202. A contract in which there are two or more parties on either or both sides may be -

(a) Joint;

(b) Several; or

(c) Joint and several.

Where several persons enter into a contract on the same side, either as promisors or promisees, they may do so jointly or severally, or, in the case of the persons bound, jointly and severally, making a joint promise and several distinct promises at the same time. Whether the contract is joint or several, or both joint and several, depends upon the intention of the parties, as manifested in the evidence of the contract. There are a number of rules for construing contracts, and determining this intention; but we must postpone their consideration until we come to treat of the interpretation of contracts.16 We shall deal here only with the rules that govern the operation of the contract, after such intention has been determined.

The rules which we shall state are the rules of the common law. It is never safe to assume that they are still in force in any particular jurisdiction, for they have been much modified by statute.17

Same - Joint Contracts

203. Where several parties join in a promise,

(a) They are each liable for the whole debt or performance.

(b) They are jointly, and not separately, liable, and must all be sued jointly.

(c) Where one of them dies, the liability devolves upon the survivors, and, on the death of all, upon the personal representative of the last survivor.

(d) A release of one, by act of the promisee, releases all

204. Where a promise is made to several jointly,

(a) They are entitled jointly, and not separately, and must join in a suit on the promise.

(b) Where one of them dies, the legal right devolves upon the survivors, and on them alone.

16 Post, p. 519.

17 a common statutory provision is that all contracts which, by the common law, are joint only, shall be construed to be joint and several. Knapp Y.

Several persons may join in a contract on one side or the other, or there may be several persons on both sides. In these cases the contract is said to be a joint contract or joint debt, and the persons composing the respective parties thereto are called "joint creditors" or "joint promisees," and "joint debtors," or "joint promisors."