Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Jacob and Youngs v. Kent has long been a staple in Contracts casebooks. This paper makes three contributions. First, it demonstrates that Cardozo broke no new ground. The law involving willfulness and substantial completion in building contracts had been around for half a century. The recognition of value of completion when the cost substantially exceeded the value was also well established. Second, it examines the record and concludes that Cardozo’s decision was justified. In particular it resolves two puzzles: (a) why did both the majority and dissent ignore the condition that the architect provide a certificate of completion; and (b) why didn’t Kent counterclaim for the full cost of completion? Finally, it considers how modern contract forms produced by the American Institute of Architects deal with the problem of deviations.


Contracts | Law | Law and Economics


Center for Contract and Economic Organization


Center for Law and Economic Studies