Following top top from mine posts around the contract law issues in Shrek Forever ~ and also The Muppets, another significant movie bring us exciting contract legislation issues: The Hobbit – An unforeseen Journey (blog | facebook | imdb | main site | twitter | wikipedia).

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Warning: plot spoilers Bilbo Baggins is a common hobbit, enjoying his quiet life in the Shire, when he is manoeuvred by the wizard Gandalf the Grey right into hosting dinner for a company of dwarves. They tell that the story of just how they shed their kingdom the Erebor and its great treasure to the terrifying dragon Smaug, and how castle are currently on a pursuit to reclaim your kingdom and also treasure under the management of the legend warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Moreover, due to the fact that a firm of thirteen (twelve dwarves, and Gandalf) invites negative luck, they tell him the Gandalf had proposed him as a fourteenth member, together a burglar. Bilbo and the dwarves are unconvinced, however Gandalf re-assures them that Bilbo will certainly prove more than approximately the task as soon as the time come (“Hobbits can pass unseen by most if they decided which offers us a distinct advantage” in sneaking previous Smaug), so the dwarves current Bilbo with a contract to sign up with the firm (script | video clip clip, via blog and YouTube):

Thorin: give him the contract.Bofur: Alright.Bilbo: Please.Bofur: We’re off.Balin: It’s simply the usual; an introduction of out of pocket costs … time compelled … remuneration … funeral arrangements … so forth.Bilbo: Funeral arrangements?Bilbo: oh … “up to however not exceeding one fourteenth of full profit if any”. Seems fair. … Ah … “Present company shall no be liable because that injuries inflicted through or sustained as a repercussion thereof, including but not restricted to lacerations, evisceration … incineration”?Bofur: Oh, aye. He’ll melt the meat off her bones in the blink of one eye.Balin: you alright, laddie?Bilbo: Yeah, I’ll be. … feeling a little bit faint.Bofur: Think furnace, with wings.Bilbo: Yeah, I-I-I require air.Bofur: speed of light, searing pain, then poof, you’re nothing an ext than a pile of ash.Bilbo: Hmm … … No.

The montage image over shows Bilbo analysis the contract (replicas are obtainable via weta, noble, and also Amazon (here (US) and here (UK))). Bilbo at some point signs the contract, and also goes ~ above the unexpected journey (and adventure!) the the sub-title. There are plenty of suggestions regarding what the contract actually says, indigenous the brief version in the book (eg here, here and also here) v attempting the decipher the significantly longer message in the movie (eg here, here, here and also here) come working through the text in the replicas (eg here; pdf; updates here and here).

Concentrating on the development of the contract, and its text, numerous questions arise, that which 3 are specifically interesting. First, is over there an agreement (the equivalence of offer and also acceptance) enough to amount come a contract? The contract says that Bilbo do the offer, i m sorry the dwarves accepted. However, the dwarves’ purported acceptance included terms, which suggests that the is a counter-offer and not an acceptance. Top top one reading, when Bilbo signed the contract, he welcomed the counter-offer; in ~ which time, the agreement in between them amounted to a contract. Update: on one more reading, having rejected the dwarves’ counter-offer the night before, once Bilbo presses his signed contract upon the dwarves, that is only making a additional counter-offer, and it the dwarves that accept.

Either way, to be enforceable, contracts need not just an offer and acceptance but likewise a commercial price, dubbed consideration. On the question of whether there is factor to consider for Bilbo’s contract v the dwarves, structure on the recommendation to “one fourteenth of total profit” in the script, the replica expansively gives for the dwarves’ factor to consider in return because that Bilbo’s participationa:

Wherefore and also for i beg your pardon the firm promises the totality amount, to give and to salary to burglary or come Burglar’s accredited messenger one fourteenth of total profits, if in gold then good and of correct weight, and also if other than gold, climate of an excellent quality and of correct and proper measure, within one year the the perfect of the Adventure.

If, however, firm does no make good on payment herein set forth, firm becomes liable because that the totality amount, to offer to Burglar, do the stipulation, the penalty of the double of the said amount, the aforesaid conditions remaining together settled. Furthermore, firm pledges to Burglar as defense for the aforesaid guarantees all its items existing and also future.

The above is binding v the exception and also special reservation that if the quantity of goods, property, and also merchandise paid in order to is transported by a third party , whose safety cannot be guaranteed in any kind of case, and furthermore the claimed goods, property, and also merchandise fail to arrive at the destination nominated through the Burglar, then and also in such a instance the existing instrument is cancelled, void, and also of no value.

Let the existing instrument likewise be cancelled if the claimed Burglar refrains from questioning or exacting payments of the aforesaid amounts of money, goods, property or merchandise for the room of one year after the time or the time limit has elapsed for asking, exacting or obtaining stated payment.

Without limiting the foregoing, burglar expressly and also forever waives any and all insurance claims that Burglar may now or hereafter have in respect and in any type of jurisdiction come the so-called “Moral Rights” v respect come the Recovered goods. Housebreaker understands the he embarks top top this Adventure at his own financial as well as personal risk.

This is a wonderful parody that old-fashioned drafting – update: deliberately so, as this interview v Daniel Reeve, the artist and also calligrapher who created the contract displayed – but I’m not sure Ken Adams would certainly approve.

Finally, and also perhaps many interestingly, over there is the inquiry of even if it is the purported contract is unenforceable for illegality? ~ all, the is a contract in i m sorry Bilbo is to it is in a burglary (perhaps no a million miles far from a highwayman). It may be that “burglar” as offered in the contract is not really a thief, however simply a shorthand for the contracting party that helps the dwarves recoup the treasure the is rightfully theirs. Furthermore, also if Bilbo really deserve to be explained as a burglar, is stealing indigenous Smaug yes, really theft? In particular, have the right to a dragon own private property? (In mine view, in a universe through very few humans, and also many hobbits, dwarves, elves, orcs and trolls, as well as super-powered rhosgobel rabbits and sapient an excellent eagles, plenty of creatures have and also hold property; and, although Smaug is the rogue of the piece, the reality that that is a dragon is no of itself a reason to conclude the he cannot own property, provided all the other creatures the can and also do in Middle-earth.)

As the trilogy unfolds, there will no doubt be questions relating to the interpretation and performance of the contract. Meanwhile, reap the movie! I definitely did.

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Update (18 January 2013): read a Lawyer’s Amazingly Detailed evaluation of Bilbo’s Contract in The Hobbit by James everyday on Wired. After ~ a very long but extremely entertaining write-up (effectively summarizing his majesterial six-part evaluation of the contract top top the Law and also the Multiverse Blog, i beg your pardon is connected at various locations above), these are his close up door thoughts:

One the whole, the contract is pretty fine written. There room some anachronisms, unnecessary clauses, typos, and also a small number of clear drafting errors, however given the contract’s length and its role in the movie (which is come say no a vast one, specifically in the particulars) that an exceptional piece the work. Ns congratulate prop-maker and artist Daniel Reeve top top a strong piece of work. …

In time honoured righteousness fashion, i concur!

Update (28 January 2013): however where would certainly a concurrence be there is no a dissent? Jeremy Telman beginning a partial disagreement on the ambiguity of the consideration, and the fail of the contract come specify the way of delivery of payment to Bilbo.