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Bilbo Baggins V. Thorin Oakenshield, et. al.: is the Hobbit's Contract Enforceable?

News from Bree

Dec 10 2012, 11:48pm

Post #1 of 8 (774 views)
Bilbo Baggins V. Thorin Oakenshield, et. al.: is the Hobbit's Contract Enforceable? Can't Post

Just when we think we've seen the geekiest of Tolkien/Hobbit geekiness, it gets even geekier! Ringer and international attorney, Scott Maucere, couldn't resist applying his legal expertise to the analysis of Bilbo's contract with Thorin and his party of dwarves in his legal blog. Per Scott: "here is likely the only legal analysis of Bilbo's contract you will ever have the pleasure (or pain) to read." Scott makes it clear that he's analyzing the contract in the book, not the one in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey but, of course, there are many parallels. One disclaimer Scott makes: "Keep in mind that while I practice international law, Middle-earth most certainly falls outside of my area of experience." Fair enough, Scott, fair enough. Read more...

(This post was edited by Silverlode on Dec 11 2012, 6:38am)


Dec 11 2012, 1:32pm

Post #2 of 8 (335 views)
Here's a working link [In reply to] Can't Post


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Alassëa Eruvande

Dec 11 2012, 2:20pm

Post #3 of 8 (396 views)
HA! [In reply to] Can't Post

...the contract adapted in the film, which, according to promotional photographs, looks absolutely breathtaking.

Only a lawyer would say that. Laugh

I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!


Dec 11 2012, 6:41pm

Post #4 of 8 (321 views)
Well first of all [In reply to] Can't Post

Did naybody actually sign this contract??? And more importantly, what would Judge Judy say?????


Dec 11 2012, 10:20pm

Post #5 of 8 (330 views)
fantastic [In reply to] Can't Post

I laughed out loud at the caption "Pictured: 300 billable hours".

For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars, and so on -- while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man, for precisely the same reasons. -- Douglas Adams


Dec 12 2012, 3:47am

Post #6 of 8 (312 views)
Briefly breaking my TORN silence to point out that [In reply to] Can't Post

I cover the same topic as this (in somewhat greater detail), along with a lot of other related topics in my paper, "Law and Arda" published in the latest issue of Tolkien Studies. Anyone who found this neat little piece entertaining might be interested in checking out my paper. If you are interested (but don't want to spend $60 on the whole volume), contact me privately and I'll send you a copy.

*vanishes again*

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire

Registered User

Dec 12 2012, 9:40pm

Post #7 of 8 (303 views)
Contracts and signatures [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think a signature would have been required for two reasons. First, assuming that the relevant jurisdiction (the Shire or the Dwarven kingdom) had a statute of frauds, the contract did not fall under any of the traditional statute of frauds categories. The closest category is "contracts that cannot be performed within one year," but the adventure was complete within the year of 2941, not counting the return trip.

Second, notwithstanding the Statute of Frauds, the equitable doctrine of promissory estoppel may allow a party to enforce an otherwise unenforceable agreement. Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 139. In this case, both parties reasonably relied on promises made by the other party: the Dwarves relied on Bilbo's skills as a burglar and Bilbo joined the company in expectation of a one-fourteenth share of the profits. This sets up a good promissory estoppel argument on either side.


Dec 13 2012, 12:17am

Post #8 of 8 (365 views)
I repeat [In reply to] Can't Post

What would Judge Judy say. Wink


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