“Charon QC” Posts Contract Text

carbolicsmokeballCharon QC, the UK’s one-man blogging, podcasting and ‘zine publishing machine, has put a contract text online and made it available for free. Properly Mike Semple Piggot, he has taught contract law over the past 25 years at BPP Law School, an institution that he helped found. His text is, as he says, more of an outline, along with a collection of other resources related to contract law. On the site you’ll find up-to-date contract news; links to appropriate recent case reports are available within the text notes.

Semple plans a similar site dealing with the sale of goods.


  1. Simon

    Thank you for a very generous link to my stuff – I really do appreciate it.

    I would like to make it clear that I am no longer connected with BPP Law School. They have gone on to take the law school to where it is today.

    I am proud to have been associated with them in my past – but I am, very definitely, independent and solo!

    Thanks again…. I hope students find it useful. I published my Sale of Goods book on Insite today. Shortly I will release my Consumer Credit materials and I plan to produce a Tort resource of about 400 A4 pages online for the new year… then…(I Hope) Constitutional/Human Rights for next May… that should keep me out of the bars….. !

    All my materials are FREE to view and use and will remain so. I am doing a series of 40 recorded lectures in each…. but they are unlikely to appear until later in the year.

  2. One of the joys of teaching Canadian law students was what could do with them and expect of them. A 23 year-old student is a very much more mature person than an 18 or 19 year-old. I have thought for a long time that the features of the typical English contracts text—Chitty is the exception; it’s for practitioners—are due to the fact that the authors believe that English law students, being very much younger than Canadian ones, need simple definitions and statements of the law.

    I know that Charon QC states that his text is only an outline, but it’s not even that; if read by a Canadian student, it would seriously mislead him or her. The chapter on consideration, Chapter 5, offers a literal wilderness of single instances where a statement in one case is contradicted in another. There is, in other words, no structure in which, for example, the conflicting cases can perhaps be seen in a broader context and understood. Atiyah’s approach to consideration is, for example, noted but it is neither developed nor analyzed.

    I hope that this comment will not be seen as petty carping but it goes back to the argument I made a week or so ago: we have to consider more carefully than we do (or have done) what good writing (or good research) is. Yes, a text like that of Charon QC can provide a case to support a sentence in a factum; but is that enough? Doesn’t any text have at least to offer an analysis of, say, consideration so that the reader, whether student, practitioner or judge, can see that there are, if not simple definitions and legal principles, then ways of looking at the cases that show the courts to be struggling with a hugely complicated and very important problem?

    I think that the principal problem of understanding the law of contracts is epistemological: what do we know when we say we know the law? I do not claim that when I say that I “know” the law of contracts, my way of knowing (or analyzing) the law is the only correct one. I do claim, however, that those who write about the law or who seek to discover it have to consider carefully just what they know and whether that way or knowing is, for all the purposes that one has to know the law, useful.

  3. Angela

    In some respects I would agree.

    In my defence – not that I feel a need to defend myself – it is very much an outline structure to a subject to encourage further reading in a serious text. Ewan McKendrick and I used to work together and his superb work or Treitel, as far as an English students is concerned, will explain all.

    1. Some of our younger students rather miss the point of law school, let alone the law and may be better served taking a gap year before doing law. There are many who feel, as I do, that law is best done as a post-graduate discipline – but life doesn’t always permit of such a luxury.

    2. Consideration, I am of this view, in English Law is becoming an irrelevance. the judges have been inconsistent and many construct elaborate structures to find intent and, thereby, a contract.

    3. If a student reads the cases I list (as I assume will be the case, not unreasonably, he or she will begin to work out for themselves the paradox, the inconsistency, the doubt that is Consideration.

    4. By putting these materials on the net and hyper-liinking to the free resources in BAILLI I hope that students and those returning to the subject will at least have a structure from which to build in the serious texts.

    5. Over 29 years of teaching Contract I have found that many students either find the subject dull or difficult. For me, it is neither – and I hope, by giving a structure or overview, to encourage.

    I have no great desire to write a full text. Others have done this, with mixed success, it has to be said.

    I am a pragmatist – Contract for practitioners lies at the root of much of what they do in commercial/corporate work.

    There is, of course, a wonderful irony in a lawyer being brought to task by another lawyer for being economical with words… brevity can be a virtue, but I shall work on my prolixity..

    To end on a serious note – I do intend to develop this outline with case reports first, then analyses, recorded talks and, hopefully, others may join in.

    I do agree with your view that this subject requires a great deal of reading – perhaps more than some students are prepared to invest. the better students may benefit from having a quick guide to flick through – and the very best will read the serious works in my jurisdiction and yours.

    Ironically – a lot of practitioners use the material for a quick reminder – the structure is familiar – and hopefully, the case analyses and commentaries which I plan going forward will be useful. Time is, as we say in our contract world, of the essence – and I do this in my spare time… I’ll do what I can.

    I shall develop this outline – and I shall make a point, soon, of developing the explanation on the Chapter.

    I hope to record 40 lectures in Contract over the next few months – my manual was originally written to accompany lectures and you have made a valid point in suggesting that the outline is a bit ‘thin’ in parts!

  4. Angela

    Your observations have inspired me to expand the poutline into a more user friendly experience.

    I have started to draft, chapter by chapter more expansive notes to explain and I shall record lectures in each of the areas of contract to delve further.

    This should make it a more useful resource – without turning it into a detailed academic textbook – which I do not wish to do.

    I shall post my first introductory lecture in Contract – hopefully, later today in mp3 format.

  5. I have started upgrading chapter by chapter, incorporating more detail from the judgments (as available on BAILLI) and my own lectures and I have recorded the first two lectures on Intruduction and Intention.

    While I still do not want my resources to be seen as anything other than a guide – the lectures will, I hope, make it more clear, thought provoking and comprehensive.

    I should have about 25+ hours of recorded lectures complete by about 20th August and all the material will be much expanded from the initial outline.

    Interestingly, I have had five or six others – practitioners and academics – wishing to write similar FREE resources… so we may be able to get about ten or so completely free subject guides done at the level I am now seeking to provide for Contract, Sale of Goods and Competition Law by the start of the new year.