The Hidden Roles of Boilerplate and Standard-Form Contracts: Strategic Imposition of Transaction Costs, Segmentation of Consumers, and Anticompetitive Effects

Standard-form contracts offered to consumers contain numerous terms and clauses, most of which are ancillary to the main terms of the transaction. We call these ancillary terms “boilerplate provisions.” Since most consumers do not read boilerplate provisions or, if they do, find them hard to understand, courts are suspicious of boilerplate provisions and sometimes find them unenforceable under the doctrine of unconscionability. At times, courts conclude that harsh terms have not been accepted by consumers in the first place and therefore are not included in the contract, and on other occasions courts interpret boilerplate provisions in favor of consumers, applying the rule of interpretation against the draftsman.