A Handbook on New Methods of Law Making in Private Law
Edited by Roger Brownsword, Rob A.J. van Gestel and Hans-W. Micklitz
Chapter 5: Network commercial relationships: what role for contract law?
Although business networks are often created or supported by contractual arrangements between independent firms, there is a good deal of scepticism within network scholarship that the general law of contract has much of a role to play in networks. This chapter explores the role of contract law in facilitating the internal workings of network forms of commercial organisation. It considers which aspects of networks, and which network problems, can be adequately dealt with by contract law concepts and tools, and whether reform or development of contract law is necessary. While the sceptical view concerning the capacity of contract law to resolve problems in line with network expectations is certainly warranted, it is not clear that the commitment to ‘traditional’ contract doctrine is absolute in law, and that we cannot move to an alternative understanding, at least in the commercial sphere, that better accommodates expectations generated by the network. Keywords: networks, commercial contracts, English contract law
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