This chapter sets out the background to and context of the problems associated with standard form consumer contracts. It highlights the difference between traditional standard forms and online standard forms, highlighting the specific problems associated with the electronic contracting environment that adversely affect online consumers. The chapter proceeds to review legal theories of standard form contracts. Much of the early scholarship is written in the common law tradition, but this chapter also examines the evolution of standard form contract regulation in the European Member States. The varying perspectives of contract law theorists in relation to the regulation of standard form contracts provides crucial context for the discussion in Chapter 2 of the rationale and justification for the introduction of the UCTD.
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