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Report No. 13

The Indian Contract Act, 1872

Part I


1. Developments in the law since 1872.-

Since 1872 there have been new developments in the theory of the law of Contract. The common law of England, on which the Indian Contract Act is principally based, had its roots in the real property law, which has been described by Denning, L.J., as being "devoid of moral concepts like mathematics.1" "Rights and wrongs", says Denning, L.J., "did not enter into it nor the redress of grievances; only words and rules and logical deductions from them. In those early days land was the most important kind of property; and the common law lawyers were so absorbed in the land problem that they approached other problems in the same frame of mind.

They looked for certainty, and gave justice a second place. In their hands, the law of Contracts and Torts tended to become as technical and rigid as the law of Property1." In the nineteenth century, freedom of contract was the governing principle. As Prof. Keeton2 points out, the emphasis, today, must be placed upon the problem "whether as a result of unceasing administrative encroachment, freedom of contract will survive at all to any noticeable degree." Modern developments in the law of Contract reflect the aspirations of society in rapid transition.

1. "The Need for a New Equity" in (1952) Current Legal Problems, 1 (8),

2. Elementary Principles of Jurisprudence, 408.

Indian Contract Act, 1872 Back

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