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obligation, natural, obligations, obligor, estate, perform, example and pay


Express or conventional obligations are those by which the obligor' binds himself in express terms to perform his obligation.

Imperfect obligations are those which are not binding on us as between man and man, and for the non-performance of which we are accountable to God only: such as charity or gratitude. In this 'sense an obligation is a mere duty. Pothier, Obl. art. pre. n. 1.

An implied obligation is one which arises by operation of law : as, for example, if I send you daily a loaf of bread, without any express authority, and you make use of it in your family, the law raises an obligation on your part to pay me the value of the 'bread.

An indeterminate obligation is one where the obligor binds himself to deliver one of a certain species as, to deliver a horse, where the delivery of any horse will dis charge the obligation.

An indivisible obligation is one which is not susceptible of division : as, for example, if I promise to pay you one hundred dollars, you cannot assign one-half of this to another, so as to give him a right of action against me for his share. See DIVISIBLE.

A joint obligation is one by which several obligors promise to the obligee to perform the obligation. When the obligation is only joint, and the obligors do not promise sepa rately to fulfil their engagement, they must be all sued, If living, to compel the perform ance: or, if any be dead, the survivors must all be sued. See PARTIES.

A natural or moral obligation is one which cannot be enforced by action, but which is binding on the party who makes it in con science and according to natural justice.

As, for instance, when the action is barred by the act of limitation, a natural obligation still subsists, although the civil obligation is extinguished; Jones v. Moore, 5 Biun. (Pa.) 573, 6 Am. Dec. 428. Although natural ob ligations cannot be enforced by action, they have the following effect . first, no suit will lie to recover back what has been paid or given in compliance with a natural obliga tion; 1 Term 285; Rosenda v. Zabriskie, 4 Rob. (La.) 493; second, a natural obliga gation has been held to be a sufficient con sideration for a new contract; Greeves v. McAllister, 2 Binn. (Pa.) 591; Clark v. Herring, 5 id. 33; Yelv. 41 a, n. 1; Cowp.. 290; 2 Bla. Corn. 445; 3 Bos. & P. 249, n.;. 2 East 506; 3 Taunt. 31] ; 5 id. 36; Mills v. Wyman, 3 Pick. (Mass.) 207; Chitty, Contr., 12th ed. 38; Hare, Contr. 264; Poll. Contr.


Obediential obligations. Such obligations as are incumbent on parties in consequence of the situation or relationship in which they are placed. Ersk. Prin. 60.

A penal obligation is one to which is at tached' a penal clause, which is to be en forced if the principal obligation be not per formed. See LIQUIDATED DAMAGES.

A perfect obligation is one which gives a right to another to require us to give him something or not to do something. These obligations are either natural or moral, or they are civil.

A personal obligation is one by which the obligor binds himself to perform an act, without directly binding his property for its performance.

It also denotes an obligation in which the obligor binds himself only, not including his heirs or representatives.

A primitive obligation, which in one sense may also be called a principal obligation, is one which is contracted with a design that it should itself be the first fulfilled.

A principal obligation is one which is the most important object of the engagement of the contracting parties.

A pure or simple obligation is one which is not suspended by any condition, either because it has been contracted without con dition, or, having been contracted with one, it has been fulfilled.

A real obligation is one by which real es tate, and not the person, is liable to the ob ligee for the performance.

A familiar example will explain this. When an estate owes an easement as a right of way, it is the thing, and not the owner, who owes the easement. Another instance occurs when a person buys an estate which has been mortgaged, subject to the mort gage: he is not liable for the debt, though the estate is. In these cases the owner has an interest only because he is seized of the servient estate or the mortgaged premises, and he may discharge himself by abandon ing or parting with the property. The ob ligation is both personal and real when the obligor has bound hinrself and pledged his estate for the fulfilment of the obligations.

A secondary obligation is one which is contracted and is to be performed in case the primitive cannot be. For example, if I sell you my house, I bind myself to give a title: but I find I cannot, as the title is in another : then my seconda/•y obligation is to pay you damages for my non-perform ance of my obligation.

A several obligation is one by which one individual, or, if there be more, several in dividuals, bind themselves separately to per form the engagement. In this case each obligor may be sued separately ; and if one or more be dead, their respective executors may be sued. See PARTIES.

A single obligation is one without any penalty : as where I simply promise to pay you one hundred dollars. This is called a single bill, when it is under seal.