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The common law is one of two major and successful systems of law developed in Western Europe, and in one form or another is now in force not only in the country of its origin but also in the United States and large parts of the British Commonwealth and former parts of the Empire. Perhaps its most typical product is English contract law, developed continuously since the birth of the common law almost wholly by judicial decision.
Although in its modern form primarily a product of the nineteenth century, the common law of contract as we know it developed around the action of assumpsit which evolved at the close of the fourteenth century, and many of its characteristic doctrines first emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This book, which takes the story up to 1677 (the date of statute of frauds) forms the first part of the history of contract law, and is written primarily from a doctrinal standpoint.