LAW 3531 - Contract Law: Selected Issues

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2020

This course will examine recent developments and emerging issues in the law of contract. Possible topics will include: autonomous smart contracts and the block chain, contractual renegotiation, obligations of good faith and fair dealing, comic contracting; requirements to disclose information in pre-contractual negotiations; standard form contracting and the consumer law; the use of exclusion and indemnity clauses; internationalisation; illegality and public policy; digital contracting; approaches to contractual interpretation; unconscionability and financial transactions; implying terms; and more.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 3531
    Course Contract Law: Selected Issues
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1503 or LAW 1510
    Incompatible LAW 2117
    Restrictions Available to LLB and B.Criminology with B.Laws and BArts Advanced with B.Laws students only
    Course Description This course will examine recent developments and emerging issues in the law of contract. Possible topics will include: autonomous smart contracts and the block chain, contractual renegotiation, obligations of good faith and fair dealing, comic contracting; requirements to disclose information in pre-contractual negotiations; standard form contracting and the consumer law; the use of exclusion and indemnity clauses; internationalisation; illegality and public policy; digital contracting; approaches to contractual interpretation; unconscionability and financial transactions; implying terms; and more.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Mark Giancaspro

    Name: Dr Mark Giancaspro
    Location: Room 3.04, Ligertwood Building
    Telephone: (08) 8313 0879 (work)
    Researcher Profile:
    Consultations: Appointments can be made (on short notice) by email or telephone, at a mutually convenient time.

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1. Analyse and apply in a principled manner the foundational and advanced principles of contract law. Undertake legal research at an intermediate to advanced level, and evaluate and apply a range of legal sources to resolve complex contract problems;
    2. Structure and sustain well-structured and persuasive written arguments for a legal audience. Communicate effectively individually and as part of a team;
    3. Interact with peers in an ethical manner, appropriate to an academic environment. Exercise professional judgement in completion of in-class activities and assessments;
    4. Reflect on the different approaches taken in other countries with respect to contract issues and engage in informed debate as to the efficacy of the current state of Australian contract law;
    5. Analyse and critically evaluate the purpose and effect of Australian contract law;
    6. Reflect on the social and practical context in which Australian contract law operates.
    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)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    4, 5, 6
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    1, 2, 3
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    3, 4, 5, 6
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    4, 5
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    3, 4, 5, 6
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    There are two textbooks which would be suitable for this course:

    *Jeannie Paterson, Andrew Robertson and Arlen Duke, Principles of Contract Law (Thomson Reuters, 5th ed, 2016).

    *Andrew Stewart, Warren Swain and Karen Fairweather, Contract Law: Principles and Context (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

    We recommend Stewart, Swain and Fairweather, but you are welcome to use either. The textbook readings will be supplemented with additional readings, which will be provided on MyUni.

    Recommended Resources

    A series of recommended readings and resources may be provided for each learning week. These will be outlined in MyUni.

    Below are some other texts that students might wish to use for reference, in addition to the prescribed text:

    • Mark Giancaspro and Colette Langos, Understanding Contract Law: A Practical Guide (LexisNexis, 2016)
    • Lindy Willmott et al, Contract Law (Oxford, 5th ed, 2018)
    • Philip Clarke and Julie Clarke, Contract Law (Oxford, 3rd ed, 2016)
    • John Gooley, Peter Radan and Ilija Vickovich, Principles of Australian Contract Law (LexisNexis, 3rd ed, 2014)
    • Stephen Graw, An Introduction to the Law of Contract (Thomson Reuters, 7th ed, 2012)
    • N Seddon, R Bigwood and M Ellinghaus, Cheshire & Fifoot Law of Contract (LexisNexis, 10th Australian ed, 2012)
    • J W Carter, Carter’s Guide to Australian Contract Law (LexisNexis, 2nd ed, 2011)
    Online Learning

    The MyUni course page for this course can be accessed at MyUni will be used for communication, including the posting of announcements. Besides this Course Outline, students can also use MyUni to access copies of the PowerPoint slides used in lectures, recordings of lectures, assessment tasks, and other course materials. Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with these materials and additional learning resources throughout the course.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Students in this course are expected to attend all lectures throughout the semester plus a one-hour seminar each week.

