The U.S. Meets the UK: Comparative Contract Law in the 21st Century

The 2016 Law Review Symposium explored the area of common law contracts.

2016 Law Review Symposium
December 06, 2016

On November 19, 2016, The George Washington Law Review held its Fall 2016 Symposium, "Divergence and Reform in the Common Law of Contracts." The symposium was co-hosted by Blake D. Morant, GW Law Dean and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law, Professor Larry DiMatteo of the University of Florida, and Professor Martin Hogg of the University of Edinburgh. Taking a 21st Century approach to comparative issues in contract law, the conference examined the most pressing controversies, debates, and challenges currently shaping the United States and United Kingdom's shared legal tradition in the area of common law contracts.

The conference began with the Keynote Address delivered by the Right Honorable Lord Patrick Hodge, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Lord Hodge framed his remarks around the common law pendulum that swings as judges review and update the law to meet modern needs. Read more about the Keynote Address or watch the video.

The first panel, moderated by The Honorable Barbara Milano Keenan, Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, addressed the new sharing economy and how it has tested—and continues to test—the bounds of contract law. Read more about this panel or watch the video.

The second panel's robust discussion on contractual remedies was moderated by Chen-Wishart, Professor of the Law of Contract and Associate Dean of Graduates at Oxford University. Read more about this panel or watch the video.

Dean Morant began the third panel, “Contract Interpretation and Good Faith,” by introducing and welcoming the panelists, including Lawrence A. Cunningham, the GW Law Henry St. George Tucker III Research Professor of Law. The panel explored the complexities of contract interpretation and good faith. Professor Cunningham discussed his paper, Contract Interpretation: From Winner-Take-All to Right-Tool-for-the-Job, and highlighted how jurisdictional flexibility has led to state courts having seemingly conflicting opinions about what is the proper approach as a result of choosing the “right tool for the job.” Read more about this panel or watch the video.

The final panel assessed the future of consumer contract law in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. The Honorable Carlos Lucero, Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, moderated the discussion featuring Professors Geraint Howells of the City University of Hong Kong and James Nehf of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Read more about this panel.

The participants' answers and discussion will be published in The George Washington Law Review's special symposium issue, Volume 85, Issue 6 (forthcoming 2017).