Seinfeld achieves judicial immortality again!

By Legal Eagle

Seinfeld has already been used to illustrate competition law in the US. But it seems he can also be used to describe contractual good faith!

Author Tom Clancy is being sued by his ex-wife Wanda over a decision to remove his name from a series of books. The court was considering whether the act was in good faith or not. Ultimately, the court remitted the matter for decision back to the lower court, but offered the following guidelines in footnote 27 to the judgment.

Jerry Seinfeld, perhaps an unlikely legal illustrator, once epitomized the duty of good faith in contract. In an episode of his television show, Jerry’s character purchased a jacket at a men’s clothing shop. The terms of the contract permitted Jerry to return the item for refund at his discretion. When Jerry attempted to return the jacket after an unrelated personal quarrel with the salesman, the following discussion took place. 

Jerry: Excuse me, I’d like to return this jacket.
Clerk: Certainly. May I ask why?
Jerry: For spite.
Clerk: Spite?
Jerry: That’s right. I don’t care for the salesman that sold it to me.
Clerk: I don’t think you can return an item for spite.
Jerry: What do you mean?
Clerk: Well, if there was some problem with the garment. If it were unsatisfactory in some way, then we could do it for you, but I’m afraid spite doesn’t fit into any of our conditions for a refund.
Jerry: That’s ridiculous, I want to return it. What’s the difference what the reason is? . . .

In attempting to exercise his contractual discretion out of “spite,” Jerry breached his duty to act in good faith towards the other party to the contract. . .

Hmm, maybe I’m over-sensitive, but I’d infer that the court is suggesting someone is acting spitefully here? Anyway, it really tickled my sense of humour – if I have to explain good faith to students, I’ll keep this in mind.

(Via WSJ Law Blog)

One Comment

  1. Posted August 31, 2008 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Comedy gold.

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