    The lectures will offer an overview of the topics covered in the course. Each lecture will include an opportunity for students to ask questions on the issues covered.

    The seminars involve small group discussion of selected cases or other readings, in some instances together with hypothetical problems. Seminars are a vital 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.

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

    The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. In addition to the time spent attending the classes, there is a requirement that students prepare for the same. To actively and productively participate, students will have to do reading and preparation. The assigned readings and lecture slides provide a context for the material covered in classes.

    Learning Activities Summary
    LAW 3531 Contract Law: Selected Issues
    Week Dates Topic
    1 July 27-31 Pre-contractual disclosure
    2 August 3-7 Renegotiation
    3 August 10-14 Good faith and fair dealing
    4 August 17-21 Comic contracting
    5 August 24-28 Implying new terms and the regulatory role of the courts
    6 Aug 31-Sept 4 Unconscionability and financial transactions
    7 Sept 7-11 Interpretation of contracts
    8 Sept 14-18 Autonomous smart contracts and the blockchain
    Break Sept 21-25 NO CLASSES
    Break Sept 28-Oct 2 NO CLASSES
    9 October 5-9 Illegality and public policy
    10 October 12-16 The rule against penalties
    11 October 19-23 Fairness and standard form contracts
    12 October 26-30 Internationalisation and the future of contract law
    SWOT November 2-6 NO CLASSES
    Specific Course Requirements
    There are no course-specific requirements, apart from those listed below under Assessment.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
  • 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
    Assessment Task Task Type Due Weighting Length Redeemable Learning Outcome
    Assignment Individual Friday 28 Aug 35% 2500 words Yes 1, 2, 3, 4
    Research Essay Individual Friday 20 Nov 65% or 100% 4500 words No 1, 2, 4, 5, 6
    Assessment Related Requirements

    Each piece of assessment is compulsory. The assignment will be redeemable by the research essay for a mark of at least 40%.

    Assessment Detail

    1. ASSIGNMENT (35%)

    Release Date: The assignment will be released at 2:00pm on Thursday 13 August.

    Due Date: The assignment must be submitted by 2:00pm on Friday 28 August via Turnitin.

    Details: This exercise will require students to answer one or more problem questions raising issues covered in the first 3 weeks of the course. Further instructions will be contained in the task sheet. The assignment will be redeemable by the research essay for a mark of at least 40%.

    Word Limit: 2500 words.

    2. RESEARCH ESSAY (65% or 100%)

    Release Date: The research essay will be released at 9:00am on Wednesday 28 October.

    Due Date:
    The research essay must be submitted by 2:00pm on Friday 20 November via Turnitin.

    Details: This exercise will require students to select one of series of provided essay questions pertaining to various topics explored throughout the course. Further instructions will be contained in the task sheet.

    Word Limit: 4500 words.

    1. Retaining copies of work: Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.
    2. Turnitin submission: The short problem and assignment papers must be submitted via 'TurnitIn' on MyUni. Details for electronic submission through Turnitin will be provided with the task instructions. By submitting your papers you are agreeing:
      1. That all material in the assessment is your own work except where there is clear acknowledgement and reference to the work of others;
      2. That you have read the Policy on Cheating in Examinations and Related Forms of Assessment and the University's Plagiarism Policy; and
      3. To give permission for your assessment work to be reproduced and submitted to other academic staff for the purposes of assessment and to be copied, submitted and retained in a form suitable for electronic checking of plagiarism.
    3. Late Submission: When an assignment is submitted after the due date, without an extension, 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 and public holidays. For example, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is one hour late, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 25 hours late, etc. For take-home examinations, 10% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every hour or part thereof that it is late.
    4. Word Length: 5% of the total mark possible for a written assessment will be deducted for every 100 words (or part thereof) by which it exceeds a stipulated word limit. For example, a 3,000 word essay graded at 63% will have 5% deducted if it is between 3,001 and 3.100 words long for a final mark of 58%. If the essay is between 3,101 and 3,200 words long, 10% will be deducted for a final mark of 53%. Word limits include all words in the text, in headings, in quotations, and all substantive discussion in footnotes, but exclude citations in footnotes. Any separate cover page, table of contents, bibliography or list of sources is excluded from the word limit. If the word limit is misstated, this may be regarded as academic dishonesty.
    5. Extensions: Requests for extensions must be made using the appropriate 'Assessment Task Extension' online form available on the Law School's intranet and hyperlinked here: Extensions will be granted only for limited medical, compassionate or extenuating circumstances in accordance with University Policy.
    6. Style of written work: All written work in the Law school is required to comply with the most recent edition of the approved Law School style guide, the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.
    7. Turnaround time: All written works for this course will be returned to students within 3 weeks of the submission date. Individual feedback will be provided on each paper.
    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.

