Another piece of the puzzle: Are penalty clauses unenforceable or void?

Research output: Other contribution


This paper looks at the rather complex puzzle of liquidated damages and penalties in contracts, and in particular the rule against penalty clauses. It questions whether liquidated damages clauses, when caught by the rule against penalties, should be both unenforceable in court and also treated as invalid or void. The paper examines how the enforcement of liquidated damages clauses is closely related to the enforcement of dispute resolution provisions, and argues that treating the penalty clause as unenforceable is the most appropriate relief. Finally, the paper explains how the rendering of penalty clauses as void could open the floodgates to litigation.
I. Introduction – II. Unenforceable or void, and why does it matter? – III. The authorities – IV. Why should penalty clauses be treated as unenforceable? – A. A matter of procedural dispute – B. Framing liquidated damages clauses as dispute resolution provisions – C. The importance of party autonomy in procedural disputes – D. Adverse downstream effects – V. Conclusions

(Please write to the author at [email protected] for a copy of the paper.)
Original languageEnglish
TypeA commended entry in the Hudson Prize 2020
Media of outputPublished on the Society of Construction Law's Resource Page
PublisherSociety of Construction Law
Number of pages11
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021


  • Penalty Clauses
  • Liquidated Damages Clauses
  • Contract law
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Construction Law
  • Construction Contracts


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