Contract - Origin and Scope

Origin and Scope

Contract law is based on the principle expressed in the Latin phrase pacta sunt servanda, which is usually translated "agreements must be kept" but more literally means "pacts must be kept".

Contract law can be classified, as is habitual in civil law systems, as part of a general law of obligations, along with tort, unjust enrichment, and restitution.

As a means of economic ordering, contract relies on consensual exchange and has been extensively discussed in broader economic, sociological, and anthropological terms (see "Contractual theory" below). In American English, the term extends beyond the legal meaning to encompass a broader category of agreements.

This article mainly concerns the common law. Such jurisdictions usually retain a high degree of freedom of contract, with parties largely at liberty to set their own terms. This is in contrast to the civil law, which typically applies certain overarching principles to disputes arising out of contract, as in the French Civil Code.

However, contract is a form of economic ordering common throughout the world, and different rules apply in jurisdictions applying civil law (derived from Roman law principles), Islamic law, socialist legal systems, and customary or local law.

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