25 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2006 Last revised: 14 May 2020
We have faced a situation like this before, decades ago. As business-to-business commerce became more common in the middle of the 20th Century, companies began putting standard contract terms on the back of their purchase orders and shipment invoices. When each side to a contract used such a form, courts had to confront the question of whose form controlled. After unsuccessful judicial experimentation with a variety of rules, the Uniform Commercial Code resolved this battle of the forms by adopting a compromise under which if the terms conflicted, neither party's terms became part of the contract unless the party demonstrated its willingness to forego the deal over it. Rather, the default rules of contract law applied where the parties' standard forms disagreed, but where neither party in fact insisted on those terms.
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