Teaching the law of contract in a world of new transactional technologies

Authors: Brownsword, R.

Pages: 112-128

Publisher: Taylor and Francis

ISBN: 9781138036925

DOI: 10.4324/9781315178189

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Authors: Brownsword, R.

Pages: 112-128

ISBN: 9781138036925

DOI: 10.4324/9781315178189

© 2019 selection and editorial matter, Warren Swain and David Campbell. Many years ago, a colleague liked to tease me by saying that we teachers of the law of contract spenttoo much time asking our students to think about improbable scenarios such as what the legal position might beshould a snail consume a letter of acceptance in a pillar box. Nowadays, the same point might be made even more tellingly by asking why we spend so much time teaching the finer points of the postal rule when people increasingly communicate their offers and acceptances by means other than letters. If once I would have been dismissive in my response to the suggestion that the law of contract is of diminishing relevance to the regulation of transactions, I would now take that proposition much more seriously – and it would be the emergence of a raft of new transactional technologies together with the increasing automation of transactions that would give me pause. Never mind about snails and letters of acceptance, what do we make of the law of contract when offers are being initiated and accepted by machines, with the deal being done in less than a fraction of a second (compare Schammo 2008)?.

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