in law, a promise, enforceable by law, to perform or to refrain from performing some specified act. In a general sense, all civil obligations fall under tort
or contract law. Torts are usually characterized as violations of duties that are imposed on all persons and that have been established entirely by law. In contracts, on the other hand, the parties determine, at least in part, what their obligations to one another will be. Special types of contracts are given separate articles, e.g., negotiable instrument
, and deed
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.