Page:Black's Law Dictionary (Second Edition).djvu/851

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OBLIGATION

al, independent of a promise: that which constitutes legal or moral duty, and which renders a person linhle to coercion and pun- ishment for neglecting it. Webster.

"0bligation” is the correlative of “l'i.:'llt." Taking the latter word in its politico-ethical sense, as a poucr of free action lodged in a person. "obligation" is the corresponding duty. constriiint, or binding force which should prevent all other persons from denying, abridging, or ob- structing such right, or interfering with its ex- i-rclse. And tl same is its meaning as the correlative of as in rem." Taking "right" as manning a ‘n persormm." (a power. demand. claim, or privilege inherent in one person, and incident upon another.) the “obiigation" is the N|t'l'Ci\'e force or control imposed upon the person of incidence by the moral law and the positive law, (or the moral law as recognized and sanctioned by the positive law.) constraining him to accede to the demand. render up the thing claimed, pay the money due, or otherwise perform what is expected of him with respect to the subject-niatter of the right.

In a limited and arhitrary sense. it means a penal hood or “writing obligatory," that is. a bond containing a penalty, with a condition nnnexed for the payment of money or performance of covenants. Co. Litt. 172.

Obligation is (1) legal or moral duty, as opposed to physical compulsion: (2) a duty icnumbent upon an individual, or a specific and limited number of individuals, as opposed to a duty imposed upon the world at large; (3) the right to enforce such a duty. (fits in persona.m,) as opposed to such a right as that of property. (jus in rein,) which avails against the world at large: (4) a bond containing a penalty, with a condition annexed, for the payment of money, perforniaxice of covenants, or the like. Mozley & W'hltiey.

In English expositions of the Roman law, anti works upon general jurisprudence, “oh- ligzition” is used to translate the Latin "ob- Ii_mi!io." In this sense its meaning is much wider than as a technical term of English law. See Onuoano.

Classification. The various sorts of obligatious may be classified and defined as follows: They are either perfect or impcrfeot. A perfect obligation is one recognized and sanctioned by positive law: one of which the fulfillment can be enforced ‘by the aid of the law. Aycnclc v. Martin, 37 Ga. 124, 92 Am. Dec. 56. But if the duty created by the obligation operates only on the moral sense, without being enforced by any positive law. it is called an “imperfect ob- ligation." and creates no right of action. nor has it any legal operation. The duty of exer- cising grtititude. charity, and the other merely moral duties is an example of this kind of obligation. Civ_ Code La. art. 1737: Edwards v. Keiirzey. 96 U. S 600, 24 L. Ed. 793.

They are either natural or civil. A natural obligation is one which cannot be enforced by action, but which is binding on the party who makes it in conscience and according to natural justice. Blair v. Williams, 4 Litt. (KY-) 41. A civil obligation is a legal tie, which gives the party with whom it is contracted the right of enforcing its performance by law. Civ. Coda La. art. 1757: Path. Obi. 173, 191.

They are el(lier 21-press or implied: the former being those by \\ hich the oblicor binds him- self iu express tcrms to perform his obligation: vihiie the latter are such as are raised by the implication or inference of the law from the nature of the transaction

They are determtmzte or indeterminate; the

former lasing the case where the thing contract-

843

OBLIGATION

cd to be delivered is spcciflcd us an individual; the latter, where it may be any one of a particu- lar class or species.

They are divisible or indivisible. according as the obligation may or may not be lawfully brok- en intn several distinct obligations without the consent of the obligor.

They are joint or scverai; the former, where there are two or more obligors binding them- selves jointly for the performance of the obii ation; the latter, where the oliligors promise. each for himself. to fulfill the engagement.

They are personal or real,‘ the former being the case when the obligor himself is personally liable for the performance of the engagement, but does not directly hind his property: the latter, where real estate. not the person of the ob- lignr, is primarily liable for performance.

They are heritable or persomii. The former is the case when the heirs and assigns of one

arty may enforce the performance against the ieirs of the other; the letter, when the obiigor binds himself only, not his heirs or representatires.

They are either principal or accessory. A principal obligation is one which is the most important object of the engagement of the contracting parties: while an accessory obligation depends upon or is collateral to the principal.

They may be either conjunctive or al-trrnahi.-e. The former is one in which the several ohjecis in it are connected by a copulative, or in an! other manner which shows that all of them are severally comprised in the contract. _ This contract creates as mamy ditierent obligations as there are diiferent obiects: and the debtor. when he wishes to discharge himself, may force the creditor to receive them separately. But where the things which form the object of the contract are separated by a disjunctive, then the obligation is alternative. A prnmise to deliver a certain thing or to pay a specified sum_ of money

is an example of this kind of obligation. Civ. Code La. art. 2063. They are either simple or conditional. Simple

obligations are such as are not dependent for their execution on any event provided for by the parties, and which are not agreed to become void on the happening of any such event. Conditional obligations are such as are made_ to depend on an uncertain ev_ent. If the 0I)ll.‘—'.’|- tion is not to take effect until the event happens, it is a suspensive condition: if the obligation takes efinct immediately, but is liable to be defeated when the event happens. it is then u res- olutory condition. Civ. (‘ode La. arts. 2020, 2021: Moss v. Smoker. 2 La. Ann. 989.

They may be either single or pcvml; the latter, when a penal clause is attached to the undertaking. to be cnfuvced in case the ohligor fails to perform; the former, when no such penalty is added.

Other onmpnnnfl and descriptive terms. —Mora.l obligation. A duty which is valid and binding in the forum of the conscience but is not recognized by the law as adequate to set in motion the machinery of justice: that is, one which rests upon ethical consideratinns alone, and is not imposed or enforced by positive law. Taylor v. Hotchkiss. 81 App. Div. 470. 80 N. Y. Supp. 1042; Goulding 1'. David- so 25 How. Prat.-. (V. Y.) 433: Bailey v. I‘hiiarlelpl.iifl. 167 Pa. 569. 31 Atl. 925. 46 Am. St. Re . 691.—Ohligation of a contract. As use in Const. U. S. art. 1. § 10, the term means the binding and coercive force which constrains every man to perform the agreements he hns made: a force grounded in, the ethical principle of fidelity to one’s promises, but deriving its legal eflicacy from its recognition by positive law, and sanctioned by the law's providing a remedy for the infraction of the duty or for the enforcement of the correlative right. See Story. Coast. § 1378; Black. Const. Pro- hib. § 139. See Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat.

213, 6 L. Ed. 606; B1811‘ v. Williams. 4 Litt.