This is a quick recap of my memories from the contract law class we had yesterday.
1. Modern contract law arose from the merger of two different kinds of sail in during the crusades. These sails allowed for distant, one-hop trade. This created bazaars in the middle east/Mediterranean where merchants met to trade goods from far away. This trade had issues — what happens when a sale has damaged goods, and can’t be easily replaced? No intra-country law could apply. Can’t use the law of any single nation, as the merchants were from many nations. So, a new law arose amongst the merchants — called Law Merchant. Essentially, commercial code. This is from 1300 — 1600 AD, roughly.
2. Law merchant become encoded into English common law starting in the 1600s. England was imperial back then, and needed a way to govern commercial transactions. They pretty much wholesale imported Law Merchant during the mercantile era.
3. Then came capitalism. This changed contract law, but we didn’t really go into how. This lasted until 1929 — the great depression.
4. The new deal brought about changes to contract law. The first restatement was written after 1929. These restatements were affiliated with the ALI.
5. Then came the second restatement. This was in the 1970-1990 timeframe. I don’t recall the genesis of this restatement.( But I suspect technology as the driver ).
6. We’re now in a new period of contract law, after the second restatement. We don’t know what comes next, until the problems arise.
A few thoughts:
Contract law is reactive — it changes to handle the classes of issues occurring at the time. It also changes to accommodate social changes. For example, after the new deal, child labor is essentially gone. So, contracts involving children are now null.
Anyways, thanks for reading!