United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit - 350 F.2d 445
The case involves a dispute between a furniture store and two appellants who defaulted on their monthly payments for household items purchased through printed form contracts. The contracts contained a provision that allowed the store to repossess all items previously purchased by the same purchaser if they defaulted on payments. The lower courts granted judgment for the store, rejecting the appellants' argument that the contracts were unconscionable. In a separate case, the court found an appellee's conduct to be irresponsible and suggested that Congress should consider corrective legislation to protect the public from exploitive contracts. The court held that unconscionable contracts should not be enforced and may adopt a similar rule.
The dissenting opinion in the Williams case recommended corrective legislation to protect the public from exploitative contracts, but the judge believed that the appellant was aware of the contract terms and that public policy considerations were at play. The "Loan Shark" law may provide a remedy if necessary. The lower court did not find evidence of sharp practice. Parties are allowed to create their own contracts, so caution must be exercised when addressing installment credit transaction issues. The impact of the decision on numerous transactions in the jurisdiction is unclear. The author agrees with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals' handling of the matter. The lower court erred in not finding evidence of sharp practice.
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