Consumer Contracts Posts

Incorporation of Standard Contract Terms on Websites

The draft of the American Law Institute’s Restatement of Consumer Contracts reflects the jurisdiction of the US courts on the ‘adoption’ (as the draft calls it) of standard contract terms into consumer contracts. This draft is of great value to European lawyers in understanding US developments, but it may also stimulate a reflection on the state and possible evolution of European legal systems.

Consumer Contracts and the Restatement Project

The Restatement project presumes the exercise of nonpartisan judgment. Some criticisms of the draft are more political tracts than analytic critiques. Because the Draft does a good job analyzing and distilling the law, the real question in this debate is whether the ALI and the Restatement project as a whole can withstand efforts to use the tools and standards of retail politics to defeat the analytic approach of the Draft. To the extent such efforts succeed, the Restatement concept as a whole will fail.

Re: State AG’s Letter re the Tentative Draft of Restatement of the Law, Consumer Contracts

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Twenty-three State Attorneys General circulated a letter urging Members to withhold support from the Restatement of the Law, Consumer Contracts. The criticism expressed in the AGs’ letter is founded on a misunderstanding of the rules in the draft Restatement.

Empiricism and Privacy Policies in the Restatement of Consumer Contract Law and The Faulty Foundation of the Draft Restatement of Consumer Contracts

“Empiricism and Privacy Policies in the Restatement of Consumer Contract Law” (Empiricism) asks the wrong question and takes the wrong approach to answering that question. A second article in same issue of the Journal, “The Faulty Foundation of the Draft Restatement of Consumer Contracts” (Faulty Foundation) has similar flaws.  Both articles misconceive and overstate the role of “counting” in the preparation of the Restatement, as the Reporters emphasize that the Restatement follows the traditional  ALI approach, which is based on a broad review of court decisions.

October 2018 Council Updates

During its meeting in New York City on October 18 and 19, the ALI Council reviewed drafts for seven Institute projects. Drafts or portions of drafts for six projects received Council approval, subject to the meeting discussion and to the usual prerogative to make nonsubstantive editorial improvements.

First Circuit: Uber Users Did Not Give Unambiguous Assent to Terms of Service

In the defining decision, Cullilane v. Uber Technologies, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court’s grant of Uber Technologies’s motion to compel arbitration and dismiss the complaint of a putative class action brought by users of Uber’s ride-sharing service in the Boston area. At issue in the case was the enforceability of an online contract’s arbitration clause. This decision strongly reinforces the notion that online contract processes should be designed, and the information arranged, for consumers and with extreme attention to detail and a focus on clarity of meaning.