CHAPTER ONE OBLIGATIONS IN GENERAL 1.1 Introduction This chapter is intended to introduce the students to the basic notions of obligations and contracts that are crucial to understand the chapters that follow. Here, the chapter will discuss the concept of obligations, the sources of obligations, types of obligations, the meaning of contracts, the historical development of contracts and contract law, as well as brief discussion on economic analysis of contract law. 1.2 The concept of obligation The conceptual foundation of obligation traces as far back to ancient Roman law which defines obligation as a means of an undertaking or legally binding relationships where one party promises the other party to perform some acts or to do something. Ancient well-known Roman lawyers defined obligations based on their personal opinion, which as a result has develop the concept of obligation. Year Gay, a Roman jurist, defines obligation as ‘a means of personal claim brought against another in order to force him before us to give us so as to we are able to enforce our rights. Gay also classifies obligation in terms of contract, quasi-contract, delict, and quasi-delcit Pavel year also understood obligation as an undertaking not by Roman citizens to perform some acts or to do or to give or to render rights to non-roman citizens regarding to give, to do, or to render some rights to roman citizens. The concept of obligation by both classical legal scholars was unilateral in character and discriminatory in nature since it imposes obligation to do, to give or to render rights only on non-roman citizens not the Romans. Page | 1 However, the institute of Justinian defines obligation as a legally binding relations when Roman citizens undertake to perform certain acts or to do something in accordance with the Roman law. Obligation defined in the institute of Justinian, differed from the obligations defined in the classical Roman jurists in that the institute defines obligation in the aspect that Roman citizens to carry out. In general the concept of obligation can clearly be expressed as; a) Obligation to give or not to give b) Obligation to do or not to do c) Obligation to render rights to others to do something. 1.3 Definition of Obligations Black’s law dictionary defines obligation as ‘a legal duty or moral duty to do or not to do something’. Common-law scholars such as Fredrick Pollock defines obligation in its popular sense as merely synonym for ‘duty’. In its legal sense derived from roman laws ‘an obligation is the bond of legal necessity or vinculum juris which binds together two or more determinate individuals’. John Salmond (year) defined obligation in its more general acceptation as ‘something the law or morals command a person to do a command that is made effective by the imposition of sanction if a person failed to comply such a command’ In the modern legal systems and currently existing legal materials, there is no exact or single whole definition of obligation. However, some scholars define it based on their own legal system For instance French judges define the term obligation as a legally binding relations to another party is obliged to give or to do or not to do something. Page | 2 Likewise the Ethiopian civil code, in the book IV of the code uses the term obligations with out defining what it means. However, like French judges who define obligations indirectly from article 1101 of the French civil code of the term contract as an agreement whereby two or more persons as between themselves create, vary or extinguish obligations of proprietary nature. 1.4 Sources of obligations According to Gay, Roman jurist, the fundamental source of obligation can be classified into two: a) Contract b) Beyond the contract Those obligations, which arises beyond the contract, are divided into unjust enrichment (quasi-contract), unlawful acts (delict) and causing physical injure to the person or causing damage to property of person (quasi-delict). In modern time, the laws of different countries clearly express the sources of obligation. For instance, French civil code classifies the source of obligation as; i) Obligation that arises from contract ii) Obligations that arise beyond the contract iii) Obligation that arises from the unlawful acts iv) Obligations that arises from the causing of physical injure or causing material damage vi) Obligations arising from law In Ethiopian legal system, there are no clearly stated classifications of so

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