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date: 30 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Anglo-American law of obligations was profoundly reshaped in the two centuries after 1800, driven by social and economic changes, and changes in legal institutions and doctrines. In contract law, nineteenth-century jurists increasingly sought to put the rules of law into a coherent rational framework (inspired by continental models resting on will theory), though they soon found that this theory could not explain many contractual doctrines. In tort law, jurists were also divided over whether unifying principles underlying tort could be uncovered, with formalist efforts to find such principles being challenged by Realists who argued that tort was in effect ‘public law in disguise’. The quest for underlying principles was also pursued by scholars of unjust enrichment, first in the United States and subsequently in England; though as in the other areas of obligations, by the end of the twentieth century, there was no consensus on whether this was possible.

Keywords: contract, tort, obligations, unjust enrichment, formalism, Realism, common law

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