An Introduction to Alternative Regimes of Contract Law

AuthorFranklin G. Snyder, Mark Edwin Burge
An Introduction to
Common Law is the Beginning of American Contract Law, not the End. This
course focuses on the common law of contracts because that law is a fundamental
foundation for many advanced substantive areas of law. The common law is also the
default law of contracts that will apply where it has not been displaced by other law.
Nearly every aspect of contract law has, however, been augmented to a greater or
lesser degree by statutes relating to particular kinds of contracts. Where such
statutes apply, the common law is changed. Real estate contracts, insurance
contracts, employment contracts, professional services contracts, construction
contracts, and consumer contracts are all are rooted in the common law of contracts,
but all also have distinctive statutory schemes. After the first year of law school, you
will have the opportunity to study some of these specialized areas
Specialized regimes of contract law can vary greatly from state to state, but
two regimes are both important and ubiquitous enough that they are universally
recognized as an important part of American contract law: (1) the Uniform
Commercial Code—or as most every lawyer also knows it, the “UCC.”
and (2) the
United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goodsmost
frequently referred to as the “CISG.” The CISG is an international treaty to which
the United States is a party. Having been ratified by the United States Senate, the
CISG is binding federal law under the Constitution, and you can read its provisions
much as you read a statute. In a global economy, both of these legal structures are
extremely important, impacting trade and commerce locally, nationally, and
internationally. The three units in this section explore the ways in which the UCC
and the CISG vary the common law rules of contract.
[The acronym is pronounced “YOU-SEE-SEE,” and not “UCK.” Many law students over the
years have, however, decided the latter is more descriptive of their personal interactions wi th the
code. We hope you won’t necessarily fall into that category. – Eds.]

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