contract (as terms or representations) and why this matters. The parol evidence rule applies where the contract is written and provides that the writing represents the entire contract. This definition is flawed, however, because it allows the rule to be sidestepped by defining the contract as partly written and partly oral. Alternatively, an oral term can take effect as a collateral contract, which is separate to any written contract to which the parol evidence rule applies. The effect of the parol evidence rules can be achieved by incorporating an entire agreement clause. This chapter also considers the effect and impact of a no oral modification clause (or NOM). This chapter examines methods of achieving incorporation of terms such as signature, reasonable notice (or a higher standard of notice if the term is onerous or unusual), consistent course of dealing and common knowledge of the parties. In addition to the express terms, there may be terms implied by custom, by courts or by statute. Finally, the chapter considers the principles on which contracts are interpreted including the relevance, or otherwise, of pre-contractual negotiations.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Textbook on Contract Law

5. Content of the contract and principles of interpretation  

Robert Merkin KC, Séverine Saintier, and Jill Poole

Course-focused and comprehensive, Poole’s Textbook on Contract Law provides an accessible overview of the key areas of the law curriculum. This chapter explores how the terms of the parties’ agreement (that is, the contractual promise to be performed) are identified and how the courts interpret the meaning of those terms. It considers the status of statements made prior to the conclusion of the contract (as terms or representations) and why this matters. The parol evidence rule applies where the contract is written and provides that the writing represents the entire contract. This definition is flawed, however, because it allows the rule to be sidestepped by defining the contract as partly written and partly oral. Alternatively, an oral term can take effect as a collateral contract, which is separate to any written contract to which the parol evidence rule applies. The effect of the parol evidence rules can be achieved by incorporating an entire agreement clause. This chapter also considers the effect and impact of a no oral modification clause (or NOM). This chapter examines methods of achieving incorporation of terms such as signature, reasonable notice (or a higher standard of notice if the term is onerous or unusual), consistent course of dealing and common knowledge of the parties. In addition to the express terms, there may be terms implied by custom, by courts or by statute. Finally, the chapter considers the principles on which contracts are interpreted including the relevance, or otherwise, of pre-contractual negotiations.