ANU contract law scholars co-author new textbook

New book examines fresh developments in contract law
Dr Dilan Thampapillai and Anne Newton, Information Access Coordinator at the ANU Law Library, with a donated copy of the book.

It is vital that as Australia’s national law school, located in Australia’s national university, that we should have experts on Australian law.

A new textbook co-authored by two scholars from The Australian National University (ANU) College of Law aims to provide students with the essential knowledge and skills in contract law to succeed in their studies and professional practice.

Supplemented with review questions, problem-solving practices and key points for revision, the third edition of Contract Law: Text and Cases (LexisNexis), by Dr Dilan Thampapillai and Honorary Associate Professor Alex Bruce, combines academic commentary with extracts from key legal cases in a single volume.

In this Q&A, Dr Thampapillai outlines how the third edition of his book has been revised and updated to include recent developments in case law and legislation.

1) What is new in this latest edition?

This book adds new cases in the field of unconscionable conduct, construction and estoppel. The inclusion of a chapter on illegality recognises the importance of the way contract law is interacting with increasing levels of statutory law. Despite its ominous-sounding name, illegality is just concerned with whether a contract can be enforced notwithstanding its inconsistency with an existing statute.

2) What was the experience like collaborating with Hon A/Prof Alex Bruce for this project?

Working with Alex Bruce is always a pleasure. Alex Bruce is one of Australia’s foremost experts on competition law, consumer law and contracts. It is vital that as Australia’s national law school, located in Australia’s national university, that we should have experts on Australian law. We hold up Australian law as a model of law in the world. Australian law is also reflective of concepts, ideas and trends emerging in other jurisdictions.

On a personal level, Alex is one of the nicest people who has worked at the ANU Law School. He embodies ANU values: a commitment to intellectual excellence and humility in that pursuit.

3) Does this publication build on any of your previous research?

As a private law scholar, I get some of my best research ideas from teaching. This book is written for teaching. It is an amalgam of a textbook and a casebook. There are a lot of ideas sitting in the book that I have explored in other publications.

4) What courses will you be teaching this year and will this book complement your teaching?

In 2021, I am teaching Contracts (LAWS1204) in the Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and Juris Doctor programs and Advanced Contracts (LAWS8218) in the Master of Laws program. This book fits my teaching model. It also informs my forthcoming monograph, COVID, Conscience and Contracts. That book explores the tensions between the bargain theory of contract, which informs the common law doctrines and equity’s conscience, which underpins the vitiating factors doctrines and others within the law of contracts. This book sets out the law of contracts. As a field of law, contracts is a fertile ground for dispute and controversy.

5) Does this book contribute to any debates or academic controversies surrounding contract law in Australia?

This book covers some controversial cases within the law. At the moment there is a case before the High Court of Australia -- Ridd v James Cook University [2020] FCAC 123 -- that deals with contract construction and codes of conduct, social media guidelines and the like. You need to know contract law to understand that matter.

6) How does it relate to other current projects you are working on, either solo or in collaboration with ANU/international colleagues?

I am working on a gig economy project with my co-author, Dr Mark Giancaspro, from the University of Adelaide. We are looking to get an edited collection out next year on the myriad of private law issues within that space. It is a very controversial area of law. Dr Sarah Steele FRSA, FHEA, from Cambridge University, will also be on that project. So too will be Alex Bruce and quite a few others.

Purchase your copy of Contract Law: Text and Cases here.

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Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team