Should the penalty rule in contract law be abolished? A biblical answer to an apparently irreligious question

Alex Nicholson

Abstract


Since its inception, the penalty rule in English contract law has been the subject of considerable controversy. Its opponents have argued that it defies party autonomy without sufficient justification and should therefore be abolished. In response, its supporters have masterfully constructed a range of legal, ethical, political, psychological and economic arguments in favour of retaining the rule, yet its legitimacy remains hotly contested. Perhaps unsurprisingly in an increasingly secular age, a biblical perspective on this issue has thus far been absent from the literature. This paper first considers the extent to which The Bible might still have a role to play in relation to law reform and social policy, before exploring specifically whether biblical principles can offer support for or indeed opposition to the penalty rule.


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