The Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform (PCCJR) joined a broad coalition last week in urging the American Law Institute (ALI) to not approve a proposed Restatement of the Law for Consumer Contracts. The proposed changes would recommend a different set of legal rules to govern contracts between a business and a consumer.
By way of background, ALI is an independent organization that seeks to “promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its better adaption to social needs, to secure the administration of justice and to encourage and carry on scholarly and scientific legal work.” One of the ways it achieves this goal is through restatements, which are usually addressed to courts and aim to provide clarity and precision of the law.
ALI is considering a restatement to rewrite segments of common law that would in effect allow for more ways to challenge contracts between a business and a consumer. In a departure from the historical work of ALI, this proposed restatement appears to be promoting a specific policy agenda, rather than aiming to provide clarity and simplicity to common law.
As noted in the letter: “Instead of restating an established area of law, these proposed rules advance a particular policy agenda: to subject agreements between businesses and consumers to heightened judicial scrutiny with respect to terms supplied by the business. To effectuate this policy preference, the proposed Restatement cobbles together disparate legal principles and sources of law to construct novel common law rules for courts to adopt. This approach appears directly at odds with the ALI’s Style Manual instruction, and the longstanding expectation of users of restatements such as the undersigned, that a restatement provide “clear formulations of common law . . . and reflect the law as it presently stands or might appropriately be stated by a court.”
To read the coalition letter, please click here.