Chicago's Best Ideas: "One Way Contracts"

One-Way Contracts

What if consumer contracts were legally enforceable only against the consumers, but not against the business? The idea of "one-way contracts," to which consumers are bound but the businesses are not, is offered as a basis to explore alternative, non-l...

Summary

What if consumer contracts were legally enforceable only against the consumers, but not against the business? The idea of "one-way contracts," to which consumers are bound but the businesses are not, is offered as a basis to explore alternative, non-legal consumer protections. Despite weakening legal protections of consumers, the one-way contracts regime has the potential to improve consumers' well being. In fact, in many area consumer contracts are already disguised "one-way contracts." The conclusion is that the focus among consumer protection advocates on enhancing access to, and the scope of, legal remedies may be misguided. Omri Ben-Shahar is Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.