Contracts Chapter 1 Introduces the Essay

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All other issues are derived from this rule. Many of the modern contracts have express conditions, which are explicit contractual provisions that the parties need to abide by. The related elements that this incurs are detailed in the subchapter referring to express conditions. An interesting element of contract performances is those particular contracts that are divisible. In those cases, the parties' performance can be apportioned into pairs of matching or corresponding parts.

The part of this chapter discussing breaches of contracts starts with a classification of breaches into material and minor breaches, with each of the two being discussed in detail. Anticipatory breach is referred to and is defined and categorized in another part of the chapter.

Chapter 6 discusses general remedies for contracts and starts with basic measures that can be undertaken. The damage measures are described as being determined either based on the expectation of damages, or as restitutionary and reliance damages -- all three are instruments through which the courts can decide what the person who has suffered through the breach of contract can receive.

Logically, the chapter continues to detail the situations where the expectation damages are limited and to show what these limits are and how they are determined. The principle listed in Hadley vs. Baxendale is the basis for such limitations and mentions the conditions in which the damages can be recovered by the party injured by the breach of contract. The chapter further discusses how the expectation damages are reached in particular cases, such as the sale of goods (the book is as detailed as ever, determining what the damages are both in the case of a breach by the seller and in the situation when it is the buyer who breaches the contract), the sale of realty (again with the specificities of being on the buyer or the seller side) or employment contracts.

Much of the rest of chapter 6 refers to particular categories of damages, including nominal damages, liquidated damages, punitive and restitutionary damages or damages for emotional distress. The chapter is very detailed and includes all relevant information on the issue at hand, almost as if the writers are keen to cover all the particular elements of a situation and to ensure that nothing is left out.


The Gilbert Law Summaries on Contracts is much on the line of what the other books in the series have accustomed the readers with. This means a very well structured textbook, with an in-detail approach aimed at both discussing the most important elements in contracts (and in contractual agreements) and providing an analysis of the many exceptions that appear in particular situations.

Each chapter starts with a general chapter approach part in which the authors point out to some of the most important ideas that will be used in the chapter. The objective of this part is to provide the reader a presentation of the framework of the chapter. For the reader, this is useful, mainly because it is one of the competitive advantages of the Gilbert Law Summaries and, on the same lines, of the Contracts book as well: the capacity to synthesize information and to allow the reader to see almost an entire chapter through one glance.

In all worthiness, some of the chapter approach frameworks may be oversynthetic to remain useful, unless the reader has some previous knowledge of the respective notions. For example, the first chapter deals with the notion of consideration and, while the subchapters are clear enough in terms of meaning and application (bargain promises, accord and satisfaction and waiver), the last subchapters denote purely legal notions. This is in no way a potential problem: the reader can switch from one subchapter to the other and quickly jump to the section that requires further understanding, which is always useful.

Subsequently, some of the other chapters contain an introduction, which outlays the main elements of definition and consideration. The first chapter is again a useful one to exemplify this matter of fact. The topic of the chapter is consideration, so the chapter describes, in the beginning, the importance of consideration in the contractual relations (going through this first chapter, this becomes quite obvious) and subsequently moves on to define the notion of consideration through several different approaches, including the benefit/detriment approach and the bargain approach. As usual, each definition/approach in part is clearly defined, then commented and exemplified.

Despite the comment related to the oversynthetism of some of the chapters, most of the book is very solid in terms of the information that is offered. One of the things that is particularly useful are the numerous examples of the different situations, exceptions or simple legal observations mentioned throughout the book. For a student and a reader alike, it is usually much simpler to understand a particular legal issue if this is transposed into practice and everyday life. The examples abound, but one such case is on page 27 of the book, where some exceptions to the rules regarding the performance of preexisting contractual duty for increased payment are described. In term of the situation where there is promise of a different performance, the example comes to show how this occurs in the case of a builder vs. owner situation (another great thing about the examples is that they are so reflective of what is going on in our everyday lives). Then, each of the other exceptions is completed with great, reflective examples.

Referring to examples, occasionally these are compiled into a table that contains all necessary information and the appropriate situation for each category in part. Such a case is the table with examples of illusory and nonillusory promises. As always in the book, the table is conceived to be very intuitive and to allow the reader to immediately grasp and understand the notions. As such, it is divided into two columns, presenting language that could be problematic and where no consideration may be involved, vs. valid language, with clear situations of consideration. In each case, there are examples of statements that could be included in each category. This is extremely helpful, because the nuances are sometimes very hard to discern: in the first case, the language is validated if there is a specific mention of a requirement or output limitation rather than the promise to perform an act simply related to one's desire. In pure language, the difference will basically come from the difference between the verbs desire and require.

Probably, for a law book, the best evaluation regarding its performance as a teaching instrument is not how well it does with law students, but rather with amateurs who are just being introduced to legal studies. Given this consideration, Gilbert passes with honors such a test and, most likely, the reason for that is that it goes the extra mile not only to list and define, but rather to explain and, even more importantly, to exemplify. With some of the textbooks, there is an occasional problem with them being too academic and not sufficiently customized for the category of individuals they are addressing. This is definitely not the case with Gilbert's "Contracts," where the categories of potential consumers are clearly identified and targeted.

There is a final evaluation that is worth mentioning. The book has a very natural and logical flow to it. This means that the chapters are laid out in a manner in which the reader can understand more and more about the subject at hand, but can also do this in a gradual manner, with the elements making a logical connection to one another. For example, the first chapter is on the notion of consideration because so much of the contracts theory is based on this and on bargain promises -- it thus makes sense to look into this before explaining parties' obligations or issues of performance and breach. Whether a student or just someone who wants to find out more about contracts, the manner in which the book is laid out helps the learning process. This is an additional argument to what has been previously mentioned: the book targets all individuals, both those learning for the first time and those who are already in the learning process. For the latter category, the fact that the book is so well divided between…[continue]

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