Book Reviews

The Law of Contract

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Authors: Janet O'Sullivan & Jonathan Hilliard

Price: 25.99

Edition: 6th Edition (April 2014)

ISBN: 978-0-19-968693-3

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 sixth 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; privitiy; terms of the contract I; terms of the contract II: exemption clauses and 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 is both well-balanced and superbly written.  It impressively provides a succinct narrative on basic contractual principles while, at the same time, expanding on those issues requiring a fuller consideration.  The layout is excellent with the material being clearly set-out and well cross-referenced.  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 Law Commission's revised recommendations from March 2013 and important decisions from the Court including Limited v Blackpool Airport Limited [2012] EWCA Civ 417.

There are few, if any, better introductory contract law texts out there than The Law of Contract.  The material is succinct and accessible.  The authors' mixture of academic and practical experience means it is also fluidly written (which makes reading this text a joy).  At a little over 25, I recommend The Law of Contract to anyone studying contract law or any practitioner who needs a handy text to quickly look-up important issues.  Without it, a significant amount of time will no doubt be spent researching the law in more detailed texts.  It is certainly a text which I do keep, and will continue to keep, close to hand (and one which I consult on a regular basis).

Reviewed on 24 May 2015

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