LAW 1503 - Contracts

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2014

The course acquaints students with the common law, equitable and statutory rules relating to enforceable agreements and puts those rules in their practical perspective. Although the course is not concerned with the statutory modifications made with respect to specific classes of contract (eg employment, land, consumer finance, etc), which are dealt with in other courses, an understanding of the basic conception of a contract is vital not just as a starting point for those statutory models but also for an understanding of everyday commercial agreements. The following topics will be covered: formation; terms and interpretation; privity of contract, agency and assignment of obligations; vitiating factors; statutory remedies for unfair conduct or terms; performance and discharge of obligations; enforcement, compensation and restitutionary remedies.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 1503
    Course Contracts
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 6
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Corequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 1003
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Course Description The course acquaints students with the common law, equitable and statutory rules relating to enforceable agreements and puts those rules in their practical perspective. Although the course is not concerned with the statutory modifications made with respect to specific classes of contract (eg employment, land, consumer finance, etc), which are dealt with in other courses, an understanding of the basic conception of a contract is vital not just as a starting point for those statutory models but also for an understanding of everyday commercial agreements.

    The following topics will be covered: formation; terms and interpretation; privity of contract, agency and assignment of obligations; vitiating factors; statutory remedies for unfair conduct or terms; performance and discharge of obligations; enforcement, compensation and restitutionary remedies.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Alex Wawryk

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1. Students who complete this course should:
    (a) understand the general principles of the law of contract — that is, the common law, equitable and statutory rules relating to enforceable agreements; and
    (b) understand the practical and social context in which those rules operate.

    2. The course is designed to satisfy certain requirements of the Legal Practitioners Education and Admission Council (LPEAC) regarding the knowledge expected of applicants for admission to legal practice, as set out in Appendix A to the LPEAC Rules. The course covers each of the topics required in relation to the area of Contracts, and also the following topics specified in relation to Equity: nature of equity; estoppel in equity; fiduciary obligations; unconscionable transactions; and equitable remedies.

    3. The continuing development of good inter-personal and communication skills is widely recognised as important for all graduates. This course specifically seeks to develop students’ abilities in both written and oral communication.

    4. The course is designed to contribute to the development of the following LLB graduate attributes in particular:
    (a) a knowledge and understanding of the basic principles of the primary areas of Australian law as required to satisfy the academic standards for admission to practice law in an Australian jurisdiction;
    (b) the capacity to analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources and experiences;
    (c) an awareness of the incompleteness of law and the continuous state of development of legal principles; and
    (d) the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 2, 4
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 4
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 3
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Students will supplied, both in hard copy and through MyUni, with a Study Guide that provides an outline of the material and issues to be covered in both lectures and seminars.

    The prescribed textbook for the course is Paterson, Robertson and Duke, Principles of Contract Law (4th ed, Thomson, 2012).
    Recommended Resources
    Students may want to acquire a casebook with conveniently edited summaries of various court decisions that involve relevant issues of contract law, though this is not essential. The following two casebooks in particular are recommended — either would be suitable:

    • Paterson, Robertson and Duke, Contract: Cases and Materials (12th ed, Thomson, 2012)
    • Carter, Cases and Materials on Contract Law in Australia (6th ed, Lexis Nexis, 2012)
    Here are some other texts that students might wish to use for reference, in addition to the prescribed text:
    • Carter, Contract Law in Australia (6th ed, Lexis Nexis, 2013)
    • Willmott, Christensen, Butler and Dixon, Contract Law, (4th ed, OUP, 2013)
    • Seddon, Bigfoot and Ellinghaus, Cheshire & Fifoot’s Law of Contract, (10th Aust ed, Lexis Nexis, 2012)
    • Carter’s Guide to Australian Contract Law, (2nd ed, Lexis Nexis, 2010)
    These are by no means the only contract law books available. In particular, there are a range of introductory or ‘basic principles’ books. With the exception of Carter’s Guide (above), which in any event is something more than an introductory work, none of these in particular are recommended. If students feel the need to acquire or use such a text, they should choose whichever one makes most sense to them or seems most suited to their needs.
    Online Learning
    The MyUni course page for Contracts can be accessed at https://myuni.adelaide.edu.au.

    Besides this course profile and the Study Guide, students can use MyUni to access copies of the PowerPoints used in lectures, recordings of the lectures, any materials that students are specifically required to read for the seminars, and assessment tasks.

    There is also a Discussion Board for the course on MyUni. This has been set up as a way of enabling students enrolled in the course to communicate with one another. Students may use it to post questions that they are hoping some other student can answer. But if their question is really to one of the teachers in the course, they should e-mail that teacher directly.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Students in this course should attend or at least listen to all lectures throughout the semester, plus attend one two-hour seminar each week. Attendance of at least ten out of the scheduled seminars is compulsory: see the section on Assessment.

