OBLIGATION, in law, a term derived from the Roman law, in which obligatio signified a tie of law (vinculum juris) whereby one person is bound to perform or forbear some act for another.
The obligatio of Roman law arose either from voluntary acts or from circumstances to which legal consequences were annexed.
Obligatio was used to denote either end of the legal chain that bound the parties, the right of the party who could compel fulfilment of the obligatio, the creditor, or the duty of the party who could be compelled to fulfilment, the debitor.
Simplex and duplex obligatio were the old names for what are now more commonly called a single and a double or conditional bond.
The word "bond" is of course a mere translation of obligatio.
A perfect obligation is one which is directly enforceable by legal proceedings; an imperfect or moral obligation (the naturalis obligatio of Roman law) is one in which the vinculum juris is in some respects incomplete, so that it cannot be directly enforced, though it is not entirely destitute of legal effect.
The word usage examples above have been gathered from various sources to reflect current and historial usage. They do not represent the opinions of YourDictionary.com.