Instructor(s): Stephen Waddams

For graduate students, the course number is LAW5060H.

It is something of a curiosity to find the phrase sanctity of contracts still in frequent use in an era in which very little remains sacred. Even allowing that there are strong reasons to favour enforcement of contracts, it would be surprising if they were so strong as to outweigh every other consideration of justice and policy. This course addresses the extent to which Anglo-Canadian law has, in practice, adhered to a strict doctrine of enforcement of contracts; looking at the matter from the other side, the question is the extent to which exceptions have encroached on the principle of strict enforcement, and whether a principle can be identified to support the exceptions. One dimension of the course is historical, examining decisions and writings from the seventeenth century to the present, but also including recent history. Another dimension is the assessment of current law from the point of view of practical coherence, a concept that includes the avoidance of rationally indefensible distinctions between similar cases. A third dimension concerns the balance between assertions of sanctity of contracts on the one hand, and its many exceptions, on the other, from the points of view of fairness, good faith, unjust enrichment, and abuse of rights.

will be by paper of 6,000 - 7,500 words (90%) and a class presentation on the paper or a related topic (10%). Students may expand the paper to a supervised upper year research paper of about 10,000 words. The course satisfies the perspective requirement.

At a Glance

Second Term
Perspective course


15 JD


T: 8:30 - 10:20