REVISITING THE CONTRACTS SCHOLARSHIP OF STEWART MACAULAY. Eds Jean Braucher, John Kidwell and William C Whitford Oxford and Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing (, 2013. xiii + 443 pp. ISBN 9781849463010. £60.

AuthorMartin Hogg
Date01 September 2013
Publication Date01 September 2013

The contract scholarship of Stewart Macaulay, whilst familiar to academics in both the US and UK, is unlikely to have been encountered by many practitioners on this side of the Atlantic during their legal studies. This new book, offering a multi-authored retrospective of Macaulay's work, thus offers a useful opportunity to those less familiar with Macaulay to assess the relevance and importance of his scholarship to modern contract law; those already familiar with Macaulay's writing will appreciate the detailed critique of his scholarship contained within the work.

The book comprises fifteen essays by predominantly US contract scholars (as well as two English ones), preceded by reprints of three of Macaulay's influential articles (including his seminal “Non-contractual Relations in Business – A Preliminary Study” (1963) 28 Am Soc Rev 1 (hereafter “Non-Contractual Relations”)) and followed by a bibliography of all of his publications to date. The Preface provides an introduction to the subject of the book: Macaulay is the Wisconsin legal scholar famous for being one of the two main founders of what came to be styled “relational contract theory”, the other being the Scotsman Ian Macneil, who emigrated to the US and became a respected contract scholar (and later, after retiring back to Scotland, the Chief of the Clan Macneil).

“Non-Contractual Relations” was a profoundly influential piece of scholarship. It drew attention to the important way in which much of the regulation of business relationships is undertaken extra-contractually, without recourse to the terms of remedies available under contract, and the way in which parties with established business relations often do not worry about certain infractions of contract terms in the interest of preserving the relationship as a whole. As such, “Non-Contractual Relations” was not really an essay about contract law as traditionally understood, but about the actual relational interaction of parties who happened to be in a contractual relationship: it was an essay on the social and economic realities of relationships made against a background of law.

The book is divided into four principal sections: (1) Relational Contracts and Theory; (2) Contractual Relations between Businesses: Law and Behaviour, (3) Contractual Relations with Individuals: Law and Behaviour; and (4) Relational Critiques of Contract Doctrine. Not all of the essays in these sections can be mentioned individually, but comments on a selection of...

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