This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Long before simple contracts were recognized by the king's courts,1 and probably before the contract under seal had become established as a formal contract,2 the king's courts had been confronted with a number of problems arising out of grants of land or interests in land upon condition. Since the king's court was the court in which the greater number of questions concerning freehold estates would be decided, and since under the so-called feudal system, questions of this sort were among the most numerous and vital of those which were presented for adjudication, the courts were forced to develop these principles at an early stage of English law. As is always the case when legal ideas are developed at an early stage of legal history, the rules on these subjects were technical and regarded form rather than substance. Archaic as they were, they supplied a great need in the community; and the deficiencies of contract law in the king's courts were to a large extent supplemented by the law of real property.3 When the sealed contract and later on the simple contract came to be employed as instruments for conducting business, there was therefore a great mass of authority on the subject of conditions and a number of well-settled principles. By analogy to the law of real property, a great many of these principles were carried over into the early law of contracts,4 and the definitions used and the authorities cited upon the subject of conditions in contract law are very likely to be drawn from the law of real property even more freely than from the law of contract,5 since the law of conditions is still worked out in much greater detail in real property than it is in the law of contracts. At the same time, the constant tendency of modern courts is to disregard the outward form and to look primarily to the intent of the parties;6 and in this tendency the courts feel freer to treat conditions in contracts in a rational manner than they do when they are dealing with conditions in deeds, leases, wills, and the like.
4 See Sec. 2054. 5 See chs. XX et seq. 1 See Sec. 23 et seq. 2 See Sec. 20.
3 See Sec. 11.
4 See discussion in Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Goodman, 10 Ala. App. 446, 65 So. 449.