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Jurisprudence

Sources of Law: Agreements

Jurisprudence is essentially the knowledge of the law and legal language. It can be described as the essence of the current legal system in the world. It is like the grammar of a language, it provides syntax and structure to the concept of law. Let us understand the concept and definition of an agreement and see how it is a source of law.

Definition of an Agreement

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In general terms, an agreement is two persons agreeing about something. It is what we call a ‘meeting of minds’. But in jurisprudence, an agreement has a more definite meaning. It is actually one of the essential steps of a contract. When one of the parties accepts the offer made by the other party, then both parties are in agreement.

Now as per the Contract Act, every promise which involves consideration is an agreement. But what is a promise? A promise is a proposal by one party that is acceptable to the other party. And when the agreement creates legal obligations on both parties then it is an enforceable contract.

So an agreement between two parties creates mutual obligations. And such obligations are enforceable by law. Typically an agreement involves some exchange of goods or money or services or some combination of them. It alters the rights and obligations of both parties involved. So an agreement is an essential aspect of any contract.

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Sources of Contract Law

Contract law controls most agreements and transactions under the law. Any exchange of goods, services, money, etc. is generally covered under contract law. Let us take a look at the two sources of contract law in general.

  • Common Law: This refers to the precedent set in the courts of aw around the land. These are rules and regulations found in the customs of the land. We can also refer to the historical literature about law and jurisprudence as a source of law. In this case, common law mostly refers to the judicial decisions by judges. Here we rely on the judicial knowledge of experts like judges and councils. These will set a precedent for all future cases.
  • Uniform Commercial Code: This specifically deals only applies to commercial laws. It is a set of rules and standards that govern commercial transactions between two parties and promotes fairness and equality.

In India, Contract Law falls under Mercantile Law. In 1872, we finally codified these principles of personal law and mercantile transactions. The sources of these mercantile laws and specifically Contract Act in India are as follows,

  • English Law: The law was formed before our independence. So almost all aspects of these mercantile laws and the Indian Contract Act are influenced by the English Law. Changes were made to adapt the laws to Indian customs and practices.
  • Trade Usages: Many Indian laws and statues make special provisions for local trade practices and usages. It would otherwise be very difficult to implement these laws if they were opposed to local business and commercial customs.

Solved Question on Agreement

Q: All contracts are agreements, but not all agreements are necessarily contracts. Explain.

Ans: An agreement, enforceable by law, is a contract. So all contracts have to be agreements first. However, an agreement not enforceable by law is not a contract. Take for example a social agreement you made with a friend to go to dinner. This is an agreement. But since it is not legally enforceable it is not a contract.

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