This section is from the book "Popular Law Library Vol1 Introduction To The Study Of Law Legal History", by Albert H. Putney. Also see: Popular Law-Dictionary.
Striking differences appear in the fundamental conceptions of the nature of a contract to be found in the two great systems of jurisprudence, the Roman Law and the Common Law. There are two standpoints from which a contract may be viewed, that of the right, and that of the obligation or duty. To a certain extent each is the correlative of the other, but they are not the exact correlative. A right created by a contract in favor of one of the parties to it places a corresponding duty upon the other; but one party may be under obligation to do what the other party has strictly no right to claim. The great difference between the principle of the Roman Law and the Common Law on this subject arises from the fact that the Roman Law is looking primarily at the obligation and the Common Law at the right. The result was that the Roman Law would enforce a contract founded upon moral obligation, while one of the most fundamental principles of the Common Law has always been that a consideration is necessary for the validity of any agreement. These distinctions will be further considered under the subjects of Legal History and Contracts.