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The law of obligations is one branch of
private law Private law is that part of a civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as ...
under the
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and infl ...
and so-called "mixed" legal systems. It is the body of rules that organizes and regulates the rights and duties arising between individuals. The specific rights and duties are referred to as ''obligations'', and this area of law deals with their creation, effects and extinction. An obligation is a legal bond (''vinculum iuris'') by which one or more parties (obligants) are bound to act or refrain from acting. An obligation thus imposes on the ''obligor'' a duty to perform, and simultaneously creates a corresponding right to demand performance by the ''obligee'' to whom performance is to be tendered.


History

The word originally derives from the Latin "obligare" which comes from the root "lig" which suggests being bound, as one is to
God In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...

God
for instance in "re-ligio". This term first appears in Plautus' play
Truculentus ''Truculentus'' is a comedic Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the po ...
at line 214. Obligations did not originally form part of
Roman Law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
, which mostly concerned issues of succession, property, and family relationships. It developed as a solution to a gap in the system, when one party committed a
wrong A wrong (from Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a lang ...

wrong
against another party. These situations were originally governed by a basic customary law of revenge. This undesirable situation eventually developed into a system of liability where people were at first encouraged and then essentially forced to accept monetary compensation from the wrongdoer or their family instead of seeking vengeance. This signaled an important shift in the law away from vengeance and towards compensation. The state supported this effort by standardizing amounts for certain wrongs. Thus the earliest form of Obligation law derives out of what we would today call Delict. However, it is important to note that liability in this form did not yet include the idea that the debtor "owed" monetary compensation to the creditor, it was merely a means of avoiding punishment. If the debtor or his family didn't have the means to pay then the old rules still applied as outlined in the
twelve tables The ''Law of the Twelve tables'' ( la, Leges Duodecim Tabularum or ) was the legislation that stood at the foundation of Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand y ...
, specifically table 3. This section, despite how harsh it may appear to us, was originally developed as a means to protect debtors from the excessive abuses of creditors.


Definition

Justinian Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...
first defines an obligation (''obligatio'') in his '' Institutiones'', Book 3, section 13 as "a legal bond, with which we are bound by necessity of performing some act according to the laws of our State." He further separates the law of obligations into
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract
s,
delict Delict (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
s,
quasi-contract A quasi-contract (or implied-in-law contract or constructive contract) is a fictional Fiction is any creative workA creative work is a manifestation of creative effort including fine artwork (sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visu ...
s, and
quasi-delict ''Quasi-delict Delict (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power o ...
s. Nowadays, obligation, as applied under civilian law, means a legal tie (''vinculum iuris'') by which one or more parties (obligants) are bound to perform or refrain from performing specified conduct (prestation). Thus an obligation encompasses both sides of the equation, both the obligor's duty to render prestation and the obligee's right to receive prestation. It differs from the common-law concept of obligation which only encompasses the duty aspect. Every obligation has four essential requisites otherwise known as the elements of obligation. They are: # the
obligor A contract is a legally binding document between at least two parties that defines and governs the rights and duties of the parties to an agreement. A contract is legally enforceable because it meets the requirements and approval of the law. A ...
: obligant duty-bound to fulfill the obligation; he who has a duty. # the
obligee A contract is a legally binding document between at least two parties that defines and governs the rights and duties of the parties to an agreement. A contract is legally enforceable because it meets the requirements and approval of the law. A ...
: obligant entitled to demand the fulfillment of the obligation; he who has a right. # the subject matter, the prestation: the performance to be tendered. # a legal bond, the
vinculum Vinculum may refer to: * Vinculum (ligament), a band of connective tissue, similar to a ligament, that connects a flexor tendon to a phalanx bone * Vinculum (symbol), a horizontal line used in mathematical notation for a specific purpose * Vinculum ...
juris: the cause that binds or connects the obligants to the prestation.


Classification in Roman Law


Sources

Obligations arising out of the will of the parties are called ''voluntary'', and those imposed by operation of law are called ''involuntary''. Sometimes these are called conventional and obediential. The events giving rise to obligations may be further distinguished into specified categories. * voluntary: ** unilateral promise (''pollicitatio'') - undertaking by promisor only to perform, not requiring the agreement of the beneficiary ** contract **
quasi-contract A quasi-contract (or implied-in-law contract or constructive contract) is a fictional Fiction is any creative workA creative work is a manifestation of creative effort including fine artwork (sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visu ...
*** ''
negotiorum gestio ''Negotiorum gestio'' (, Latin for "management of business") is a form of spontaneous voluntary agency (law), agency in which an intervenor or intermeddler, the ''gestor'', acts on behalf and for the benefit of a principal (commercial law), principa ...
'' - duty to repay an intervenor (''gestor'') who has managed the affairs or property of another (''dominus negotii'') who was unable to so *** ''solutio indebiti'' - undue payment or delivery of a thing to another (''accipiens''), who is then obligated to return the thing to the payer (''solvens'') * involuntary: ** delicts and quasi-delicts (equivalent to the
common-law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dict ...

