Virginia Bar Exam Blog
Saturday, July 01, 2006
  Contracts Revised Outline
- Goods à UCC
o Goods = movable, tangible property
§ Growing crops to be severed by seller
§ Unborn animals
§ Fixtures that can be removed without material harm to the land
- Services à Common law
- Real Property à Common law
- Mixed à Predominant purpose test or split it up

- Elements of a valid offer:
o Objective intent to be bound
o Definite and certain terms
o Communication to offeree
- Preliminary negotiations v. offers
- Advertisements v. offers
- Invitations to deal v. offers
- Real estate offer must identify LAND and PRICE
- Goods offer must have QUANTITY (or req./output)
- Employment offer must have DURATION

- Possible means of revocation:
o Direct communication to offeree (effective on receipt) OR
o Offeree finds out offeror acting inconsistently with the offer being open
- Published offers à revoked by same means of publication
o Offeree receipt irrelevant
- Irrevocable offers
o Merchant’s firm offer under the UCC
§ No more than 3 mos
§ Signed by a merchant
§ Promising to hold offer open
o Option for value
o Detrimental reliance on offer
§ Offeror must have reasonably expected reliance
o Unilateral offer where offeree has begun performance
§ Must get a reasonable time to complete performance
§ Mere preparation doesn’t count

- Lapse of time
o Reasonable time if no time specified
- Offeree dies or goes insane
- Destruction of contract subject matter
- Subject matter becomes illegal

- Rejection by making a counteroffer
o Mere inquiry v. counteroffer
- Rejection is effective when received
- Options à Offeree can reject and then still accept later until option expires
o Exception: Offeror detrimentally relies on offeree’s rejection

- Only offeree may accept – no assignment of offers
o Exception: Options for value can be assigned
- Common law à Mirror image rule, otherwise counteroffer
- UCC à Acceptance =
o Objective intent to accept UNLESS the acceptance is made expressly conditional on the offeror’s taking new or different terms (counteroffer) OR
o Both parties start to perform
- Mailbox rule
o No mailbox rule for option acceptance
o Letter must be properly addressed and stamped
o Invalid if offer expressly said no mailbox rule
- Inconsistent responses from offeree
o Sends acceptance, then rejection à mailbox rule applies, offer accepted UNLESS rejection arrives first and offeree relies
o Sends rejection, then acceptance à whichever arrives first is effective
- Acceptance by unauthorized method still an acceptance, if actually received by offeror while offer is still open
- When silence can be acceptance
o Offeree agreed to it in advance
o Offeree silently takes offered benefits

- UCC à 2-207
o Additional terms not in offer:
§ At least one party not a merchant à terms of offer govern
§ Both merchants à Additional terms become part of contract UNLESS:
· New terms materially alter contract
· Offer expressly said acceptance limited to terms
· Offeror objects w/in a reasonable time
· Offeror has already said he wouldn’t accept those terms
o Different terms from those in offer:
§ At least one party not a merchant à terms of offer govern
§ Both merchants à Split of authority
· Same as additional terms
· Knockout rule
o No contract but performance begins à terms are the ones on which the writings agree plus UCC gapfillers
- Common law à will always be terms of the offer b/c of mirror image rule
- Parol evidence rule

- Intended beneficiary
o Traits:
§ Identified in the contract OR
§ Receives performance directly from the promisor (manure in the pool) OR
§ Has some relationship with the promisee evidencing intent to benefit
o When rights vest:
§ When his assent is requested by the parties, and given
§ When he brings a suit to enforce the promise
§ When he detrimentally and justifiably relies
o Only creditor, not donee, beneficiary can sue promisee
- Assignment
o Assignment only permitted if it does not substantially change obligor’s DUTY or RISK
o Clause forbidding assignment v. clause voiding attempted assignments
§ No-assignment clauses construed as not covering assignments of rights to get paid
o Gratuitous assignments are revocable UNLESS:
§ Obligor has already performed
§ A token chose is delivered
§ An assignment of a simple chose is put in writing
§ The assignee can show detrimental reliance
o A gratuitous assignment may be AUTOMATICALLY revoked by:
§ Death of assignor
§ Bankruptcy of assignor
§ Notice of revocation by the assignor to the assignee or the obligor
§ Assignor takes performance directly from obligor
§ The same right assigned to someone else instead
o Serial assignments of the same right for consideration:
§ First in time to give consideration usually wins.
§ BUT someone else may win IF he’s a BFP w/o notice AND:
· Subsequent assignee gets the first judgment against the obligor
· The obligor pays the subsequent assignee directly
· Subsequen assignee gets delivery of a toke chose
· The subsequent assignee is a party to a novation releasing the assignor
· The subsequent assignee has an estoppel claim against the prior assignee
- Delegation
o Delegating party remains on the hook unless there’s a novation
o Duties that may not be delegated:
§ Those that involve personal judgment and skill
§ Delegations that would substantially change the obligee’s required performance (esp. requirements contracts)
§ Ones involving a special trust of delegating party
§ Those contractually restricted
o Obligee becomes a third-party beneficiary of the contract between delegator and delegate

