Coase-Sandor Working Paper Series in Law and Economics

Publication Date

2013

Publication Title

Law & Economics Working Papers

Abstract

This essay reviews Margaret Jane Radin's Boilerplate: The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law (Princeton Press, 2013). It responds to two of the book's principal complaints against boilerplate consumer contracts: that they modify people's rights without true agreement to, or even minimal knowledge of, their terms; and that the provisions they unilaterally enact are substantively intolerable. I argue, counter-intuitively, that contracts with long fine prints are no more complex and baffling to consumers than any alternative boilerplate-free templates of contracting. Therefore, there is no alternative universe in which consumers enter simpler contracts better informed of the legal terms. in addition, I argue that any policy that mandates consumer-friendlier arrangements (such as ones the eliminate boilerplate arbitration clauses, warranty disclaimers, or data collection) would hurt consumers in an unintended but potentially costly way.

Number

640

Included in

Law Commons

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