Undertaking – a written promise, pledge, or engagement which binds the signatory to an obligation; unlike a bond, the principal isn’t required to sign

undertaking:
n. (14c)

Broadly, that which one has agreed to do. Technically, an obligation in writing binding the signatories to pay such an amount as shall be adjudged due. General American Industries, Inc. v County Court of Clear Creek County, 136 Colo 86, 316 P2d 565.

Although the essential purpose of an undertaking is the same as that of a bond, and an undertaking with security is in common usage and in the language of the law, a bond, the dissimilarity in terms is fundamental.  An undertaking has to do with amounts to be determined, whereas a bond has to do with liquidated amounts. 12 Am J2d Bonds § 1.

The distinction between a bond and an undertaking is that the principal should sign the former and that he is not required to sign the latter. Russell v Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co. 37 Mont 1, 94 P 488, 501. [1]

1. In a contract, a promise by one of the parties.
     Compare mutual promises.

2. A person’s written obligation.  EXAMPLES: a note; a draft.

3. Any promise or pledge.

4 Any venture, particularly a business venture.

5. Any endeavor.

6. The business of a funeral director. [2]

l. A promise, pledge, or engagement.

2. A bail bond. [3]

     Excerpt from Joseph H. Beale Jr.’s Gratuitous Undertakings (1891 ):

     “An undertaking is the entrance of two parties into such relationship as that one party, on account of the bare relationship unaided by any agreement, has a new duty to perform toward the other; he undertakes a new duty. . . . [T]he violation of an undertaking is not a tort, properly so called.  It is a careful and exact use of legal language to call an undertaking a consensual obligation; it is a burden into which the obligor must voluntarily enter. [4]

undertake:
vb. (13c)

1. To take on an obligation or task <he has undertaken to chair the committee on legal aid for the homeless>.

2. To give a formal promise; guarantee <the merchant undertook that the goods were waterproof>.

3. To act as surety for (another); to make oneself responsible for (a person, fact, or the like) <her husband undertook her appearance in court>. [3]

References:

Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: Joseph H. Beale Jr., Gratuitous Undertakings, 5 Harv. L. Rev. 222, 223-24 (1891 ).

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