Obligations in Jurisprudence & Contract Law- A concept

Obligations are an inalienable part of the Contract Law. However the concept of obligations is really confusing with that of concept of duties. It must be emphasised that both are different.

Team Law Community
August 3, 2020

Obligations are an inalienable part of the Contract Law. However the concept of obligations is really confusing with that of concept of duties. It must be emphasised that both are different.

The foundations of law of obligations are presented by Jurisprudence. It clearly gives the difference between the two.

So, let us see what obligations are and how it’s defined in Jurisprudence and Contract Law, its importance and relevance.

The law of obligations in Jurisprudence-

As we know jurisprudence is there to lay foundation of every concept. Same applies to the law of obligations.

· For Salmond an obligation may be defined as a proprietary right in personam or duty which responds to such aright.

· For Paton, an obligation is that part of the law which creates right in personam.

· According to Kant, an obligation is the possession of the will of another as means of determining it through my own in accordance with the law of freedom, to a definite act.

· Savigny said that an obligation is the control over other person yet not over this person in all respects, but over certain acts of his which must be conceived of substance from his free will and subjected to will.

Obligations are merely one class of duties, namely those which are the correlative of right in personam. It is the bond of legal necessity which binds together two individual.

The term obligations is the name not only of a duty but also a correlative right. Looked from the point of view of person bound, it is duty. Moreover all obligations pertain to the sphere of proprietary rights.They form a part of estate of the person who is entitled to them.

Broadly speaking obligations can be of two types-

1. Normal obligations- The normal type of obligation is that in which there is one creditor and one debtor.

2. Solidary obligations- In case of solidary confinement there are two or more creditors entitled to the same liability. The case of two or more creditors requires more debtors’ calls for special consideration.

Example of solidary obligations are debts owing by firm of partners, debts owing by a firm of partners, debts owing by a principal debtor and guaranteed by one or more co-sureties.

Importance of Obligations in Contract-

Obligations include duty to pay debt, to perform contract, or to pay damages but do not include the duty to refrain from interference with the person, property or reputation of others.

On the basis of point of view of sources one type of obligation is obligation arising out of contract.

Contractual obligations are those which are created by contracts or agreements. These obligations create right in personam between the parties. The rights so created are generally proprietary right.

Sometimes a contract creates rights which are not proprietary through they are personam.  An example of such obligation is promise of marriage.

Examples of some Obligations in Contract-

a)The liability of principal debtor and that of his surety provided the contract of surety ship is subsequent to or otherwise independent of the creation of debt so guaranteed.

b)The liability of two or more co-sureties who guarantee the same debt independently of each other.

c)Separate judgments obtained in distinct actions against two or more person liable for the same debt.

d)The liability of the independent wrongdoers whose acts cause the same damage.  


It is pertinent to understand the key concept of obligations, as various normal and special contracts are governed by it.

The definitions of jurist specifically clear the difference between obligations and other concept. Also the liability and duties and rights are very much co-related with it.