Book Reviews

The Law of Contract

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Authors: Janet O'Sullivan & Jonathan Hilliard

Price: 26.99

Edition: 7th Edition (March 2016)

ISBN: 978-0-19-874881-6

Buy from OUP: Click Here

The importance of understanding the basics of contract law cannot be overstated because it underpins, and intertwines, with many other areas of law.  Because contract law is often one of the first subjects students study at undergraduate level, it is therefore important to pick the right textbook (and there are so many to choose from).  Being part of Oxford University Press' Core Text Series, The Law of Contract by Janet O'Sullivan and Jonathan Hilliard aims to provide an essential guide for undergraduate and GDL students.  To my mind, there are very few which are better than The Law of Contract: it provides one of the clearest and most coherent introductions to this fascinating and important area of law.

The Law of Contract, now in its seventh edition, is split into nineteen chapters: general themes and issues; offer and acceptance I: general principles; offer and acceptance II: three applications of general principles; certainty; contracts which fail to materialise; consideration and estoppel; privity; terms of the contract I; terms of the contract II: common law and statutory control on unfair terms; misrepresentation and non-disclosure; duress; undue influence; unconscionable bargains; common mistake; frustration; discharge of a contract for breach; remedies I: compensatory damages; remedies II: specific remedies; and remedies III: other non-compensatory remedies.  There are also two chapters on the Online Resource Centre ("ORC"): incapacity; and illegality and public policy.

The Law of Contract has also been both well-balanced and superbly written; and this seventh edition is no exception.  It continues to impressively provides a succinct narrative on basic contractual principles while, at the same time, expanding on those issues requiring a fuller consideration.  The material being clearly set-out and well cross-referenced allowing further research.  Each chapter importantly includes a summary and suggestions for further reading: this is ideal for independent research.  This latest edition also seamlessly incorporates the latest developments in contract law including the Supreme Court's decision on so called 'penalty' clauses in Cavendish Square Holdings BV v El Makdessi [2015] UKSC 57.

There are few, if any, better introductory contract law texts than The Law of Contract.  The material is (and always has been) succinct and accessible.  The authors' mixture of academic and practical experience means the key issues are given sufficient analysis (which is often a problem for introductory texts).  Its price means it provides excellent value for money.  If you are a student, you should not be without it.  If you are a practitioner, it should be a text which remains close to hand.  If you do not have a copy, you will undoubtedly spend more time researching the law in more detailed texts.  I continue to keep this text close to hand and consult it on a regular basis.

Reviewed on 5 February 2017

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