The British Columbia Law Institute has commenced a major law‐reform project to study unfair contracts and recommend reforms where they are needed.
The courts have long had a jurisdiction that permits them to refuse to enforce contracts for reasons related to unfairness. This jurisdiction embraces contract‐law concepts that first emerged in the distant past and that made up part of British Columbia’s legal inheritance from the common‐law and equitable courts of England. Since appearing on the scene in British Columbia, these concepts have continued to grow and evolve, with both the province’s courts and its legislature taking a hand in their development.
This project is concerned with examining the following contract‐law concepts: (1) unconscionability; (2) duress; (3) undue influence; (4) good faith; (5) exclusion clauses; and (6) misrepresentation. These concepts are selected because they can usefully be employed as themes for organizing consideration of more highly specific issues relating to contractual unfairness. They also serve to connect problems that are currently encountered by contracting parties with a longstanding body of jurisprudence. Although the precise contours of these concepts remains somewhat blurry, it is possible to describe them briefly in general terms.
For more information, read the full backgrounder here or click the icon below.
This backgrounder is available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format.
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