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Regular version of the site

Law of Сontracts

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Delivered at:
Department of Civil and Entrepreneurial Law (Faculty of Computer Science, Economics, and Social Sciences)
Course type:
Compulsory course
2 year, 1-3 module


Зернин Константин Александрович

Course Syllabus


The discipline «Contract Law» aims to form the scientific understanding of the principles and institutions of contract law. It also aims to study the contract law doctrine in the applied aspect and the problems of the contract law practice. As a result of the course, the students have to know the content of discussions about the basic concepts, principles and institutions of contract law; actual problems of the theory and practice of contract law and possible ways to resolve them; trends and patterns in the development of contract regulation and enforcement. The students also have to be able to independently analyze the matter of legal norms and apply methods of legal norms interpretation for the purposes of adequate qualification of disputed contract relations. When implementing various types of educational activities, the following types of educational technologies are used: problematic lectures, conference lectures, problematic workshops, discussion seminars, analysis of practical tasks and business games. Part of the lectures is presented in an interactive form. Discussions with practicing lawyers and government officials are provided in the course program.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • profound analysis of the principles and institutions of contract law;
  • study of the doctrine of the contract rights in the applied aspect;
  • assessment of the modern regulation effectiveness of contract law structures and the prospects for its development;
  • study of modern problems in contract law.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • The student understands the significance of the comparative method in the legal reality.
  • The student is able to analyze the legal institutions in the context of a particular legal system.
  • The student correlates the doctrinal and normative aspects of contract law.
  • The student knows the content of contract law and interprets it.
  • The student monitors the current legislation.
  • The student formulates regulatory requirements and evaluates the effectiveness of the legal norms.
  • The student carries out effective search and verification of sources in professional activities.
  • The student knows the content of contract law and interprets it
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Part 1. Contract Law: From Trust to Promise to Contract
    Topic 1. The following unit is devoted to the main principles of the contract, which are formulated as questions: 1) Intent to Create Legal Relations; 2) Both Sides Serious? 3)Legal and Moral; 4) Gift or Bargain? These principles help to understand whether the bargain is enforceable or not. Afterwards the use of these principles is worked out through the following cases - Uncle’s Promise, Brother-In-Law, Demotsis v. Batsakis, Post v. Jones, Car Accident, Alaska Packers, Christmas Shop Manager. Topic 2. The following unit is devoted to show how conversations, dealings, which look like bargains are not bargains at all, especially ones which are presenting a promise in return for an “empty bag”. The empty bag is a situation of a one-sided promise which is not a bargain and can’t be enforceable. This stands for a gift. In order to practice the mentioned principle, the following cases are discussed: Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, Webb v. McGowin. Topic 3. In this unit the main topic is about the move from promises, to bargains, to contracts. The basis of contract is mutual promises. But not every promise leads to a contract. For instance, promises in which the promisor doesn't expect to find himself in court. What’s more, this unit presents the mirror image rule when the return of the offer, the acceptance, is the mirror image of the offer. Topic 4. This unit is devoted to a number of situations, charitable subscriptions, gifts, bargaining as a trap, in which, though, the basic concepts - bargain exchange, offer and acceptance -haven't been met, consequently, it leds to the major unfairness. What’s more, the concept of “detrimental reliance” is presented through the Ricketts v. Scothorn, Hoffman v. Red Owl cases. Topic 4*. This unit goes back to origins of the difference of the common law and civil law legal families. They have a commonality for a reason deeper than common ancestry. They all were consciously devised on a common central premise. The law of contract performed the function of allowing free and reasoning citizens to order their affairs among each other as they saw fit. So all three systems were designed for the facilitation of private ordering in the context of a market economy. Topic 5. In this unit is discussed what happens to contracts if the following situations take place – Mistakes. Fraud and Frustration. The general rule is that the loss lies where it falls, and either the risk of disaster is factors into the price or covered by insurance. The following cases were examined: Raffles v. Wichelhaus, Laidlaw v.Organ. Topic 6. This unit is connected with the interpretation of the contract and how the courts interpret the contract when disputes arise. For a judge or a lawyer, it may require the interpreter to learn about all sorts of contexts and situations, insurance deals, health care, painting contracts, the art market etc. The importance of the interpretation is presented in the Twin towers case, Prince Sergey and Rembrandt case. Topic 7. Through the following unit students are going to be looking at two types of court remedies for breach of contract: forced payment of money and specific performance. The default rule is when a contract is broken, the disappointed party is entitled to get what he expected, but presumptively, he's only entitled to get it in money as the courts are not interested to go around making people do particular things. What’s more, this unit also highlights the third party beneficiary theory. Topic 8. This unit starts with the assignment of contracts from one party to another. Then it is expanded from agency to look at partnerships and corporations and the contracts that these entities enter into. Finally, the is examination of government regulation of contracts.
