Bad Bargains

Free Public Lecture

Bad Bargains

Room 920, Level 9
Law 106
185 Pelham Street


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T: 0383449480

It is often said that the courts will not save parties from bad bargains: as Lord Nottingham observed, even “the Chancery mends no man’s bargain”. Courts should be reluctant to develop the law in a way which would allow sophisticated commercial actors to escape (bad) bargains. However, little attention has been given to what is meant by a “bad bargain”, or why that might be significant. This lecture will analyse how parties seek to escape from different types of bad bargain. This analysis is particularly timely since in the current economic climate a number of long-term contracts have become especially disadvantageous to one party, and one consequence of Brexit is likely to be an increase in instances where one party tries to escape a bad bargain. Sympathy for the party which finds itself subject to a bad bargain has led to pressure on courts to find that an agreement is not binding; to expand the scope of the vitiating factors; to liberalise the principles of interpretation and rectification; and to revisit the difficult divide between contract, tort and unjust enrichment when awarding remedies. It will be argued that courts should not readily bow to these pressures.


  • Professor Paul Davies
    Professor Paul Davies, University College London