Personalizing Mandatory Rules in Contract Law
Mandatory rules provide people protections they might otherwise fail to secure in their contracts. Because people vary in the degree of protection they need and the cost of protection they can afford, one-size-fits-all rules are too weak for some and too strong for others. This Essay examines the case for personalized mandatory protections. With the increasing availability of information about consumers, the law may soon be able to tailor mandatory protections that vary with each individual’s characteristics. We show that personalized protections increase the overall contractual surplus and prompt more people to enter into contracts. It eliminates cross-subsidies within a class of contractors, but mostly in a way that benefits the class. Separately, we examine the case for price personalization reflecting the varying protections people receive. Lastly, the analysis identifies potential distortions, pitfalls, and practical problems arising from personalized mandatory rules and prices, and discusses the fairness of this regime.