- No consideration
o Irrelevant for UCC
o Exception: “Moral” obligation
§ OK for consideration IF:
· Old promise unenforceable b/c of a technical defense AND
· New promise is made in writing
· OR is partially performed
· OR the past act was made at promisor’s request
§ If this is a new promise to pay an old debt, enforcement limited to amount of NEW promise.
o Promise not to sue is consideration IF:
§ Claim is valid OR
§ Person believed in good faith she had a valid claim
o Seal à minority of states. Seal is BS.
- Illusory promise
o Condition entirely within promisor’s control
o Right to cancel with no notice
o Gratuitous suretyships before debtor gets the $
o Promisor can choose several options and one is of no detriment
- Pre-existing legal duty w/ no new consideration
o Irrelevant for UCC so long as change was made in good faith
o Exceptions to pre-existing duty rule:
§ “New” promise is a ratification of an otherwise voidable contract
§ The pre-existing duty is owed to a third person
§ There is an honest dispute over whether the pre-existing duty is really owed
- Illegality
o If the purpose behind the contract was illegal (boat rental to run drugs), contract is voidable by the innocent party IF:
§ He was unaware of the purpose at first OR
§ Did not facilitate the purpose and it did not involve serious moral turpitude

- Condition precedent never occurred à No duty
o One party prevented condition from happening à condition is excused
o Waiver of condition
- Accord and satisfaction à Old duties discharged
- Material breach à other party’s duties discharged
o Minor breach may allow other party to delay, but not completely abandon, performance
o Breach as to one unit of a divisible contract still entitles the party to payment for other, performed units
§ Divisible contract:
· Performance is divided up in the TERMS of the contract
· Same number of parts for each party
· The performance of each part is the agreed equivalent of the corresponding part
o Breach of one unit of an installment contract is a material breach as to the whole contract only if it substantially impairs the value of the entire contract.
- Anticipatory repudiation à other party’s duties discharged
o Must be a definite repudiation, not mere expression of doubt
- Reasonable request for an adequate assurance of performance, which is not given à other party’s duties discharged
- Impossibility
o Discharges both parties if NO ONE could have performed on the contract due to intervening impossibility, not just the obligor.
§ Exception: Impossibility discharges a contract requiring an individual’s unique personal service if the individual to perform is incapacitated or dead. Exception does not apply to non-unique services (mechanic contracts to service your car)
o Parties can be reimbursed for part performance in quasi-contract
o Contract to build a house à house destroyed after part performance à no impossibility
- Frustration of purpose
o Elements:
§ A supervening event
§ NOT reasonably foreseeable at the time of contracting
§ Completely or almost completely destroys the purpose of the contract
§ AND the purpose was understood by BOTH parties.
- Discharge by lapse
o When there is an executory contract and neither side ever performs, eventually their duties lapse.

- Material breach discharges other party’s performance, but minor breach only allows suit for damages.
o Considerations for major v. minor breach:
§ Amount of benefit received by non-breaching party
§ Adequacy of compensation for damages
§ Extent of part performance by the breaching party
§ Hardship to the breaching party
§ Negligent or willful behavior
§ Likelihood that breaching party will complete performance
- To put someone into material breach, non-breaching party must show he was willing and able to perform.
- Special breaching rules under the UCC for sales of goods:
o Perfect tender rule
§ If not perfect, can reject all or any commercial units
§ Must take care of the goods until S gets them
o Must reject before acceptance occurs
§ Acceptance cannot occur before reasonable opportunity to inspect
o Revocation of acceptance
§ B can only revoke acceptance IF:
· He accepted them on reasonable belief defect would be cured OR
· The defects were latent.
· Must revoke w/in a reasonable time AND before any substantial change in the condition of the goods.
o Seller right to cure
§ Must notify B of intent to cure
§ If time for performance has passed, S can still cure IF he reasonably believed B would accept the goods. Then he has a reasonable time to cure.
o Installment contracts
§ B CANNOT reject a defective installment if the defect can be cured.
o Shipment of non-conforming goods is a simultaneous acceptance and breach UNLESS S includes a notice that they are offered as an accomodation (counteroffer)

- Goods destroyed – risk of loss issue
o Seller is a merchant à Risk passes when the buyer takes physical possession of the goods
o Seller a non-merchant à Risk passes on tender of delivery
o Shipment contract à Risk passes upon delivery to the carrier
o FOB/destination contract à Risk passes when tendered to buyer
o Defective goods à Risk of loss doesn’t pass until goods are accepted despite defects OR defects are cured
o Rightfully revoked acceptance à Risk of loss is on S from the beginning of the transaction, to the extent of defiencies in B’s insurance
o Breach by buyer à ANY loss occurring within a commercially reasonable time after S learns of the breach falls on B to the extent of any deficiency in S’s insurance
- Breach of warranty of title/infringement
o B who provides specifications for custom goods to S holds S harmless against patent infringement claims
- Breach of implied warranty of merchantability
o For merchants only
o Fit for ordinary purposes
o Disclaimers must be conspicuous and used the word “merchantability”
- Breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose
o Can be disclaimed by language like “as is”
- Breach of express warranties
o Express warranty = Became part of the basis of the bargain
o A visual sample is an express warranty

- Statute of Frauds
o MYLEGS contracts must be in writing signed by the party to be charged
§ In consideration of Marriage
§ Contracts that can be performed in one Year
§ Interests in Land (leases more than a year)
§ Executors’ promises to pay estate debts out of their own pockets
§ Sale of Goods for $500 or more
§ Suretyships
o SWAP removes it from the Statute of Frauds
§ Specially-made goods
§ Written merchant’s confirmation
§ Party Admits the contract in court
§ Performance
o Requirements of writing
§ Identity and signature of party to be charged (or his agent’s)
· Letterhead OK
§ Identification of contract subject matter
§ Terms and conditions of deal
§ Recital of consideration if required
o UCC ONLY: Merchant’s confirmatory memo will suffice
§ Parties reach oral deal, one sends confirmatory memo to the other, this is enough even though not signed by the party to be charged
- Fraud
o Contract is voidable if innocent party reasonably relied on a material misrepresentation
o Puffing v. fraud
- Unconscionability
o Shocks the conscious
o Contracts of adhesion
o Unconscionability tested at the time the contract was made
o Usually wrong MBE answer
- Mutual Mistake
o Elements:
§ Mistake by BOTH parties
§ Concerns a basic assumption on which the contract was made
§ Nobody assumed the risk of mistake
· Fixed-price contract is per se assumption of risk that prices will change
o If satisfied, contract is voidable
- Unilateral Mistake
o No defense, BUT no snap-ups à Offeree knew or had reason to know of the mistake
- Latent ambiguity
o Neither party aware of ambiguity à No contract unless both parties intended same meaning
o Both parties aware of ambiguity à No contract unless both parties intended the same meaning
o Only one party aware of ambiguity à Binding contract based on what the ignorant party reasonably believed was the meaning (Frigaliment)
- Statute of Limitations
o 4 years from breach of UCC contract

