CUHK LAW Greater China Legal History Seminar Series – ‘Contracts as Tools to Promote Morality and Social Order: The Tang Dynasty’s Regulation of Contractual Relationships’ by Prof. Chunlin Leonhard (Online)
3 Nov 2023
12:30pm – 2:00pm
Online via ZOOM
Professor Chunlin Leonhard, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
Prof. Chunlin Leonhard is Léon Sarpy Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. She teaches primarily UCC Article 2 (Sales), UCC Article 9 (Secured Transactions), Business Organizations, and Evidence. In 2019, Professor Leonhard won a Fulbright grant to research contract law during the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 CE) in China. Prior to joining the Loyola faculty, Prof. Leonhard taught commercial law at multiple universities including Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Peking University. Her scholarship focuses on examining contract law issues in cross cultural context as well as the impact of behavioral economics research on common law contract law. Her articles on U.S. contract law and commercial law topics have been published in multiple law reviews.
Prof. Leonhard received her juris doctorate degree, magna cum laude, from Boston University. She began her legal career with the law firm of Latham & Watkins, LLP, in its Chicago office in 1996 after having clerked for one year for the Honorable Christopher J. Armstrong of the Massachusetts Appeals Court in Boston. She joined the Chicago office of Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, LLP (now part of Dentons, a global law firm), in 1999 and was promoted to partner in 2006. Prof. Leonhard grew up in central China and graduated from Shanghai Foreign Languages Institute (now, Shanghai International Studies University) before immigrating to the United States in the late 1980s.
Some legal scholars seem to believe that China historically did not develop any sophisticated contract laws. My research and review of contemporaneous records of laws on contractual relationships as well as archeological evidence of extant contracts from the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 CE) show that dynastic China had developed a body of sophisticated contract law at least by the Tang Dynasty. Evidence shows that the Tang rulers regulated contractual relationships extensively. They issued rules on people’s capacity to contract and subject matters of contracts. Tang laws imposed certain contract formalities and procedural requirements for certain important transactions. They also imposed warranties of quality in some sales contracts. Extant contracts from the Tang Dynasty reveal that Tang Chinese conceptualized their commercial relationships in legal terms and used contracts to protect their interests and to allocate risks between themselves, like their modern counterparts. The Tang rulers’ regulation of contracts was aimed at maintaining the desired social structure and stability, and promoting the moral teachings about trustworthiness.
CPD credits are available upon application and subject to accreditation by the Law Society of Hong Kong (currently pending).