Skip to main content

Please note: this event has passed

The Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy and Law is delighted to invite Prince Saprai to lead the third workshop in the 2022/23 KJuris programme.



Trust in Promise and Contract: One Sense or Two?



In Contract as Promise, Charles Fried forged a tight connection between contract and promise. Since the publication of that book, much ink has been spilt by contract theorists on the issue of whether key contractual doctrines converge or diverge with the rules that govern promises outside the law. This has led to what is known in the literature as the ‘contract and promise debate’. With one very important exception, very little attention has been given to another claim Fried made in that book, which was that contracts, like promises, invoke trust. The exception is Dori Kimel’s book, From Promise to Contract. In that book, Kimel argues, contra Fried, that contract and promise diverge in fundamentally important ways. Central to Kimel’s claim is that promise typically invokes a different (altogether thicker) kind of trust, dependent on the existence of pre-existing relationships, than the (more trivial) kind we find in contract which relies on the reassurance given to contractual parties, who are typically strangers, by legal enforceability. In this paper, I will express some doubts about Kimel’s view that the sense of trust in promise differs from the sense in play in contract. Instead, I will suggest that the sense of trust in contract and promise is fundamentally the same.


Speaker Bio:

Prince Saprai is Professor of Law at the Faculty of Laws, UCL. Prince’s main research interest is in the philosophy of contract law. He has written extensively on philosophical puzzles relating to a variety of doctrines in the field. He is the author of Contract Law Without Foundations: Toward a Republican Theory of Contract Law (OUP Oxford 2019), and co-editor of the volume Philosophical Foundations of Contract Law (OUP Oxford hbk 2014 pbk 2016).


At this event

Massimo Renzo

Professor of Politics, Philosophy & Law

Lorenzo Zucca

Professor of Law & Philosophy

Event details

SW1.17 (Ante Room), The Dickson Poon School of Law, Somerset House East Wing
Strand Campus
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS