Obligations law for beginners - Part 1

This is a series of posts trying to simplify the law on obligations for junior and senior high school students who plan to go to law school in the future, especially those under the Accountancy, Business and Management (ABM) program.

Each post has ten items. As the reader reads and jumps from part to part (from Part 1 to Part 2, Part 3, etc.), she is expected to start developing a clearer understanding of the role of law in our society and an understanding of what the law means and how the law applies to our everyday lives.

It is advised that each post be discussed by the reader with a law student, law graduate or a lawyer so that any question or confusion can be answered sufficiently. It is also recommended that the reader NOT proceed to the next parts unless and until the previous part is FULLY clear to her.

Let's start.

[1] Normally, people who have not studied the law have a wrong or fuzzy understanding of what an obligation is. For example, a boyfriend would tell his girlfriend: "It is your obligation to go out with me to see the movies on our anniversary." However, for business students and law students, this is obviously NOT true. The law has strict guidelines of what are and what are not obligations.

[2] But first, before we move further, why do law students and commerce students have to study obligations law? The answer is simple. They will have clients in the future who will ask them: "Do I have an obligation to pay/to deliver?" Whether the answer is yes or no depends on whether there is an obligation on the part of the client to do, to give or not to do.[3] Going back to our example of a boyfriend telling his girlfriend that it is her obligation to go out with him, a simple analysis would show why is wrong. The definition of an obligation under Article 1156 of the New Civil Code says: "An obligation is a juridical necessity..."

[4] Necessity means something that has to be done or given. There are many necessities we can think of. For example, it is necessary for us to eat, to drink water or to keep ourselves healthy. Otherwise, we run the risk of getting sick or dying. Another necessity would be to study before exams.

[5] Let's take a girl named Jesstine for example. Jesstine has a major exam next week. However, she has decided not to study. Is it necessary for her to study for the exams? The answer is yes; otherwise, she would fail. But, is it a juridical necessity for her to do so? The answer is no.

[6] The next logical question: "What is a juridical necessity?" The word "juridical" means "related to or involving the courts and the law." Therefore, if a necessity is juridical, it means that one can go to court if the other person does not comply with his obligation.

[7] Going back to Jesstine, can her teachers or her parents go to court to sue her for not studying her books and notes before the exam? The obvious answer is no because there is no juridical necessity for Jesstine to do so.

[8] How about not eating healthy food and not drinking water when thirsty? Are these necessities? The answer is yes. But, are these juridical necessities? Of course, not, because nobody can go to court to sue you and as the judge to issue an order/judgment forcing you to eat healthy or drink water.

[9] It is now clear that there are "obligations in the general sense" and "obligations in the legal sense." For commerce and law students, the focus of concern is "legal obligations."

[10] In the next part (Part 2), we will talk about civil obligations, moral obligations and natural obligations. In the meantime, it is enough for you to know that "legal obligations" and "civil obligations" mean the same.

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