Alleviating Mistakes: Reversal and Forgiveness for Flawed Perceptions

Hardcover | October 12, 2004

byE. Allan Farnsworth

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How often our actions go awry because our perceptions are at odds with reality! This book examines the legal issues that arise when we seek to avoid the untoward consequences of an action by claiming that our perception was flawed. We all make mistakes. Some have unfortunate consequences: wemight overpay a debt or make an unfavourable contract, or we might be sued or accused of a crime as a result of our mistake. Claims to alleviation on the grounds of mistake are likely to arise wherever the law prescribes a state of mind (some kind of intent) as a prerequisite for the application of a legal rule. This book asks when the fact that a person made a mistake should entitle them to alleviation. This may involvethe intention to enter into a contract or a payment, in which case a person could seek its reversal, or it might involve the intent to commit a tort or crime, in which case they could seek forgiveness for the offence. Farnsworth defines 'alleviating' mistakes as those which entitle a person torelief from untoward consequences of their mistake.There is no general 'law of mistake', and despite their similarities, few discussions of mistake in one setting pause to consider mistakes in other contexts. The goals of fields as disparate as contracts and criminal law are very different: how do these differences affect the treatment of mistakes?Farnsworth sets out a new taxonomy of mistakes. His analysis reveals that over the past century, there has been a remarkable increase in the receptivity of courts and scholars to claims for both reversal and forgiveness- a waxing of alleviating mistakes.

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From the Publisher

How often our actions go awry because our perceptions are at odds with reality! This book examines the legal issues that arise when we seek to avoid the untoward consequences of an action by claiming that our perception was flawed. We all make mistakes. Some have unfortunate consequences: wemight overpay a debt or make an unfavourable ...

E. Allan Farnsworth is Alfred MacCormack Professor of Law at Columbia University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:230 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.77 inPublished:October 12, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199276110

ISBN - 13:9780199276110

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart I: Winnowing our Myriad MishapsPrologue to Part I1. Alleviating Mistakes2. Meaning of Mistake3. Ignorance and Mistake4. Predictions and OpinionsPart II: Skepticism and ProofPrologue to Part II5. Reactions to Mistakes6. Proving Mistake7. CausationPart III: Availability of Relief8. Relevance in General9. Relevance of Mistakes of Law10. Risk11. Countervailing Concerns12. FaultTaking Stock

Editorial Reviews

`E. Allan Farnsworth is one the most influential and admired scholars in the field of civil obligation, and in this lively and engrossing book, he offers a new analysis and fresh meditation for the topic of mistakes -- flawed estimations of reality -- and their role in negating responsibilityfor both intentional offenses and consensual obligations. Bristling with perspicuous quotations from literature and psychology, informed by telling legal vignettes ... not only a masterful synthesis but also a terrific narrative filled with the illustrative detail and human interest that make legalabstractions meaningful for all readers... a wonderfully original study that provides a lively and lucid account of the connections -- heretofore little noted or noticed -- between the notions of "mistake" operative in various legal contexts.'James Etienne Viator, Adams and Reese Distinguished Professor of Civil Law Loyola University (New Orleans) School of Law