Yet another weird SF fan


I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

No Escape

Over the past few decades, many lawyers have been promoting absurd lawsuits. Many businessmen have responded by using “boilerplate” contracts in which customer signs away the alleged right to sue for imaginary defects. The reaction at least one or two law professors has been to say “Ha Ha! We can sue after all!” This is supposedly on the grounds that hardly anybody reads the boilerplate contracts anyway so consumers don't know what they're signing away.

My first reaction is that this means there is no escape from the lawsuit-happy legal regime. For example, even if the CPSC relents and allows buckyballs, nobody will make them if idiots can sue no matter what.

My second reaction is that the principle of “We can decide what you would have agreed to had you been fully informed.” can help justify “death panels.”

My third reaction is that the principle of “Excessively-complex agreements are invalid.” has implications elsewhere. It means large parts of criminal law are invalid. It also means that Congress did not pass Obamacare.

My fourth reaction is that this is yet another case of changing the meaning of a contract after it's been signed.

My final reaction is that the dangling thread of an excuse (the consumers don't read or understand those contracts) is on the verge of obsolescence. I suspect that in another decade or so there will be legal analysis software available (possibly open source) that can warn consumers of what they're signing. The proposed anti-boilerplate doctrine might even be an attempt to delay this.

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