Opportunistic Breach of Contract

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Law and economics scholarship has traditionally analyzed efficient breach cases monolithically. By grouping efficient breach cases together, this literature treats the subjective motives and the distributive effects of the breach as immaterial. The Restatement (Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment introduced a distinction based on the intent and the effects of the breach, allowing courts to use disgorgement remedies in cases of ‘opportunistic’ breach of contract (i.e., ‘deliberate and profitable’ breaches). In this article, we evaluate this approach, focusing on the effects of disgorgement remedies on allocative and productive efficiency, information-forcing and competitive effects, and restraint of breach-searching incentives. We show that, even from a purely consequentialist perspective, disgorgement remedies may be normatively warranted, especially when involving sellers’ breach. Recent experimental evidence revealed that the preferences and reactions of ordinary people are in line with our evaluation of the effects of opportunistic breach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-230
Number of pages32
JournalCanadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 28 2024

Bibliographical note

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  • contract damages
  • contract law
  • efficient breach
  • opportunistic breach
  • promissory theory of contract


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