The Best of Cases, the Worst of Cases

21 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2017

See all articles by Larry T. Garvin

Larry T. Garvin

Ohio State University - Moritz College of Law

Date Written: December 28, 2017


This consists of my lightly edited contributions to a symposium on the best and worst cases in contract law, to be published in the Florida State University Law Review in 2018. The first short essay explores why Kingston v. Preston, Lord Mansfield’s classic opinion on the constructive conditions of exchange, is so good–even though, strictly speaking, it didn’t actually hold what it is credited with holding. The second essay looks at Pinnel’s Case, generally credited, if credited is the word, as the foundation for the despised pre-existing duty rule. Credited, yes–but only as a result of flagrant misinterpretation by later courts; the decision itself was perfectly sound, if rather trivial. Together they display how the common law deals with the needs of society–though change, on the one hand, and pusillanimity, on the other.

Keywords: contracts, history, consideration, legal duty, conditions, Mansfield, Coke

JEL Classification: K10, K12, K19, K20

Suggested Citation

Garvin, Larry T., The Best of Cases, the Worst of Cases (December 28, 2017). Florida State University Law Review, Forthcoming, Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 432, Available at SSRN: or

Larry T. Garvin (Contact Author)

Ohio State University - Moritz College of Law ( email )

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