Although rules of law provide guidance for courtsâ€™ reasoning in subsequent cases, judges are not tightly bound by these rules. As you already read, common law previously required complete performance to discharge a contract. Common law, however, evolved to require only substantial performance, but the shift to a less strict requirement for contract performance does not occur arbitrarily. Judges who lessened the requirements for discharge by performance provided reasons for applying a different standard.These judges were also influenced by ethical norms that differed from ethical norms of judges in previous cases. Hence, the standard for discharge by performance changed. Similarly, the previous case illustrates how judges weigh the reasons for and against certain rules of law. In this case, the judge evaluated the reasons for applying either the diminished-value rule or the cost-of-replacement rule. In addition, the judgeâ€™s reasoning is influenced by primary ethical norms, as the judge places greater priority on certain ethical norms relative to others. The following questions encourage you to consider the impact that reasons and ethical norms (Chapter 1) have on a judgeâ€™s reasoning. Please refer to Case 11-1 and consider the following questions:
1. What reasons did the court provide to prefer the diminished-value rule instead of the cost-of-replacement rule, specifically in relation to the dispute about the living-room wall? Clue: Reread the two paragraphs in which the court discusses the â€œmagnitude of the defectâ€ and economic waste.
2. Consider the courtâ€™s reasoning in applying the diminished-value rule. What primary ethical norms underlie the courtâ€™s preference? Clue: Look at the list of primary ethical norms and compare the two rules the court discussed. Consider the ethical norms that would be most conducive to use of the diminished-value rule, which places a less stringent burden on builders to make homes in accordance with strict standards.