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Foundational Principles of Contract Law$
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Melvin A. Eisenberg

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199731404

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199731404.001.0001

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Relational Contracts

Relational Contracts

Chapter:
(p.733) Fifty-Four Relational Contracts
Source:
Foundational Principles of Contract Law
Author(s):

Melvin A. Eisenberg

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199731404.003.0054

Chapter 54 concerns relational contracts. Classical contract law was implicitly based on a paradigm consisting of a bargain made between strangers transacting on a perfect market, and focused on the static instant of contract formation, rather than dynamic processes such as the evolution of a contractual relationship. Relational-contract theory rejects the stranger-in-a-perfect-market paradigm and the static conception of contract law. Instead, it is based on a paradigm of a contractual transaction between actors who are in an ongoing and dynamic relationship. The identification of relational contracts as an economic and sociological entity is desirable. However, a theory of relational contracts requires the formulation of a body of legal rules applicable to, and only to, relational contracts. This is a place to which relational-contract theory has not gone and cannot go.

Keywords:   relational contracts, classical contract law, perfect markets, bargains between strangers, ongoing relationship

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