  • Part 2. Contract law in Russia: reforms, problems and development trends
    Topic 9. Definition of contract law. Disadvantages of the modern contract regulation. Changes in contract law under the civil law reform. Reception problems. Topic 10. Definition and significance of the contract law principles (general characteristics). The principle of contract freedom and its limitations. The principle of good faith in contract law. The principle of stability of contractual relations. Topic 11. The nature and purpose of dispositive and imperative legal norms. The optional legal norms in contract law. The problem of legal norms interpretation in the context of the principle of contract freedom. Presumption of imperativeness and presumption of optionality in contract law. Topic 12. Definition, content, types, significance of evaluation terms for contractual relations. Analysis of the evaluation terms problems on the example of term "reasonable time". Definition , types and methods of contract interpretation. Topic 13. The interpretation of the law of contracts norms and judicial law –making. The analogy of the contract law norms. Types and methods of interpretation. Broad and narrow interpretation. Topic 14. Definition of the business agreement. Procedure for concluding and executing contracts between business entities. The problems of execution of the business agreement. Legal means of securing obligations. Peculiarities of liability in business agreements. Topic 15. General provisions on concluding a contract and recognizing the contract as not concluded. Void and disputed contracts. Special grounds for invalidating the agreement. Reforming the institution of invalid transactions (general characteristics). The principle of estoppels. Topic 16. Concept of pre-contractual liability and conditions for its occurrence. Unfair negotiations as a basis for pre- contractual liability. Topic 17. General and specific measures of responsibility. Peculiarities of liability in business agreements. Compensation for damages caused by the violation of contract. The ratio of losses and penalties. Problems of colleting and justification of losses. Collecting of abstract losses. Foresight of losses as a criterion for limiting liability for violation of contract. Compensation for losses. Topic 18. The theory of penalty. The ratio of losses and penalties. Problems of colleting the penalty. Problems of justification the penalty. Reduction of the penalty amount. Topic 19. Problems of justification the amount of interest for illegal use of anybody else's money. Peculiarities of such interest payment. Topic 20. The concept of impossibility ( force majeure) and the concept of difficulties. The economic impossibility of execution. Modification and termination of a contract due to a significant change in circumstances: trends in judicial practice. Competition of provisions of article 451 of the Civil code of the Russian Federation with other norms of civil legislation. Force majeure clause. Contractual conditions for exemption from liability. Topic 21. The concept of a corporate agreement. Subjects of the corporate agreement. The object and other terms of the corporate agreement. Ways to secure a corporate agreement. Consequences of improper execution of the corporate agreement . Responsibility for violation of the corporate agreement . Topic 22. Regulation of virtual objects by means of contract law. Problems of using smart contracts in the system of modern Russian contract law. Legal qualification of contracts for the provision of "cloud" services.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Seminar grade
    аудиторная работа (Подготовка докладов с презентацией. Коллективное обсуждение решения правовых задач на семинаре)
  • non-blocking Self-work grade
    Самостоятельная работа (микроконтроль (письменная работа), практические задания, кейсы)
  • non-blocking Essay grade
  • Partially blocks (final) grade/grade calculation Exam (1 module)
    Экзамен проводится в письменном виде (письменный ответ на вопросы по билетам).
  • non-blocking Exam (distance form) 3 module
    Экзамен проводится в письменном виде (письменный ответ на два вопроса). Экзамен проходил в 3 модуле
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (1 module)
    0.4 * Exam (1 module) + 0.4 * Self-work grade + 0.2 * Seminar grade
  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.2 * Essay grade + 0.3 * Exam (distance form) 3 module + 0.2 * Self-work grade + 0.3 * Seminar grade


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Melvin A. Eisenberg. Foundational Principles of Contract Law//Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9780199731404// Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199731404.001.0001
  • Prince Saprai. Contract Law Without Foundations: Toward a Republican Theory of Contract Law// Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780198779018 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198779018.001.0001

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Charles Fried. Contract as Promise: A Theory of Contractual Obligation//Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780190240158//Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190240158.001.0001
  • Gerhard Dannemann and Stefan Vogenauer. The Common European Sales Law in Context: Interactions with English and German Law//Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199678907 //Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199678907.001.0001
  • Jack Beatson and Daniel Friedman. Good Faith and Fault in Contract Law//Print publication date: 1997 Print ISBN-13: 9780198265788//Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198265788.001.0001