Adhesion Contract – a standard-form contract prepared by one party, to be signed by another party in a weaker position, usually a consumer, who adheres to the contract with little choice about the terms

adhesion contract:
(1949)

1. A standard-form contract prepared by one party, to be signed by another party in a weaker position, usually a consumer, who adheres to the contract with little choice about the terms. — aka contract of adhesion; adhesive contract; adhesory contract; adhesionary contract; take-it-or-leave-it contract; leonine contract. [1]

     Excerpt from Quintin Johnstone & Dan Hopson Jr.’s Lawyers and Their Work (1967):

     “Some sets of trade and professional forms are extremely one-sided, grossly favoring one interest group against others, and are commonly referred to as contracts of adhesion. From weakness in bargaining position, ignorance, or indifference, unfavored parties are willing to enter transactions controlled by these lopsided legal documents. [2]

     Excerpt from E. Allan Farnsworth’s Contracts (3rd ed. 1999):

     “Dangers are inherent in standardization . . . for it affords a means by which one party may impose terms on another unwitting or even unwilling party. Several circumstances facilitate this imposition. First, the party that proffers the form has had the advantage of time and expert advice in preparing it, almost inevitably producing a form slanted in its favor. Second, the other party is usually completely or at least relatively unfamiliar with the form and has scant opportunity to read it -an opportunity often diminished by the use of fine print and convoluted clauses. Third, bargaining over terms of the form may not be between equals or, as is more often the case, there may be no possibility of bargaining at all. The form may be used by an enterprise with such disproportionately strong economic power that it simply dictates the terms. Or the form may be a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, often called a contract of adhesion, under which the only alternative to complete adherence is outright rejection. [3]

References:

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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Quintin Johnstone & Dan Hopson Jr., Lawyers and Their Work 329-30 (1967).

[3]: E. Allan Farnsworth, Contracts § 4.26 at 296-97 (3d ed. 1999).

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