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'Boilerplate' contract scholar Radin joins U of T's faculty of law

Thursday, August 10, 2017 @ 3:50 PM | By John Chunn

Margaret Jane (Peggy) Radin, a pioneering legal scholar in contract and property law, will join the University of Toronto faculty of law this fall as a full professor.

Radin arrives from a distinguished teaching career at Stanford University, the University of Michigan and the University of Southern California.

Her work has focused on the limits of property and contracts — from “baby-selling to boilerplate.” She has explored where contracts should not venture and why some areas should not be commodified. Most recently, she has written and lectured extensively about the dangers of boilerplate contracts that regularly vex consumers, especially online.

We click “I agree” because we must, she says, but are these really contracts? And if they are, she argues that boilerplate represents an insidious method of “mass-market rights deletion.” Onerous and non-negotiable terms of boilerplate regularly purport to deny consumers the right to sue for negligence, waive rights to jury trial and class action and narrow legal relief to a forum of the seller’s choice.

Radin, author of more than 80 academic articles and book chapters, and two award-winning books, will teach a course called “Academic Scholarship,” designed to help students publish their work in academic journals.

She will also continue to teach an intensive course about boilerplate, and she aims to keep pace with developments in the rapidly shifting digital economy, where there are ever more contracts without meaningful agreement, including exchanges executed by computers.“There are fewer situations with real deliberating human beings,” she said. “The law is way behind where it needs to be.”