earnest(redirected from earnests)
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earnestin Anglo-American law a part-payment made to seal a bargain. At times the implication has been of a token sum that is forfeitable. The Roman law tradition has a very developed equivalent: ARRA. See also DEPOSIT.
EARNEST, contracts. The payment of a part of the price of goods sold, or the
delivery of part of such goods, for the purpose of binding the contract.
2. The effect of earnest is to bind the goods sold, and upon their being paid for without default, the buyer is entitled to them. But notwithstanding the earnest, the money must be paid upon taking away the goods, because no other time for payment is appointed; earnest only binds the bargain, and gives the buyer a right to demand, but a demand without payment of the money is void; after earnest given the vendor cannot sell the goods to another, without a default in the vendee, and therefore if the latter does not come and pay, and take the goods, the vendor ought to go and request him, and then if he does not come, pay for the goods and take them away in convenient time, the agreement is dissolved, and he is at liberty to sell them to any other person. 1 Salk. 113: 2 Bl. Com. 447; 2 Kent, Com. 389; Ayl. Pand. 450; 3 Campb. R. 426.