- Sales of goods
o Buyer breaches à Seller gets deficiency in resale plus costs
o Seller breaches à Buyer gets difference between cover and contract price
o Specific performance for unique goods UNLESS already sold to a BFP
o Lost volume sellers get lost profits
o Replevin of goods:
§ B can replevy identified, undelivered goods from S IF:
· B has made at least part payment AND EITHER
· S becomes insolvent w/in 10 days of receiving B’s payment OR
· The goods were for household purposes.
§ S can replevy from B when:
· The goods were bought on credit AND
· B was insolvent when he bought them AND
· S makes demand w/in 10 days of B’s receipt.
- Sales of land
o May get specific performance since all land is presumed unique UNLESS already sold to a BFP
o Seller can also get specific performance even though $$ not unique
- Services contracts
o Specific performance never available BUT court may enjoin D from working elsewhere
- Liquidated damages clauses
o Valid ONLY if:
§ Damages were difficult to ascertain when the contract was formed AND
§ The amount agreed upon was a reasonable forecast of actual damages OR
§ (UCC ONLY) The amount is close to what the actual damages really were.
- Remember duty to mitigate damages
o Employment contracts: Employee must use reasonable diligence to find a like position.
o Construction contracts: Must cease work, not keep building and racking up costs.

- Promissory estoppel
o Promisor must have reasonably expected promisee would detrimentally rely AND
o The reliance is of a definite and substantial character
- Unjust enrichment
o One party has conferred a benefit on the other
o With a reasonable expectation of being compensated and
o The benefits were conferred at the request of the other person and
o Not rewarding damages would result in unjust enrichment.
- Quasi-contractual relief may exceed the contract price!


i. Must have been foreseeable at the time the K was entered into.
i. Valid so long as, at the time of contracting:
1. Actual damages would have been hard to guesstimate AND
2. the amount stipulated was a reasonable forecast of the actual harm.
PUNITIVE DAMAGES are NEVER allowed in K actions.
i. Nonbreaching party can recover the value of her performance, even if greater than the K price!
ii. Breaching party can recover benefit conferred minus damages to non-breaching party
Grounds for rescission:
i. Mistake
1. Mutual
a. Always will grant rescission
2. Unilateral
a. Sometimes will grant recission IF:
i. Mistake goes to the basis of the bargain AND
ii. Hardship to the mistaken party outweighs harm to the other party
ii. Misrepresentation
1. Innocent
2. Fraudulent
iii. Illegality
iv. Impossibility of Performance
v. Lack of capacity
1. Minors
i. Laches – unreasonable delay by P in initiating his claim, that results in prejudice to D
ii. Unclean Hands – P cannot be guilty of unfair dealing w/respect to the transaction sued upon
iii. Election of Remedies
1. A suit for damages affirms the K if sought first (so P can’t then ask for rescission). BUT no problem if K seeks rescission first.
iv. Estoppel
Grounds for reformation
i. Mistake
1. Mutual
2. Unilateral
ii. Misrepresentation
i. Laches – unreasonable delay by P in initiating his claim, that results in prejudice to D
ii. Unclean Hands – P cannot be guilty of unfair dealing w/respect to the transaction sued upon
iii. Sale to BFP
iv. Parol Evidence rule, Statute of Frauds and negligence are NOT good defenses
SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE – “I’m Doing Fine Mom & Dad”
A valid K must exist, with all conditions satisfied.
Are the legal remedies inadequate?
i. Damages too speculative
ii. Damages too small to compensate for injury
iii. Irreparable injury
iv. Unique chattle or sale of land involved
Are the terms of the contract sufficiently definite and certain to grant specific performance?
i. Must be able to tell how it was supposed to be performed.
ii. Greater certainy than required in an action for damages.
Is a specific performance decree feasible?
i. Is there jurisdiction over the parties and property? Watch for land outside state.
ii. Too much need for supervision by the court?
iii. Personal services contract can’t get specific perf.
Is there mutuality of obligation?
i. Old rule – could only get specific perf if other party would be entitled to it as well.
ii. New rule – mutuality of performance – court must be able to ensure counter-performance by P.
i. Laches – unreasonable delay by P in initiating his claim, that results in prejudice to D
ii. Unclean Hands – P cannot be guilty of unfair dealing w/respect to the transaction sued upon
iii. Freedom of speech (would prior restraint violate 1st Amend?)
iv. Hardship – terms of K are onerous
v. Statute of Frauds – no valid K

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Will you send me the summaries you received from "The Study Group"

Thanks and all the best!!!

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May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 /

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