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who is right? the professor or the student?

01/09/13 , , , , , , , , ,

lady-justice1the point of this brain teaser is to see how your mind works.  via wordplay:

A law school professor (P) took pity on a brilliant student (S) who was struggling financially, and was therefore in danger of dropping out. P made S the following offer. “I’ll pay your law school tuition. Just pay me back in full when you win your first case.”

The student accepted the offer, and graduated with honors. However, he decided to become a law professor like his mentor, with whom his relations had since soured. Since S never became a practicing lawyer and never won his first case, he figured he didn’t have to pay back his professor.

P was extremely frustrated by this, but suddenly had a brilliant idea. He filed a suit against S for breach of contract.

The next day P confronted S in the hallway. “Now you’ll have to pay me no matter what happens,” said P. “If I win, the court will order you to do so, and if I lose, well, you’ve won your first case, so you have to pay up.”

“On the contrary sir,” said S, “now I don’t ever have to pay you back. If I win, the court will declare our contract null and void, and if I lose, well, I haven’t yet won my first case.”

now to echo the title, who is right?  the professor or the student?

for this one, i’m most interested in the reasoning behind your conclusion so share & we’ll discuss in the comments.

previously: the integer called bleen | genius logiceinstein’s riddle

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comments

I would say there is not enough information to make an informed decision. Especially since winning does not guarantee the court would view the case with their perspective.

It seems as though the professor entered into the verbal contract under the assumption that the student would become a lawyer. However, we do not know if that understanding was mutual which affects the validity of the contract. The student could be guilty of misrepresentation if he/she entered into the contract knowing he/she wouldn’t become a lawyer.

Assuming the verbal agreement between the two parties has the possibility of being valid I can make the following conjectures.

Either the professor or the student could be right depending on how the court rules on the contract.

If the professor wins the suit it means that the contract was valid. It is possible that the court would find the student guilty of misrepresentation (fraud) and order a repayment of the tuition on the grounds that the student did not intent to attempt to take on a court case. It is also possible that the court could rule that there is a breach of contract and the student must attempt practicing law and take on a court case or else be liable for the amount, but there is no certainty that the student will be successful through this ruling.

If the student wins the suit saying he did not breach contract there are a few possible rulings. The first could be that the court views the contract as invalid in which case the student would not be required to pay despite winning a court case. The court could also find that contract valid and that no breach of contract has occurred meaning the student would win the case and be subsequently responsible for the debt.

So my answer really is they are both right and wrong at the same time. The trouble is they are both assuming the courts only have the power to declare a breach of contract, an invalid contract or a valid contract. Both parties have the possibility of either of their options to be correct depending on the circumstances.

farlist

01/09/13

The answer depends on what the student’s defense is to
the prof’s breach of contract (“K”) claim (which would be easy to argue against). If the student simply establishes no breach of K, he wins and has to pay anyway. BUT, he can argue that either a) there is no K, or b) the K is void (there can be several reasons for this). If he chooses the latter approach (no K or void) and wins, then he doesn’t have to pay. Basically, if he argues the K doesnt exist and wins, he can’t be bound by it…but, if he only argues that he didn’t violate the K, once he wins, he now has to fulfill it.

I’d say prof wins, bc there won’t be a strong argument w the latter approach even if he chooses it.

One slim exception can be if the judge tosses the case because its frivolous, and voids the K out of concern for public policy.

Dwight D.

01/09/13

S is right…that is if S will not represent himself in court rather than more like go and hire a lawyer.If he wins,he has won it as an accused and not a practicing lawyer,contrary to their S & P agreement so he won’t be obliged pay up.If S looses, he still won’t be obliged to pay,he has not yet won his first case as per the S & A agreement.

ramaolang

01/09/13

S is right within the paradigm of winning/losing a case brought against you. The implication to begin with was that he would have to win a case as a lawyer. On all levels, the student is right. If P wins the suit against him, the court will force the student to pay. If the student wins the case, he’ll be able to abstain from paying based on semantics alone.

José

01/09/13

They are both playing both sides of the coin – referencing either the Personal Agreement or Legality to suit their side of the argument.

S is referencing Legality when stating he doesn’t have to pay P back, even if he wins, because the contract would be null & void.

P, however, is citing Personal Agreement when stating that S WOULD have to pay if S won the case.

The reverse is true if S loses. In that instance, S references their Personal Agreement to make the outcome suitable for him (that he doesn’t have to pay), while P then cites the Legal outcome (S does have to pay because the court orders it)

The answer depends on which is of higher order – legality or personal agreement? Choosing one or the other would mean, neither of them has a sure bet with the court case.

One will lose.

Personally, I agree with P. In this instance. He deserves his damn money back.

Alice

01/09/13

Neither of them is right in their conclusions but their argument is just like lawyers indeed, ‘brain vs brain’.

David L Ferguson

01/13/13

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