=============================== CFJ 3588 ===============================
Judicial Activism: the Contract has 'fulfilled its purpose, does
not specify any gamestate affecting statements, or otherwise seems
unlikely to be used' (quote from rule 2522).
Caller: V.J. Rada
Called by V.J. Rada: 29 Oct 2017 09:03:59
Assigned to Alexis: 29 Oct 2017 21:02:42
Judged TRUE by Alexis: 30 Oct 2017 17:17:41
Judicial Activism: the Contract has the following text.
Private Asset Classes: None
Any player may become a party to this contract by announcement.
This contract shall not be interpreted in any way by its plain text,
but instead is only to be interpreted based on common sense and the
game's best interests
This is a very straightforward question, I contend that it has not
fulfilled its purpose of significantly improving the game. It
specifies a gamestate affecting statement (what on earth does it mean
to specify a statement? Aris needs to examine eir addiction to the
word specify) in that it specifies who may join the contract, which
affects the gamestate and the Notary's report. And it is likely to be
used, as I am using it now.
Judge Alexis' Arguments:
These cases revolve around the interpretation of the following contract:
Any player may become a party to this contract by announcement.
This contract shall not be interpreted in any way by its plain text, but instead
is only to be interpreted based on common sense and the game's best interests
CFJ 3587 asks whether V.J. Rada's (the contract's originator and only party)
submission of a proposal is ILLEGAL as a result of this contract, and 3588 asks
whether the contract can be destroyed by the Notary with Agoran Consent, per Rule
The first question is to determine how to actually interpret the contact. As
argued by the caller (also V.J. Rada), the contract's direction to interpret the
contract as directed should be followed, because of Rule 2525, which specifies
that a contract should be interpreted according to its text, including
interpretation clauses. I find no fault in the assertion that, generally, a clause
like this should be followed.
Unfortunately, the clause is self-contradictory. It is, itself, a part of the
contract's text. Therefore, to follow it would require ignoring it. Rule 2525
further provides that "justice, the intent of the contract's parties, and the
principles governing rule interpretation should be reasonably applied when
interpreting a contract". Interpreting this clause correctly is critical.
a) Does this clause take precedence over, or merely serve to clarify, the clause
that the contract's text takes precedence?
b) Does this clause provide any particular ordering of factors?
I think the answer to b) is false. Much like rule 217, it seems to point to equal
factors which must be resolved by weighting them based on how strongly they apply
in the situation. For a), rule 2240 provides that a later clause takes precedence
over an earlier clause. Hence, the correct application of rule 2525 relies on the
interpretation of the word "Additionally". It could be interpreted as saying that
the factors *must* be taken into consideration in addition to the contract's text,
and thereby can override the text, but it could also be interpreted as saying that
these factors provide interpretive aids to the text. Based on the paragraph as a
totality, I think that the latter is more correct, especially because one of the
factors is the interpretation of rules which, per rule 217, gives clear precedence
So the other factors provide only an interpretive guide to the text. Given that
the intent of V.J. Rada that the contract not be interpreted by its text is clear,
I think it is reasonable to attempt to resolve the contradiction in this fashion.
E could, after all, have written "The remainder of this contract..." so as to
exclude the interpretation clause, and then it would be satisfactory. The
principles of justice are not engaged here, and the principles of rule
interpretation say that inconsistent text is to be augmented by game custom,
common sense, past judgments, and the good of the game. Game custom and past
judgments are silent here, since this is a new rule, but common sense and the good
of the game both point to interpreting contracts as intended, the technical
contradiction notwithstanding. Note that I don't think this applies generally;
this is specific to the case where a contract's interpretive clause is faulty and
so cannot be properly relied on for its own interpretation. Consequently, the
contract should *only* be interpreted by common sense and the good of the game.
This also excludes the additional factors in R2525's second sentence, since they
are subservient to the interpretation clause.
So now, we conclude that this contract specifies that it should be interpreted
without regard to its text, but only by common sense and the good of the game. E
argues that common sense and the good of the game should bar eir proposal, but
with respect, I believe that this is too narrowly focused.
Does the further provision of
To illustrate, I will summarize the remaining arguments that V.J. Rada gives:
- A contract can specify obligations (per rule 2523) on its parties without doing
so in its text.
- The presumption of permissivity in rule 2523 can be rebutted.
- "the intent of the drafter to render some conduct illegal, and the fact that e
is the only party to the contract, should rebut the presumption."
- Common sense provides that eir proposal is a bad idea, and should be deterred.
- It is in the best interests of the game for the proposal above to be illegal.
V.J. Rada additionally provides arguments about the specific factors of Rule
2525's second sentence, but per the above, those factors are not taken into
consideration in this interpretation exercise, so I discard them.
I will revisit the first, fourth, and fifth arguments later, if they are relevant.
The second argument is no doubt true; there would be no reason to specify
"presumption" if it were not rebuttable. The third argument is fatally flawed. It
relies on the intent of the drafter which, we have established, cannot be used to
interpret the contract. As such, it holds no water.
This exposes a flaw in the caller's reasoning. Even if the first, fourth, and
fifth arguments e provides are all true, this does not explain why eir contract
should bar those actions. The question of whether the proposal should be
disallowed and whether this contract should be the mechanism to do it are quite
So what do common sense and the good of the game say here? Common sense says that
nothing should be read into a contract that is not there. Given that the contract
tries its hardest to say nothing, common sense says that it should in fact do
In Agora's history, the issue of consent has arisen multiple times. Mousetrap
scams, where people have been bound to things without their consent, have been
ferociously unpopular and frowned upon, and great lengths have been gone to to
avoid them. Abuse of others' contracts and similar instruments (such as agencies)
to assert greater control over their actions than was intended to be given is
likewise often met with hostility, especially if it is expansive. Additionally,
Agora has codified requirements on consent, including the inability to be bound by
anything other than a rule without one's consent. While it is possible for V.J.
Rada to consent to arbitrary restrictions on eir activities, the good of the game
clearly points to minimizing these restrictions, in absence of other factors. V.J.
Rada's consent, even intent, to be bound in these circumstances is not a heavily
weighted factor, because the fundamental question is one of interpretation.
Additionally, vague and undefined restrictions are not in the interests of the
game. Understanding the ever-fluctuating game state is of vital importance. V.J.
Rada has demonstrated the issues that interpreting eir contract in the fashion
suggested would provided, by attempting on multiple occasions to take actions
conditional on whether or not they are proscribed by this contract. If this were
effective, it would introduce incredible uncertainty into the game state since
V.J. Rada clearly wishes not to violate the contract. While in some cases, those
uncertain actions may be rendered ineffective by other parts of the rules, it does
not resolve the fundamental problem that uncertainty to no special end is not,
generally, good for the game.
Consequently, I find that the correct way to interpret this contract is simply
that it does nothing. Accordingly, CFJ 3587 is FALSE and CFJ 3588 is TRUE.