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Regulating Contracts$
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Hugh Collins

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199258017

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258017.001.0001

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The Discourses of Legal Regulation

The Discourses of Legal Regulation

(p.31) 3 The Discourses of Legal Regulation
Regulating Contracts

Hugh Collins

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the characteristics of traditional private law and how this form of legal discourse has been subject to productive disintegration. It begins by examining the competing normative considerations that shape legal doctrine. It then considers how a distinctive branch of legal doctrine known as the law of contract has emerged and sustains itself. The chapter concludes by examining the forces that appear to be leading to a collapse of the distinctive properties of the private law of contract as a regulatory system governing social conduct. The pattern of closure and self-reference exhibited by private law has been subjected to a series of subversive attacks. As a consequence, the integrity of the doctrinal system has eroded. But at the same time it is argued that the productive potential of private law as a regulatory instrument has been enhanced.

Keywords:   private law, public regulation, normative complexity, legal doctrine

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