was carried in by the canon lawyers and then by the school of natural law leading to voluntarism, the leading lights of which were Domat and Pothier and which carried all before it under the French Civil Code during the whole of the nineteenth century. Conversely, in England, though not in Scotland, Roman law has not had the same influence. It took longer for the notion of contract to be worked out and voluntarism went into an almost immediate decline. The decline was hastened by the analyses of American writers, particularly following the famous article by Fuller and Perdue these went as far as proclaiming the death of the contract. Yet contract is alive, and it continues to constitute the basic legal instrument used to regulate the economic relations between natural and legal persons. It is, however, a concept which has undergone a certain evolution and which, from a comparative point of view, does not take the form of a uniform model. A contract under common law is not exactly the same as under the German or French legal systems. For that reason, it is necessary to begin with a study of the basic notion of a contract as it exists in the main legal systems with which we are concerned, in order to work out what it is that the various concepts with which we are concerned, in order to work out what it is that the various concepts found in those systems have in common. Once that has been done, it will be possible to determine the relationship between the notion of a contract, as thus defined, and the other sources of law giving rise to obligations, such as torts and quasi-contract/restitution. After that, it will then be necessary to move onto a higher plane, by considering what it is that gives binding force to a contract (Beale, 2002, Kötz and Flessner, 1997).
A contract is a voluntary agreement or promise between legally competent parties, supported by legal consideration, to perform or refrain from performing) some legal act. That definition may be easier to