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.”
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  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
Like its predecessor, this book is a fantastic addition to the bookshelf of the practitioner or law student. The case summaries are clear, concise and as many reviewers observed in respect of Leading Cases in Australian Law, exceedingly effective at exposing the key takeaways of oft-encountered cases. The commentary is even better, and reflects a great amount of careful thought about how to condense extremely thorough research into a few paragraphs. The result is significant appeal to many different sections of the legally interested, including law students who seek to understand core cases for an exam the next day, practitioners wishing to research the current status of pivotal Australian cases, and anyone simply interested in perusing a collection of statistical information about cases (like the ranking of cases in the “Fast Riser” section in App 3). …
[T]he book is excellent, and in the words of former Chief Justice French in 2016, “continues a venerable and still very useful tradition in legal education and reference”. … Leading Cases in Contract Law will definitely lead lost law students to the path of understanding, and no doubt lead a significant number of practitioners back to the same path as well.
Timothy Smartt, Australian Law Journal, August 2018, 92
In this work, the authors collate the 100 most frequently cited judgments in contract law and related subjects. This book follows the success of the authors’ Leading Cases in Australian Law first published in 2016.
In this publication, the authors seek to redress what they claim is a shortcoming evident in their first book which prioritised breadth over depth. By focusing on only one area of law, they have been able to devote greater energy to the task of providing additional commentary and consideration on each case.
Both students and legal practitioners will find the structure of the work informative and a delight to navigate. Each case commences with a one-line description of the proposition for which it stands as authority, the findings and a summary of the key statements. It then concludes with a helpful commentary as to the manner in which the case has been construed and applied in subsequent cases. …
Another useful element of the book is the appendices. The first appendix collects the single-sentence propositions in an alphabetical list; the second organises all the cases in the book by topic; and the last provides a list of what the authors refer to as “fast risers”, a list of cases that have been decided in the past 5 years and have since been cited at such a rate that, if they had been decided a little earlier, would have been included in the top 100 cited cases.
The list of cases by category is particularly helpful as it provides a map of contract categories into which each case in the book is organised. Catchwords have been chosen that identify as compendiously as possible the key issue in each case, while seeking to locate those issues within the broader doctrines of which they form part. This appendix is complemented by the index which also assists the reader in identifying cases that relate to relevant contractual concepts.
The authors are correct in venturing to suggest, as they do, that this work will be of value to both students of law and to practitioners.
Anthony Lo Surdo, Australian Banking and Finance Law Bulletin, April 2018
This book is subtitled “A Guide to the 100 Most Frequently Cited Judgments in Contract and Related Subjects”, ie, cited in Australia. It is an unrivalled conveyer of distilled contract law.
The cases are first listed in order followed by an introduction and a table including related cases. Each case then receives two pages stating its proposition in one sentence, short catchwords, facts, holding, key statements, and a commentary. Appendices provide an alphabetical list of cases and propositions, lists of cases by category, a list of “fast riser” cases being cases decided in the past five years which would have been included if decided earlier, and an index.
The holdings are clearly stated, the key statements expand on the holdings, and the commentary is incisive with valuable recent applications of the case. The most prolific topic is contractual construction. The High Court is most represented, followed by 17 English cases and then NSW cases.
Unavoidable quirks of the book are that similar cases are separated (eg cases 13, 56 and 91 all concern the duty to cooperate), omission of great but less cited contract cases (eg McRae v Commonwealth Disposals Commission) and inclusion of cases better known outside contract law (eg Ramsden v Dyson – proprietary estoppel). Contract law was never so accessible.
Philip Barton, InPrint, Law Institute Journal Victoria, April 2018
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.
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.
John Eldridge, Journal of Contract Law, 2017, 34