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Leading Cases in Contract Law

Leading Cases in Contract Law

A Guide to the 100 Most Frequently Cited Judgments in Contract and Related Subjects

By Daniel Reynolds and Lyndon Goddard


This book provides a summary of the 100 most cited cases in the law of contract and related subjects. Each case note contains an outline of the facts, the issues and the decision, an extract of the most frequently cited portions of the judgment, and commentary outlining the principles for which the case stands and incorporating later decisions on the topic. Each case is then distilled into a one-sentence statement of the proposition for which it can be cited as authority.

The book covers not only cases that deal directly with contract law, but also cases that relate to topics having a close connection with contract, such as estoppel, unjust enrichment, relief against forfeiture and equitable vitiating factors. This approach provides the reader with a broad overview of the issues that are relevant to the practice, or study, of contract law.

This book will be useful to law students, who can expect to read many of these cases during university, as well as to legal practitioners, providing a first point of reference for cases that, by definition, will be frequently encountered in practice.

From the Launch, address by The Hon Acting Justice Arthur Emmett AO QC, 18 August 2017...

"The genius of the work is the extraction of a single proposition for each of the 100 cases dealt with. Appendix 1 is a table, in alphabetical order, of the cases dealt with, showing opposite each case in the table the single sentence proposition gleaned from that case. Appendix 2 then organises all of the cases dealt with into 10 categories, which cover the principal topics of contract law. … I congratulate Daniel and Lyndon on the production of this lepidum novum libellum, their charming new little book, a work of very high intellect but also of extremely practical utility." Read Launch notes...


The 100 Most Frequently Cited Cases
About the Authors
Table of Cases
Table of Statutes

Selection of cases:

    25: McDonald v Dennys Lascelles Ltd (1933) 48 CLR 457
    26. Blomley v Ryan (1956) 99 CLR 362
    27. Upper Hunter County District Council v Australian Chilling and Freezing Co Ltd (1968) 118 CLR 429
    28. Brambles Holdings Ltd v Bathurst City Council (2001) 53 NSWLR 153
    29. McCann v Switzerland Insurance Australia Ltd (2000) 203 CLR 579
    30. Alexander v Cambridge Credit Corporation Ltd (1987) 9 NSWLR 310
    31. Taylor v Johnson (1983) 151 CLR 422
    32. Grundt v Great Boulder Proprietary Gold Mines Ltd (1937) 59 CLR 641
    33. Garcia v National Australia Bank Ltd (1998) 194 CLR 395
    34. Perri v Coolangatta Investments Pty Ltd (1982) 149 CLR 537
    35. Progressive Mailing House Pty Ltd v Tabali Pty Ltd (1985) 157 CLR 17
    36. Branir Pty Ltd v Owston Nominees (No 2) Pty Ltd (2001) 117 FCR 424
    37. Hungerfords v Walker (1989) 171 CLR 125
    38. Fitzgerald v Masters (1956) 95 CLR 420
    39. Electricity Generation Corporation v Woodside Energy Pty Ltd (2014) 251 CLR 640
    40. Con-Stan Industries of Australia Pty Ltd v Norwich Winterthur Insurance (Australia) Ltd (1986) 160 CLR 226
    41. Baltic Shipping Company v Dillon (1993) 176 CLR 344
    42. Australian Broadcasting Corporation v XIVth Commonwealth Games Ltd (1988) 18 NSWLR 540
    43. Maggbury Pty Ltd v Hafele Australia Pty Ltd (2001) 210 CLR 181
    44. Renard Constructions (ME) Pty Ltd v Minister for Public Works (1992) 26 NSWLR 234
    45. Yerkey v Jones (1939) 63 CLR 649
    46. Shevill v Builders Licensing Board (1982) 149 CLR 620
    47. Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust v South Sydney City Council (2002) 240 CLR 45
    48. Investors Compensation Scheme Ltd v West Bromwich Building Society [1998] 1 WLR 896
    49. Stern v McArthur (1988) 165 CLR 489
    50. Yango Pastoral Company Pty Ltd v First Chicago Australia Ltd (1978) 139 CLR 410

Appendix 1: Alphabetical List of Cases and Propositions
Appendix 2: List of Cases by Category
Appendix 3: List of 'Fast Riser' Cases



This work is the sibling of the authors' previous publication, Leading Cases in Australian Law. It presents a collection of the 100 most frequently cited judgments in contract law and allied concepts (such as restitution and estoppel) each accompanied by a statement of principle and a short note. It belongs to a genre of legal work with considerable legacy by reference to the popularity in its time of the 13 editions of Smith's Leading Cases on Various Branches of the Law with Notes (1837 to 1929).
         One could not find a better summary of principle or place in law of any of the featured cases in this work. The statements of principle range from the straightforward ... to the nuanced ... they are all succinct and, in the view of the reviewer, accurate. The case notes are divided into a statement of facts; the determination of the Court, or the relevant determination where the case deals with aspects of law outside contract; a collection of commonly cited passages; and the author's commentary on the decision and its place in relation to the other cases featured. The authors manage this task in two pages for each judgment.
         Leading Cases in Contract Law is accompanied by an appendix containing, in alphabetical order, each of the cases attached to the applicable one-sentence proposition of law. Thee appendix alone justifies its position in the chambers of any commercial barrister or, even better, within easy reach on the bar table. ... 
         [T]he value of Leading Cases in Contract Law as a reference work, make it a valuable addition to the contractual corpus. Read full review...

Alexander H Edwards, Bar News, NSW Bar Association, Summer 2017

Following closely on the publication of the authors’ Leading Cases in Australian Law (Federation Press, 2016) and adopting a similar methodology, Leading Cases in Contract Law seeks to identify and explain those contract decisions which are most frequently cited in Australian courts. Both the work under review and its predecessor are modelled on the now-defunct Smith’s Leading Cases, a series which began in the 19th century and which eventually ran to 13 editions, the last of which was published in 1929. As in the authors’ earlier work, Leading Cases in Contract Law goes beyond the mere provision of facts and holdings, and includes commentary which is aimed at placing each case in its broader context. …
         The true value of Leading Cases in Contract Law is found not in its practical utility for the student or practitioner, but instead in its provision of a picture of the current state of the Australian law of contract. It is, accordingly, best thought of as a somewhat unorthodox work of empirical research. Rather than subjecting a relatively narrow range of decisions to close empirical analysis, the authors have instead applied an empirical lens to a large body of law with a view to identifying the decisions which seem to have the greatest importance. The question then becomes whether any insights can be drawn from the results, and, if so, what those insights are. …
         [T]his work remains a stimulating and original contribution to the understanding of the Australian law of contract. It has the rare distinction of being a book which repays careful study. Read full review...

John Eldridge, Journal of Contract Law, 2017, 34


Published 14 August 2017
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781760021467
Australian RRP $79.95
International Price $72.70
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