Anne Fleming, ‘The Rise and Fall of Unconscionability as the “Law of the Poor”’

What happened to unconscionability? Here’s one version of the story: The doctrine of unconscionability experienced a brief resurgence in the mid-1960s at the hands of naive, left-liberal, activist judges, who used it to rewrite private consumer contracts according to their own sense of justice. These folks meant well, no doubt, much like present-day consumer protection crusaders who seek to ensure the “fairness” of financial products and services. But courts’ refusal to enforce terms they deemed “unconscionable” served only to increase the cost of doing business with low-income households. Judges ended up hurting the very people they were trying to help. In the face of incisive criticism, judicial enthusiasm for the doctrine of unconscionability quickly faded. A new consensus emerged in favor of legislation requiring better disclosure of consumer contract terms ex ante, rather than ex post judicial review …

Anne Fleming, The Rise and Fall of Unconscionability as the “Law of the Poor”. Georgetown Law Journal, volume 102, issue 5, 1383 (2014).

First posted 2014-06-17 12:38:21

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