tort
). **
unjust enrichment In laws of equity, unjust enrichment occurs when one person is enriched at the expense of another in circumstances that the law sees as unjust. Where an individual is unjustly enriched, the law imposes an obligation upon the recipient to make res ...
(''
condictio indebiti The condictio indebiti is an Condictio, action in Civil law (legal system), civil (Roman) law whereby a plaintiff may recover what he has paid the defendant by mistake; such mistaken payment is known as ''solutio indebiti''. This action does not l ...
'') One of the first known classifications was made by
Gaius Gaius, sometimes spelled ''Gajus'', Cajus, Caius, was a common Latin praenomen The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a personal name A personal name, or full name, in onomastic Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, ...
in his ''Institutions'', who divided obligations into obligations ''ex contractu'' (obligations arising from legal actions) and obligations ''ex delicto'' (obligations arising from illegal, unlawful actions). However, since this classification was obviously too vague, in his work ''Res cottidinanae'' Gaius classified all obligations into the aforementioned obligations ''ex contractu'' ''and obligations ex delicto,'' as well as obligations ''ex variis causarum figuris'''','' which was a
heterogeneous Homogeneity and heterogeneity are concepts often used in the sciences Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about th ...
category that was supposed to include all the cases of obligations not arising from delicts or contracts. The most precise Roman classification of obligations was featured in Justinian's ''Institutions'' (not to be confused by Gaius's ''Institutions''), which classified them as obligations arising from contracts (''ex contractu''), those arising from delicts (''ex maleficio''), those arising from quasi-contracts (''quasi ex contractu''), and those arising from quasi-delicts (''quasi ex maleficio'').


Contracts

A contract can be broadly defined as an agreement that is enforceable at law.
Gaius Gaius, sometimes spelled ''Gajus'', Cajus, Caius, was a common Latin praenomen The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a personal name A personal name, or full name, in onomastic Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, ...
classified contracts into four categories which are: contracts '' consensu'', verbal contracts, contracts '' re'', and contracts '' litteris''. But this classification cannot cover all the contracts, such as pacts and innominate contracts; thus, it is no longer used. According to many modern legal scholars, the most important classification of contracts is that of contracts ''consensu,'' which only require the consent of wills to create obligations, and formal contracts, which have to be concluded in a specific form in order to be valid (for example, in many European countries a contract regulating the purchase of
real estate Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, (more genera ...

real estate
must be concluded in a special written form that is validated by a
public notary A notary public ( notary or public notary; notaries public) of the common law is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters usually concerned with general financial transactions, estates, deeds, powers- ...
).


Delicts


Quasi-contracts

Quasi-contracts are supposed to be sources of obligations very similar to contracts, but the main difference is that they are not created by an agreement of wills. The main cases are ''negotiorum gestio'' (conducting of another person's affairs without their authorization),
unjust enrichment In laws of equity, unjust enrichment occurs when one person is enriched at the expense of another in circumstances that the law sees as unjust. Where an individual is unjustly enriched, the law imposes an obligation upon the recipient to make res ...
, and ''solutio indebiti''. This Roman classification is quite controversial for today's standards, since many of these cases would be considered as completely different from contracts (most notably unjust enrichment), and would instead be classified as delicts or special sources of obligations.


Quasi-delicts

The designation comprised a group of actions that are very similar to delicts, but lacking one of key elements of delicts. It includes ''res suspensae'', responsibility for things poured or thrown out of buildings, responsibility of shippers/innkeepers/stablekeepers, and erring judges. For example, the responsibility of
inn Inns are generally establishments or buildings where travelers can seek lodging Lodging refers to the use of a short-term dwelling In law, a dwelling (also known as a residence or an abode) is a self-contained unit of accommodation ...

inn
keepers creates obligations when certain things left by guests in the lodging are destroyed, damaged or lost by the innkeeper's assistants or
employees Employment is the relationship between two parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview; cropped away black border edge.jpg, 300px, ''Hip, Hip, Hurrah!'' ...

employees
. In this case, the innkeeper is responsible for the damages to the guest's property, even though he did not cause them personally.


Subject matter

Obligations are classified according to the nature of the performance (prestation): * real obligation - related somehow to immovable property * obligation to give - obligations to give or possession, or enjoyment ** specific obligation - delivery of a determinate thing when it is particularly designated or physically separated from all others of the same class ** generic obligation - delivery of a generic thing * personal obligations - undertakings either to do or not do all kinds of work or service ** positive personal obligation - undertaking or obligation to do ** negative personal obligation - forbearance or obligation to not do


See also

*
Right Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is desc ...

Right
* Solidary obligations *
Swiss Code of Obligations Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial ...


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Law Of Obligations