Foreword by Professor Nick James

The Centre for Professional Legal Education at Bond University is a community of legal educators, researchers, practitioners and administrators who collaborate in defining, understanding and promoting best practice in the teaching of law. We facilitate, encourage and promote high quality legal education through the publication of legal education research as well as the development and provision of legal education resources, information, events and training.


We in the Centre recognize that the textbook plays a central role in the quality and rigour of a law student’s educational journey. A good textbook is more than just one of a range of learning resources. In many instances the textbook forms the core of the learning experience. It provides the detail unable to be addressed in class. It provides much needed structure and coherence to the overall subject. It can engage and inspire and motivate students. And the reality is that for many  students, more time is spent reading the textbook each week than is spent in class or engaging with other resources. The importance of the textbook should not be underestimated or understated.


The Centre therefore endeavours to provide its members and other academics with resources and support needed to help them create and publish high quality textbooks. We are particularly proud to publish this, the latest edition of Svantesson on the Law of Obligations by Professor Dan Svantesson. Dan is a highly regarded and internationally successful legal scholar, and the Centre – as well as law students generally – are fortunate that he has taken the time to draw upon his extensive knowledge of private law to carefully craft such a useful text. The book was first published by Pearson Education in 2007, and this is now the fourth edition. It is a comprehensive, up-to-date, and extensively researched resource for students engaging with an area of private law central to their education in the law and preparation for legal practice.


Dan has taken an innovative approach to the subject matter.  Contract law and tort law are typically taught separately, siloed within law school curricula in a manner that is quite artificial and inconsistent with the way the law is in fact practiced, administered and enforced.  By approaching the subject matter of the text via the ‘Law of Obligations’, Dan is able to showcase the many ways in which contract law and tort law intersect and overlap. The book is also innovative in its recurring theme: the ways in which the law seeks to balance the need to uphold party autonomy and the need to limit party autonomy due to various public policy concerns such as the protection of the weaker party or the need for contracts to be effective.


The structure of the textbook has been carefully and thoughtfully planned and is user friendly without oversimplifying the complex content. Each chapter begins with a ‘Rule’ representing a codification of the common law as it stands. This provides students with an accessible overview or ‘map’ of the relevant area of law before they are presented with the actual sources of the law, i.e. the relevant cases. The typical approach elsewhere is to move from a focus on the micro issues (principles extracted from cases) to the macro issues (a comprehensive picture). Dan’s book goes from macro issues to micro issues, thereby providing the reader with an immediate appreciation of how the relevant area of law operates and of how the concepts and principles identified from the cases interrelate.


Dan is to be congratulated for creating a textbook that supports students to engage with the highly complex concepts that form the foundation for advanced legal study and legal practice, and for approaching the subject matter in a way that breaks down the traditional boundaries between doctrinal areas, thereby making the students’ learning experience more authentic and more closely aligned with the realities of legal practice.


Professor Nick James

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law at Bond University & Co-Executive

Director of the Centre for Professional Legal Education


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Svantesson on the Law of Obligations Copyright © 2022 by Dan Svantesson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.