    The lectures will offer an overview of the general principles of contract law, according to the schedule set out below. Each lecture will include an opportunity for students to ask questions on the issues covered.

    There will also be a series of special lectures, available online, that provide more in-depth analysis of some of the leading cases on the law of contract.

    The seminars involve small group discussion of hypothetical problems and selected cases or other readings. They generally deal with topics covered in lectures in the preceding week(s), so as to deepen students’ understanding of that area. Seminars are an important component of students’ learning in this course. The communication and problem-solving skills developed by regularly and actively participating in discussions are considered to be most important by the Law School and are highly regarded by employers and professional bodies.

    Students will also be expected to complete a series of online quizzes, which will start in Week 2. These will provide a valuable opportunity to revise key concepts introduced in the lectures. More is said about the quizzes in the section on Assessment.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    As this is a 6-unit course, students are expected to devote an average of 24 hours per week to their studies in it, including the scheduled classes and the online quizzes.

    Unless specifically asked to do so, students are not required to read materials ahead of lectures. For seminars, on the other hand, preparation is essential. Students must read the material to which they are referred, and come prepared to answer whatever questions are set. Often that will mean preparing (at least in note form) an answer to a problem based on hypothetical facts.

    In general, the following study methods are suggested:

    Although it is not required as a general rule, students may wish nonetheless to do some pre-reading for the lectures: for example by looking through the sections in the prescribed text that relate to the material that is upcoming.

    Attend the lectures and take notes. If unable to attend, access the lecture recordings through MyUni.

    Copies of PowerPoint presentations that are used in the lectures will be available on MyUni ahead of each lecture. These provide a basic outline of the points covered, though they should not be seen as a substitute for attendance. Some students may find it useful to print the slides out in advance of the relevant lectures and use them as a basis for taking notes.

    The lectures are intended to provide an overview of the relevant principles and to put them in context. They are not meant to tell students everything they need to know, but to serve as a guide for their own study.

    That study should involve, at the very least, reading through the pages referred to in the prescribed text, together with any other asterisked material in the lecture outline. Students should feel free to skim read parts of the text that deal with issues or cases not on the lecture outline.

    Each section of the lecture outline also contains non-asterisked references by way of further reading. In relation to the cases and statutory provisions in this category, it is sufficient to be aware of their general significance, as explained in the lectures. Students are not required to read them, though they should try to at least skim read them. Non-asterisked secondary sources are entirely optional.

    Students should bear in mind that contract law is a huge topic. There are many principles and issues which there is simply not to time to cover, or on which the course can only briefly touch. Extra reading can often greatly expand students’ knowledge and enhance their chances of performing really well in the assessment — but students should be careful not to bite off more than they can chew!

    Students should do the required reading as they go, rather than leaving it to a rush at the end of the semester. That will not only help preparation for seminars (which often concern issues covered in the previous weeks’ lectures), but also take some of the pressure off revision for the final exam.

    It is strongly recommended that students complete the online quizzes as soon as they become available, as they require revision of the material introduced in lectures. This is a valuable way of gaining feedback on a student’s understanding of that material and can help ensure they have a proper grounding for the more detailed work undertaken in seminars.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Week beginning Lecture topic Seminar topic
    1. March 3 Remedies 1 / Formation Introduction / Case reading
    2. March 10 Formation

    (No lecture Mon 10 March)
    Remedies 1 / Law and equity

    (No Monday seminars)
    3. March 17 Formation / Estoppel Formation / Preparing a written answer to a problem
    4. March 24 Privity, Agency & Assignments Formation / Estoppel
    5. March 31 Terms Privity / Revision on Formation
    6. April 7 Terms / Performance

    Take-home exam released Fri 4 April 5pm
    No seminars
    MID SEMESTER BREAK

    Take-home exam due Tues 15 April 2pm
    7. April 28 Performance / Termination 
    Terms
    8. May 5 Termination

    Marked papers returned Thur 8 May
    Performance
    9. May 12 Termination / Misinformation Feedback on take-home exam
    10. May 19 Misinformation Termination
    11. May 26 Unconscionability & Unfairness / Other vitiating factors Misinformation
    12. June 2 Remedies 2 / Revision Misinformation / Unconscionability & Unfairness
    13. June 9 No lectures Revision for final exam

    (No Monday seminars)
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Task Due date Weighting Course objectives
    Online quizzes End of S1 exam period 10% 1(a), 4
    Take-home exam Tues 15 April, 2:00pm 30% redeemable (see below) 1–3
    Final exam S1 exam period 60 or 90% 1–3
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Both the take-home exam and the final exam are compulsory. Failure to complete either item of assessment will result in course failure.

    Students are also required to attend at least 10 out of the 12 scheduled seminars, as these are considered essential to effective learning in this course. Failure to meet this requirement, without reasonable excuse (based on compelling medical or personal circumstances, but excluding other work or study commitments), will mean that a student is given a fail grade.
    Assessment Detail

    Note: More detailed information and guidance will be distributed ahead of each exam, including the criteria that will be used to assess students’ work.


