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A written or oral declaration given in exchange for something of value that binds the maker to do, or forbear from, a certain specific act and gives to the person to whom the declaration is made the right to expect and enforce performance or forbearance. An undertaking that something will or will not occur. It is a manifestation of intent to act, or refrain from acting, in a certain manner.

In the law of Commercial Paper, an undertaking to pay. It must be more than an acknowledgment of an obligation.

The person who makes the declaration is the promisor. The person to whom the declaration is made is called the promisee.

In contracts, a promise is essential to a binding legal agreement and is given in exchange for consideration, which is the inducement to enter into a promise. A promise is illusory when the promisor does not bind herself to do anything and, therefore, furnishes no consideration for a valid contract.

A promise implied in fact is a tacit promise that can be inferred from expressions or acts of the promisor. A promise implied by law can arise when no express declaration is made, but the party, in Equity and justice, is under a legal duty as if he had in fact actually made a promise.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1) n. a firm agreement to perform an act, refrain from acting, or make a payment or delivery. In contract law, if the parties exchange promises, each promise is "consideration" (a valuable item) for the other promise. Failure to fulfill a promise in a contract is a breach of the contract, for which the other party may sue for performance and/or damages. 2) v. to make a firm agreement to act, refrain from acting, or make a payment or delivery. (See: contract, consideration)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

PROMISE, contr. An engagement by which the promisor contracts towards another to perform or do something to the advantage of the latter.
     2. When a promise is reduced to the form of a written agreement under seal, it is called a covenant.
     3. In order to be binding on the promisor, the promise must be made upon a sufficient consideration -- when made without consideration, however, it may be binding in foro conscientice, it is not obligatory in law, being nudum pactum. Rutherf. Inst. 85; 18 Eng. C. L. Rep. 180, note a; Merl. Rep. h.t.
     4. When a promise is made, all that is said at the time, in relation to it, must be considered; if, therefore, a man promise to pay all he owes, accompanied by a denial that he owes anything, no action will lie to enforce such a promise. 15 Wend. 187.
     5. And when the promise is conditional, the condition must be performed before it becomes of binding force. 7 John. 36. Vide Condition. Promises are express or implied. Vide Undertaking, and 5 East, 17 2 Leon. 224, 5; 4 B. & A. 595.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
As PROMIS has applied modern psychometric analysis to the data, survey participants do not have to respond to the entire items in any bank in order for stable estimates.
As a senior agent in the FBI's counter-terrorism bureau, sources say Hanssen was tasked with helping allies like Germany and England with the installation and use of their versions of the PROMIS program.
Promis would search through its records and produce details of these conspiracies, even though the person might have been operating under a different name in the past - the programme was sophisticated enough to find a detail that would reveal his true identity."
"We will support Compaq's OpenVMS platform into the foreseeable future and in fact have several important updates that we will be announcing soon that will continue to add value to the PROMIS product set as semiconductor manufacturing transitions to 300mm wafers," said Jim Golden, vice president, Factory Management Software for PRI.
In connection with the execution of the definitive agreement, Promis granted PRI a contingent option to purchase up to 19.9% of the common shares of Promis at a price of US$4.29 (CDN$6.65) per share.
David Milner is a 48 year old university-educated landscape gardener who was treated at the Promis Centre.
His expertise and advocacy will help guide ProMIS development plans relating to treatment of AD in Down syndrome.
Each unit consisted of one ProMIS common share and one-half of a ProMIS share purchase warrant.
L'ancienne gloire du football Diego a promis d'assister aux demi-finales si son pays se qualifie, a rapporte le capitaine Agustin Creevy.
Il lui a promis un amour eternel, une fidelite absolue, une tendresse angelique, un attachement de cygne.