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Law Notes History of English Law Notes

History Of Contract And Tort Law Introduction Notes

Updated History Of Contract And Tort Law Introduction Notes

History of English Law Notes

History of English Law

Approximately 129 pages

History of English Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Cambridge, UK. The notes cover all the major History of English Law cases and so are perfect for anyone studying law in the UK or a great supplement for those doing legal history studies abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London). These notes are formed from a reading of the cases and numerous textbooks and are vigorous and concise. Every major topic is dealt with in three ways:

A) Sho...

The following is a more accessible plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our History of English Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

History of Contract and Tort Law

Law of Obligations

Law of Obligations’: Comprises the law of contract, quasi-contract (restitution) and torts.

Law of torts: Governs infringements of interests protected by the law independently of private agreement.

Law of contract: Governs expectations arising out of particular transactions between individual persons. Can be analysed in terms either of the right to performance, or of the wrong of breaking the contract.


Law of Contract

+ Baker: Has not evolved lineally from a single starting point. History has been affected by evidential problems, jurisdictional shifts, and the extension of trespass actions to remedy the deficiencies of the praecipe writs.

Medieval terminology:

Contract’: Denoted a transaction, such as a sale or loan, which transferred property or generated a debt; it did not mean a mere consensual agreement.

Covenant’: A legally binding agreement (conventio). Modern sense of the word ‘contract’.

Medieval Enforcement:

  • Ancient communal assemblies/medieval town cts - Plaintiff made complaint in some standard form, and proof was by oath. Everyone knew that contracts ought to be performed.

  • Royal courts - Answer governed by the writ system.


  • ‘Covenant’ was to acquire a restricted technical meaning because of the limited way in which actions of covenant were allowed to work in the central courts, and it then became necessary to find a general word to replace it. ‘Contract’ would not do because of its special connotations.

  • Word which ultimately prevailed was ‘undertaking’ (assumptio). This was brought about by the development of forms of action designed to remedy wrongdoing, by in effect making it a tort to damage someone in breach of...

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