    1. Online quizzes ~ (10%)

    Students will be expected to complete 10 online quizzes, which will be released over Weeks 2-13. Each quiz will involve 10 multiple-choice questions on material and issues previously covered in lectures. To complete a quiz, students must enter correct answers to at least 8 questions. Each quiz may be attempted as many times as is necessary to gain the minimum score. Each quiz successfully completed will be worth 1% of the total mark for the course, regardless of whether 8, 9 or 10 questions are correctly answered for that quiz.

    Due Date: Saturday 5 July 2014

    2. Take-home exam ~ (30% redeemable)

    This will involve a single problem-style question, raising issues covered in Remedies 1, Formation and Estoppel. Answers must not exceed 2000 words in length.

    Exam question available: Friday 4 April, from 5:00pm on course website

    Due Date: 2:00pm on Tuesday 15 April 2014

    The take-home exam mark is redeemable, for those who get a mark of at least 50%. That means that if a student passes the take-home, but does better on the final exam, only their final exam mark will count towards their overall result. Otherwise, the take-home counts for 30% of the overall mark.

    3. Final Exam ~ (60% or 90%)

    There will be a 3-hour final exam. Thirty minutes’ reading time will be provided. The exam will be open book, meaning that any notes, materials or books (excluding University library books) may be taken into the examination room.
    The exam will test understanding of all issues covered in the course, with the exception of Formation.

    Exam period: 21 June to 5 July 2014

    The weighting of the final exam will vary as follows:

    • for a student who either fails the take-home exam or does better on the take-home than the final exam – 60%
    • for a student who passes the take-home exam but does better on the final exam – 90%
    Submission
    1. Take-home exam answers must be submitted electronically, including through MyUni, so that they can be checked for plagiarism. Students must retain a copy of all answers submitted.
    2. Answers must be written in prose style (using complete sentences), adhere to grammatical rules, and use correct spelling. All written work in the Law school is required to comply with The Australian Guide to Legal Citation, which is available at http://www.law.adelaide.edu.au/library/research/
    3. Students must adhere to the word limit for the take-home exam. Word limits include all words in the text, in headings, and in footnotes. 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 10% (or part thereof) by which the assignment exceeds the word limit.
    4. Where an answer to the take-home exam is not submitted by the due date in accordance with the submission instructions, 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an answer that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc.
    5. Because of the nature of the take-home exam, no extensions can be granted, except where University policies specifically require otherwise. Anyone who cannot submit an answer by the due date has the option of applying for replacement assessment on medical and compassionate grounds (see Policies & Guidelines section). If such an application is successful, they will be given the chance to undertake a new take-home exam during the replacement exam period.
    6. Marked answers will be returned to students within 3 weeks with written feedback.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    The following descriptors apply to this particular course:

    • Fail/conceded pass — Does not address the questions; and/or demonstrates fundamental errors of understanding of key legal principles and concepts (as required of applicants for admission to legal practice by the LPEAC Rules); and/or demonstrates limited analytical and evaluative skills.
    • Pass — Demonstrates a basic understanding of the relevant legal principles, concepts and materials; arguments rational and coherent.
    • Credit — Demonstrates a good level of understanding of the relevant legal principles, concepts and materials; arguments are generally well constructed and demonstrate some analytical and evaluative skills.
    • Distinction — A high level of understanding of the relevant legal principles, concepts and materials; arguments are consistently well constructed and demonstrate good analytical and evaluative skills.
    • High distinction — Outstanding level of understanding of the relevant legal principles, concepts and materials; arguments are compelling and well supported by argument and analysis.

    Courses for which a result of conceded pass has been obtained may not be presented towards the degree requirements for the Bachelor of Laws or the Honours Degree of Bachelor of Laws programs, or any postgraduate law program, nor to satisfy prerequisite requirements within any law course.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    One change to this particular course that has been introduced as a result of student feedback through course SELTs has been to cover more of the required material earlier in the course, so as to reduce the amount of new material being introduced in the last few weeks. Efforts have also been made to provide more assistance with prblem-solving and the preparation of written answers.
  • Student Support

    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    Practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    For more information please check out the Writing Centre website at http://www.adelaide.edu.au/writingcentre/

  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Further information regarding the Law School Policies and Procedures in relation to Supplementary Assessment, Extensions, and Remarks etc can be found at:

    https://unified.adelaide.edu.au/group/law-school/policies-and-procedures

    Plagiarism and other forms of cheating

    Plagiarism is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the Adelaide Law School Enrolment Guide 2013, and should note in particular the sections relating to plagiarism, grievance procedures and academic conduct within the Law School and the University.

    Plagiarism is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Please be aware that “academic dishonesty” (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to refuse to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.

  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.