The Roman law, like the common law, recognized the possibility of a community of obligations for the payment of the same debt, but the lines of distinction drawn in the Roman law are not the same as those of the common law. In the first place, in direct contrast with the rule of the common law, a collective promise by several persons in the Roman law, presumptively made each of them liable for only a ratable share of the thing promised;9 and such is the rule of the modern civil law.10
A promise to several collectively in the Roman law likewise, presumptively entitled each of them to only a ratable share of the performance.11 But in the case of a correal obligation or of a solidary obligation, some of the incidents of the English law of several liability for the same debt may be found. It is a matter of dispute among Roman lawyers whether any distinction existed between a solidary obligation and a correal obligation.12 The distinction, whether actually existing or not, has no analogy in English or American law, and need not be dwelt upon. It is enough to say that it was of the essence of a correal obligation that each co-debtor was individually liable for the whole debt, and each co-creditor had full authority to enforce the obligation. The correal debtor, therefore, resembled a debtor severally liable for the same debt with others under the English law, but in the Roman law the conception seems to have been that there was but one obligation, although that might be enforced against any of the correal debtors. Similarly where there were several creditors the right might be enforced by any one of them; but an action by one destroyed not only his own right of action but that of each of the other correal creditors. In short, in the correal obligation, the right and duty was looked upon as one and indivisible, but each party liable or entitled might give or demand performance.13
9Sohm's Institutes, Sec. 74, n. 1.
103 Larombiere Obligations, 256, et seq. See also the German Civil Code, Secs. 420 et seq. Such also is the law of Louisiana: "A joint obligation under the law of Louisiana binds the several parties thereto only for their proportion of the debt." Groves v.
Sentell, 153 U. S. 465, 38 L. Ed. 785.
11Hunter's Roman Law (3d ed.), 654.
12 In support of the distinction between the two, see Sohm's Institutes, Sec. 74. In opposition to the distinction see Hunter's Roman Law (3d ed.), 561.