What is Legal Duty Characteristics Elements and Classification

Legal Duty

The legal duty  is an obligation established by a legal rule that must be respected by individuals. Therefore, this duty restricts the freedom of individuals and implies the existence of a legal right in return . There will be a legal duty whenever the breach of the corresponding norm implies some type of sanction or punishment .

Characteristics of legal duty

The main characteristics of these legal obligations are:

  • The legal duties established in a law cannot be presumed, they must be express.
  • It arises through an agreement or contract between two parties has the force of law, which means that it must be respected as if it were a legal norm for the signatory parties.
  • It means granting a right to the citizen who is obliged to fulfill it or to restrict some right. For example, if a law stipulates: The person who borrows money must return that amount plus the agreed interest. This norm is providing a legal duty to the person who takes the loan, that is, the borrower, who will have the obligation to return the money plus interest.
  • Legal duties may be intended for all citizens, as is often the case with those stipulated by criminal laws, or they may only be intended for citizens who are within the scope of application presented by the rule. In the previous example, only people who borrow money would have the obligation to repay money plus interest. On the other hand, if the norm establishes: Whoever kills another person will be guilty of homicide, it establishes a negative obligation, that is, no citizen can take the life of another person.
  • Legal duties can be positive, grant rights, or negative, restrict rights.
  • The subjects of this legal duty can be both individuals and legal entities.

Elements of legal duty

It is made up of three elements: subject, object and legal bond . For example, in a sales contract the elements would be the following:

  • Subjects: the active subject corresponds to the creditor and the passive subject corresponds to the debtor (person who has to fulfill the corresponding legal duty).
  • The object or provision of the obligation is to pay the amount established in the contract .
  • Legal link or cause is the contract, which is the reason that generated the obligation.

Classification of legal duty

The different legal duties to which a citizen may be subjected can be classified as:

  • Positive obligations:
    • Obligation to give: They establish the obligation to deliver something. For example, return the money borrowed.
    • Obligation to do: They establish the obligation to do an activity other than deliver something. For example, finish the agreed work.
  • Negative obligations: They establish the negative obligation not to do. For example, the obligation not to cause inconvenience to the neighbors.
  • Depending on the time that the legal duties last, they can be instantaneous or periodic.
  • Main obligation: Born by itself, through a law or contract. For example, in the case of a sale , the obligation of the buyer to give the thing and that of the seller to deliver the price is a main obligation.
  • Accessory obligation: It only exists because there is a main obligation and not by itself. Thus, for example, the bond , because if there is no main legal duty that must be trusted, the bond is meaningless.

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