OBLIGATION (from Lat. obligo, lig°, to bind). A duty.
A tie which binds us to pay or do some thing agreeably to the laws and customs of the country in which the obligation is made. Inst. 3. 14.
A bond containing a penalty, with a con dition annexed, for the payment of money, performance of covenants, or the like, and which differs from a bill, which is generally without a penalty or condition, though it may be obligatory. Coke, Litt. 172.
A deed whereby a man binds himself un der a penalty to do a thing. Comyns, Dig. Obligation (A); 2 Serg. & R. Penn. 502 ; 6 Vt. 40 ; 1 Blackf. Ind. 241 ; Harp. So. C. 434 ; 1 Baldw. C. C. 129 ; Bouvier, Last. Index.
An absolute obligation is one which gives no alternative to the obligor, but requires ful filment according to the engagement.
An accessory obligation is one which is de pendent on the principal obligation : for ex ample, if I sell you a house and cot of ground, the principal obligation on my part is to make you a title for it ; the acceesory obligation is to deliver you all the title-papers which I have relating to it, to take care of the estate till it is delivered to you, and the like.
An alternative obligation is where a person engages to do or to give several things in such a manner that the payment of one will acquit hitu of all.
Thus, if A agrees to give B, anon a sufficient con sideration, a horse, or one hundred dollars, it is an alternative obligation. Pothier, Obl. pt. 2, c. 3, art. 6, no. 245.
In order to constitute an alternative obligation, it is necessary that two or more things should be promised disjunctively : where they are promised conjunctively, there are as many obligations as the things which are enumerated; but wbere they are in the alternative, though they are all due, there is but one obligation, which may be discharged by the payment of any of them.
The choice of performing one of the obligations belongs to the obligor, unless it is expressly agreed that it shall holong to the creditor. Dougl. 14 1 Ld. Raym. 279; 4 Mart. La. N. s. 167. If one of
Mc acts is prevented by the obligee or the act of Gni, the obligor is discharged from both. See 2 Evans, Pothier, Obl. 52-54; Viner, Abr. Condition (S h); CONJUNCTIVE j DISJUNCTIVE j ELECTION.
A civil obligation is one which has a bind ing operation in law, and which gives to the obligee the right of enforcing it in a court of justice ; in other words, it is an engagement binding on the obligor. 4 Wheat. 197; 12 id. 318, 337.
Civil obligations are divided into express and im plied, pure and conditional, primitive and second ary, principal and accessory, absolute and alterna tive, determinate and indeterminate, divisible and indivisible, single and penal, and joint and several. They are also purely personal, purely real, or mixed.
A conditiona/ obligation is one the execution of which is suspended by a condition which has not been accomplished, and subject to which it has been contracted.
A determinate obligation is one which has for its object a certain thing : as, an obliga tion to deliver a certain horse named Buce phalus. In this case the obligation can only be discharged by delivering the identical horse.
A divisible obligation is one which, being a unit, may nevertheless be lawfully divided with or without the consent of the parties.
It le clear that it may he divided by consent, as these who made it may modify or change it as they please. But some obligations may be divided with out the consent of the obligor : as, Where a tenant is hound to pay two hundred dellara a year rent to his landlord, the obligation is entire ; yet, if his landlord dies and leaves two sons, each will be en titled to one hundred dollars; or if the landlord sells one undivided half of the estate yielding the rent, the purchaser will be entitled to receive one hundred dollars and the seller the other hundred.
Express or conventional obligations are those by which the obligor binds himself in express terms to perform his obligation.