Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 1990

Abstract

"Law and economics" has been hailed by its supporters as the only intellectually valid means for analyzing legal issues. Its critics have dismissed law and economics as amoral and biased against the poor. Ironically, each side in this frequently acrimonious debate has much to offer those in the opposing camp. This Article reflects a modest attempt to bridge the chasm.

One need not believe that money is everything in order to believe that the effect a given legal rule has on total societal wealth is relevant in decisionmaking. But this admission does not consign one to a legal world where the wealthy win as a matter of right and legal rulings are sold to the highest bidder. It may be surprising to the detractors of law and economics, but the proper application of principles of economic analysis need not lead to anti-poor results. If all relevant factors are considered, the concerns of fairness and of efficiency may coincide more often than partisans of either side in this debate have cared to admit. This article shows how a proper application of the principles of law and economics to the puzzle of interpreting consumer form contracts leads to a nuanced result that protects both parties to the transaction.

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