Book Reviews

Contract in Context

Publisher: Routledge Law

Authors: Richard Austen-Baker & Qi Zhou

Price: 26.99

Edition: 1st Edition (August 2014)

ISBN: 978-0-415-66317-5

Buy from Routledge Law: Click Here

Because many students study contract law for the first time in their first year of an undergraduate course, there is usually a lesser focus on contract theory.  This, perhaps, explains the limited number of books looking at contract theory and the many more contract law textbooks focussing on teaching students the key principles of contract law (rather than the theory behind those principles).  Contract in Context therefore aims to provide an easy to read and in-depth analysis of the purpose and role of contract law and the theories that surround it.  Thankfully, it largely achieves this aim and is a useful addition to any contract lawyer's library.

Written by two experienced contract law academics, Richard Austen-Baker and Qi Zhou, Contract in Context covers seven chapters: what is contract for? and what is contract law for?; the historical context of contract; the ideological context of contract; classical and neo-classical contract; the relational context of contract; the economic theories of contract law part I; and the economic theories of contract law part II.  While Contract in Context does not follow a standard syllabus approach, it is a manageable size (covering less than 150 pages) meaning it can be excellent preparatory reading for any contract law student.

The importance of placing the law into its context is vitally important if you have to consider, or deal with, cases in appellant courts.  It is often the case that the contextual issues of the law can be overlooked by first instance courts; however, this is often not the case on appeal.  The reason for the law, its aims and its true context is therefore an important skill for any lawyer to learn.  There are few such textbooks looking at contract law theory (and, as the foreword rightly points out, none have been published for a number of years).  This first edition of Contract in Context is therefore timely and an excellent addition to any student's (or practitioner's) contract law library.

Contract in Context is written in a straight-forward and accessible way.  This is some achievement for a text of this type; students often find them rather heavy and difficult to follow.  Its layout is logical and the chapters can be read independently.  It is, however, concise enough to be read from cover to cover (and, if you have time, reading this from cover to cover will be time well-spent).  Because it looks at the principles and context of contract law, rather than the actual law, it also makes it an excellent choice for readers based in any jurisdiction.  It is a worthwhile contribution to the study of contract law; if you buy and read it, you will have a more rounded view of contract law and its context.

Reviewed on 30 November 2014

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