Christopher French, ‘Insurance Policies: The Grandparents of Contractual Black Holes’

In their recent article, The Black Hole Problem in Commercial Boilerplate, Professors Stephen J Choi, Mitu Gulati, and Robert E Scott identify a phenomenon found in standardized contracts they describe as ‘contractual black holes’. The concept of black holes comes from theoretical physics. Under the original hypothesis, the gravitational pull of a black hole is so strong that once light or information is pulled past an event horizon into a black hole, it cannot escape. In recent years, the thesis has been reformulated such that the current thesis is that some information can escape, but it is so degraded that it is virtually useless. In their article, Choi, Gulati, and Scott apply the black hole concept to certain standardized contractual boilerplate provisions. A contractual black hole is ‘a boilerplate term that is reused for decades and without reflection merely because it is part of a standard form package of terms, [and is thereby] emptied of any recoverable meaning’ … (more)

Christopher C French, ‘Insurance Policies: The Grandparents of Contractual Black Holes’, Duke Law Journal Online (November 2017).

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