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Report No. 63

5.8. History of contract.-

In this connection, the history of contract is of interest. It has been observed1 that the development of contract can be divided into three stages, which correspond to the history of economic and legal institutions of exchange.2 In the first stage, all exchange is instantaneous, and therefore, "involves nothing corresponding to 'contract' in the Anglo-American sense of the term. Each party becomes the owner of a new thing, and his rights rest, not on a promise, but on property".3

In a second stage, "exchange first assumes a contractual aspect when it is left half-completed, so that only an obligation on one side remains". The "third and final stage in the development occurs when the executory exchange becomes enforceable".

The evolution and expansion of the writ of "debt", as outlined above, broadly proceeds on the same lines.

1. Worton Horwitz History of Contract, (March 1974) 87 Harvard Law Review 917, 991.

2. See e.g. (a) L. Fuller & M. Eisenberg Basic Contract Law, (1972), pp. 121-122; (b) F. Kessler & G. Gilmore Contracts, (1970), pp. 27-28.

3. L. Fuller & M. Eisenberg Basic Contract Law, (1972), pp. 121-122.



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