    Finality of Assessment Grades

    Students are advised that Course Coordinators will not enter into negotiations of any kind with any student regarding changes to their grades. It is irrelevant, in any given circumstance, that only a minimal number of additional marks are required to inflate a student’s grade for any individual assessment item or course as a whole. Pursuant to the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policyand the Adelaide Law School Assessment Policies and Procedures, grades may only be varied through the appropriate channels for academic review (such as an official re-mark).

    In accordance with the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, course coordinators ‘ensure that appropriate marking guidelines and cross-marking moderation processes across markers are in place’ in each course. Procedures adopted by Adelaide Law School to ensure consistency of marking in courses with multiple markers include:
    • assurance of the qualifications of markers, and their knowledge of the content covered in each course;
    • detailed marking guidelines and assessment rubrics to assist in the marking of items of assessment;
    • sharing of example marked assessments at various grade bands across markers;
    • reviewing of selected marked assessments from each marker by the course coordinator;
    • comparison of the marks and their distribution across markers;
    • automatic double-marking of all interim assessment receiving a fail grade, and of final assessments where a student’s overall result is a fail grade;
    • the availability of re-marking of assessments in accordance with Adelaide Law School’s Assessment Policies and Procedures.

    Approval of Results by Board of Examiners
    Students are reminded that all assessment results are subject to approval (and possible moderation/change) by the Law School’s Board of Examiners. Assessment results at the University are not scaled. Under the Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, students are assessed ‘by reference to their performance against pre-determined criteria and standards … and not by ranking against the performance of the student cohort in the course’. However, under that same policy, the Board of Examiners (as the relevant Assessment Review Committee for courses at Adelaide Law School) is required to ‘ensure comparability of standards and consistency’ in assessment. On occasions, the Board of Examiners will form the view that some moderation is required to ensure the comparability of standards and consistency across courses and years, and accordingly provide fairness to all law students. All assessment results are therefore subject to approval (and possible change) until confirmed by the Board of Examiners and posted on Access Adelaide at the end of each semester.

    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 ( 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.

    Student feedback The course is constantly being updated and revised to reflect the evolution of the law, to respond to student feedback, and to engage with the latest teaching practices. Student feedback is collected each time the course is run, including through SELT reports. Previous SELT reports, and staff feedback on them, are posted on the course MyUni site for students to view and consider.
  • Student Support
    Lex Salus Program

    Lex Salus (law and wellbeing) is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at destigmatising mental health
    issues; promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness; building a strong community of staff and students; and celebrating diversity within the school.

    It also seeks to promote wellness within the legal profession, through the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Honourable Chris Kourakis, as the official Patron of the program. Students can participate in the Lex Salus program by attending barbecue lunches, pancake breakfasts, knitting and crochet circles, seminars, guest speakers, conferences
    and other activities.

    Our FaceBook page at , our website at
    and regular allstudent emails promote upcoming events, and have tips and information on wellness. Our Lex Salus Youtube channel at  also includes videos on topics like managing stress, and interviews with LGBTQ lawyers and their supporters which celebrate diversity and individuality. Students who commit to
    10 hours of volunteering with Lex Salus in one year can have their service recognised on their academic transcript and through a thank you morning tea with the Chief Justice and law school staff.

  • Policies & Guidelines

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

    Academic Honesty

    Academic dishonesty is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the University’s
    Academic Honesty Policy.

    Academic dishonesty is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic
    dishonesty (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia 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.