Taking Boilerplate Seriously: Tackling Exploitation in Consumer Contracts

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See all articles by Yehuda Adar

Yehuda Adar

University of Haifa

Shmuel I. Becher

Victoria University of Wellington

Date Written: October 28, 2020


This Article calls for a conceptual shift toward the scrutiny of exploitative consumer standard form contracts. Current approaches to consumer standard form contracts assume that imbalanced and unfair terms can be adequately challenged by aggrieved consumers and effectively scrutinized by vigilant courts. Some even believe that market forces and reputational constraints can deter firms from employing exploitative terms in their form contracts or dissuade them from actually relying on such terms. Criticizing these assumptions, the Article suggests supplementing the current means of addressing opportunistic exploitation in standard consumer contracts with a dynamic preventive machinery.
Specifically, we propose a professional system of administrative oversight over the content of consumer form contracts. The Article demonstrates how such a machinery can efficiently tackle the widespread use of unfair practices as well as unconscionable and plainly illegal terms. While not a panacea, such a regime has the promise of shifting the burden of confronting exploitation in consumer contracts from a feeble and ineffective system of private enforcement to a sophisticated and robust system of public oversight.

Keywords: consumer contracts, boilerplate, unfair terms, illegal terms, unconscionability, exploitative contracts, prevention, private and public enforcement, administrative control

Suggested Citation

Adar, Yehuda and Becher, Shmuel I., Taking Boilerplate Seriously: Tackling Exploitation in Consumer Contracts (October 28, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Yehuda Adar (Contact Author)

University of Haifa ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905
+04 8240633 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.haifa.ac.il

Shmuel I. Becher

Victoria University of Wellington ( email )

P.O. Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

HOME PAGE: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/sacl/about/staff/samuel-becher

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