This Article examines the recent doctrinal shift from realist jurisprudence to the “new formalism” as it arises in the creation of contract obligation. Many recent decisions involving promissory estoppel appear to display a trend away from reliance protection in the commercial world. While these decisions are formalist insofar as they favor textual forms over contextual forms, the Author argues that this trend is more properly characterized as a realist effort. This Article examines promissory estoppel in the commercial world and suggests that the “new formalism”, driven by the most “realist” of motives, will expunge liability for promissory estoppel in the commercial domain.
Placid, Clear-Seeming Words: Some Realism about the New Formalism (With Particular Attention to Promissory Estoppel), 38 SAN DIEGO L. REV. 13