The legal duty is an obligation established in a legal norm that the citizen, whether a natural or legal person, has to fulfill and, in the event of not fulfilling it, it will have an associated consequence in the form of a penalty or sanction.
Not only is the obligation contained in the legal norm a legal duty, but also those obligations agreed in contracts, quasi contracts, will be understood as a legal duty. Obligations will also be those that arise from an action or omission involving fault, negligence or fraud.
When the obligation arises from the contract, a legal situation is created in which a person (creditor) has a right (personal or credit) that allows him to demand behavior from another person (debtor), who bears the legal duty to perform in favor of the first a benefit. This legal duty can be of several types that we will see later.
Characteristics of the legal duty
The main characteristics of these legal obligations are:
- The legal duties established in a law cannot be presumed, they must be express.
- The legal duty that arises through a pact 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 signing parties.
- This legal duty supposes granting a right to the citizen who is obliged to fulfill it or restrict any right. For example, if a law stipulates: The person who borrows money, must return that amount plus the agreed interest. This rule is providing a legal duty to the person who takes the loan, that is, to the borrower, who will have the obligation to return the money plus interest.
- Legal duties may be intended for the entire citizenry, 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 the law. 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 natural persons and legal persons.
Classification of legal duty
The different legal duties to which a citizen may be subjected can be classified into:
- 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 to deliver something. For example, finish the agreed work.
- Negative obligations: They establish the negative obligation not to do. For example, obligation not to cause inconvenience to neighbors.
- Depending on how long the legal duties last, they can be instantaneous or periodic.
- Main obligation: It is 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 primary obligation.
- Ancillary 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 secured, the bond is meaningless.