Differentiating Property from Contract
In Llewellyn's words, "Title-thinking [is] Sales law viewed as property law. . . . " In contradistinction, he characterized his analytical approach as being rooted "in the proposition that the modern law of Sale is a law of contract for future delivery; that the present sale plays little part today in litigation; and that most problems commonly dealt with under the heading of 'title' are obscured rather than clarified by that dealing."
In other words, although sales, by definition, involve the conveyance of property, modern mercantile transactions cannot be reduced to conveyancing. There are aspects of sales relations which are purely contractual in nature—such as terms relating to production specifications, requirements, warranties, credit, transportation, storage, and so on. They should, therefore, be left to the general principle of freedom of contract.
Unfortunately, according to Llewellyn, the common law tended to assume that all legal issues relating to sales were property issues and that all property rights could be reduced to possession. This is why he entitled one of his critiques Through Title to Contract and a Bit Beyond and began it with the reminder that "[t]he law of Sales, as is well known, is in one
phase part of the law of contract, in another phase part of the law of property." The common law of sales repressed contract and subordinated the contract aspects of sales to the property aspect.
The approach of prevailing Sales doctrine . . . is this: Unless cogent reason be shown to the contrary, the location of Title will govern every point which it can be made to govern.
In other words, Llewellyn denied neither the coherence or unity of the concept of property, generally, nor the property aspects of sales, specifically. But he condemned common-law property analysis for making the grave category mistake of trying to analyze contract issues in terms of property principles. He hoped that he could avoid this error by concentrating on the contract aspects of sales and deemphasizing the property aspects and by developing new language for the analysis of sales.