LAW 241 - Law of Contract

Credit points: 30 points
Offered: Full-year
Contact hours: Lectures - 3 hours per week, Tutorials - 8 tutorials
Course Director: Professor Francis Dawson
Prerequisites: LAW 121G & LAW 131
Corequisite: LAW 298 or 299

Course description

The law of contract is concerned with the basic issues of formation, performance and enforcement of agreements that are recognized in law as “contractual” in nature. The course covers the general principles of contract law, including the formation of contracts at common law, contract legislation in Aotearoa/New Zealand, breach of contract and remedies for breach, including damages.

Content outline

In the first semester, we begin with the issues relating to contract formation - i.e. with the making of contracts. We will consider the formal contract and its creation and also find out when the law will recognise a simple contract as legally binding. Next, we will look at what the contract says that the parties are expected to do. The obligations in the contract are contained in the contract terms. We will look at different types of terms and how the courts will interpret these.

In the second semester, we first look at damages and then the right to withhold performance if the counterparty fails or refuses to perform its part. We find out what a client can do when faced with a breach of contract, i.e. when the other party has not fulfilled their side of the agreement. Finally we look at mistaken assumptions and how the law regulates this area.


The assessment scheme for the course consists of four items:

  1. A first-semester test;
  2. An essay assignment; and
  3. The final examination
  4. Tutorial attendance is compulsory. A deduction of 1 mark will be made for each tutorial missed

Procedures are in place for exceptional cases where students need to attend an alternative tutorial (for example, for medical reasons). The procedure is outlined in the 2018 handbook.

Both the test and the final exam are open book. This means that you may, if you wish, bring into the test and exam and refer to any materials such as casebooks, textbooks and study notes.

Plussage applies to the test and essay components in LAW 241.

Plussage is a system that enables the best possible final mark for a course providing the requirements are met.

Students must achieve a minimum of 45% in the examination for plussage to apply.

All coursework must be completed for plussage to apply.

If a student does not achieve a minimum of 45% in the examination, and/or does not complete the test, or does not complete the essay, plussage will not apply. 

If plussage does not apply the mark for the course will be based 100% on the exam.

Please note the tutorial essay is a compulsory course requirement.  Students must receive a passing mark (i.e. 50%) for the tutorial essay to pass the course, regardless of whether plussage applies. Students will not receive a grade for this course unless a passing essay is completed.

If a student completes all coursework (the test and the essay) and achieves at least 45% in the exam, plussage will apply.

The mark will be calculated by: EITHER exam (60%), test (30%), essay (10%);

OR exam (100%);

whichever results in the higher grade.

Please note tutorial attendance is compulsory. 1 mark will be deducted from the final mark for each tutorial missed, regardless of whether plussage applies.

Recommended text

Burrows, Finn & Todd Law of Contract in New Zealand (6th ed, LexisNexis NZ, Wellington, 2017) is the main New Zealand text, although other useful texts include those by Chitty, Treitel, and Greig and Davis, all of which are held on reserve in the Law Library.