Unilateral Gratuitous Obligations

Unilateral gratuitous obligations are undertaken voluntarily and are also known as unilateral voluntary obligations or gratuitous promises. If one person promises in definite terms to do something for benefit to another, he may be under a legal obligation to keep his promise.

Example: promise to give a sum of money to charity.

This is unilateral. It imposes a legal obligation on only one person (the promisor / donor) and it is gratuitous because the other party (the charity) does not to do anything in order to be entitled to the money.

Not a major feature of commercial dealings, but they do sometimes arise in a business context. Examples:

  • A promise to keep an offer open for a certain period of time
  • A promise to renegotiate the terms of a contract

In England, gratuitous obligations are not generally regarded as being enforcement. This is because, in English law, there is a doctrine of consideration which requires that both parties must be under an obligation to give something of value, before either will be legally bound to an obligation. Gratuitous obligations will only be enforced by the courts if they are constituted by a formal deed under seal.

Famous quotes containing the words obligations and/or gratuitous:

    The parent who loves his child dearly but asks for nothing in return might qualify as a saint, but he will not qualify as a parent. For a child who can claim love without meeting any of the obligations of love will be a self-centered child and many such children have grown up in our time to become petulant lovers and sullen marriage partners because the promise of unconditional love has not been fulfilled.
    Selma H. Fraiberg (20th century)

    It does me good to write a letter which is not a response to a demand, a gratuitous letter, so to speak, which has accumulated in me like the waters of a reservoir.
    Henry Miller (1891–1980)