Kronman on Contract Law and Distributive Justice

Journal of Contract Law, Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2, pp. 105-119, April 2007

14 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2009 Last revised: 16 May 2011

See all articles by Martin Hevia

Martin Hevia

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella


This paper examines Anthony Kronman’s idea that the voluntary basis of contracts should be conceived wholly in terms of a conception of distributive justice. For Kronman, voluntariness cannot be understood simply in terms of the idea of individual freedom; for him, in order to determine whether one party voluntarily consented to a particular contract or not, we have to determine whether the other party took advantage of her in an impermissible way. I argue that this way of looking at private transactions is problematic. My claim is that Kronman´s focus on distributive justice inhibits him from explaining the private nature of contractual transactions, which is precisely what he claims to be addressing. In particular, I argue that Kronman’s distributive approach cannot explain neither the privity rule, which is a central doctrine in contract law, nor the role of consent. Finally, drawing on the work of John Rawls, and against Kronman, I will suggest a different and objective account of justice in which the subjective desires of individuals plays no role in determining whether contracts should be enforced.

Keywords: Kronman, Contract Law, Distributive Justice, Paretianism, Rawls, Privity Rule, Consent

Suggested Citation

Hevia, Martin, Kronman on Contract Law and Distributive Justice. Journal of Contract Law, Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2, pp. 105-119, April 2007. Available at SSRN:

Martin Hevia (Contact Author)

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella ( email )

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