Contract Law and Inequality

107 Iowa Law Review (Forthcoming)

NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 21-11

60 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2021 Last revised: 20 Jul 2021

See all articles by Kevin E. Davis

Kevin E. Davis

New York University School of Law

Mariana Pargendler

Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School at São Paulo; New York University School of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute

Date Written: June 2, 2021

Abstract

Does contract law have any role to play in tackling economic inequality, one of the most pressing problems of our time? The orthodox answer to this question is no: contract law should promote autonomy, efficiency and/or justice in exchange, while distributive objectives should be dealt with exclusively through the fiscal system. Critics of this orthodoxy struggle with the prevailing understanding that contract law around the world has converged on doctrines that are insensitive to distributive considerations. This Article contributes to this debate by showing how courts in South Africa, Brazil and Colombia—prominent developing countries from different legal traditions—have recently diverged from orthodoxy to embrace the task of using contract law to address inequality. The emergence of contract law heterodoxy in developing countries draws attention to the existing, if more limited, instances of heterodoxy in the contract laws of the United States and Europe and to the stakes of contract law more generally. This analysis highlights how mounting inequality may increase the appeal of contract law heterodoxy and suggests that the present reign of contract law orthodoxy is neither universal nor inevitable.

Suggested Citation

Davis, Kevin E. and Pargendler, Mariana, Contract Law and Inequality (June 2, 2021). 107 Iowa Law Review (Forthcoming), NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 21-11, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3860204

Kevin E. Davis (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
Vanderbilt Hall, Room 335
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-992-8843 (Phone)

Mariana Pargendler

Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School at São Paulo ( email )

R. Rocha, 233, Bela Vista
São Paulo, 01330-000
Brazil

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

European Corporate Governance Institute ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
214
Abstract Views
595
rank
178,366
PlumX Metrics