Since the 1930s, contract law theory has been obsessed with the proper measure of contract damages. Contract remedies, however, present issues beyond the choice between expectation or reliance damages and specific performance. Like other forms of civil liability, contract law requires that damages be paid from defendants to plaintiffs and that only wronged parties may initiate lawsuits. The dominant theories of contract do a poor job explaining either bilateralism or private standing. Seen from this angle, contract remedies provide a system of limited private retaliation. This system of retaliation, in turn, can foster market trust while limiting the damage that such aggression can cause to the more peaceful norms associated with commerce.
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