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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 ?
(10) Raz argues that the point of promising is that by making a promise the promisor gives or provides something for the promisee.
Dancing and chanting to the tune of slogans are leaders and party workers promising commitments that have rarely been delivered in the past.
Dancing and chanting to the tune of slogans and slogan mongering are leaders and party workers promising their hearts out such commitments that have rarely been delivered in the past.
The most promising idea came from a company describing their concept for an airdrop container.
But in litigation over breach of promise for payment of damages, it was possible that she might claim to have been engaged to a more promising man.
Regulators say older investors are being targeted with increasingly complex investment schemes that can involve unregistered securities, promissory notes, charitable gift annuities, viatical settlements and Ponzi schemes, all promising big returns, the NASAA reported.
No one is promising that citizens will lower their expectations anytime soon.
A new financial services company is promising to create more than 300 jobs in the West Midlands over the next two years.
Recently, for example, we received a package with the carrier promising "The ONE ACTION you can take to dramatically reduce the risk of heart attack" (or words to that effect).
In 2000, McMahon and his colleagues reported promising results after giving rodents a protein called glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF).
Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) has proposed creation of an American Center for Cures, funded at $150 billion over 10 years, to cooperate with the NIH in evaluating and implementing promising new medical treatments for common chronic diseases.
iSCSI is the most promising protocol for achieving high-speed IP storage requirements.

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