General Assumpsit – Breach of (non-written) Promise or Agreement

Definition of General Assumpsit:

(18c.) An action based on the defendant’s breach of an implied promise to pay a debt to the plaintiff. — Also termed common assumpsit; indebitatus assumpsit.

     “General assumpsit is brought for breach of a fictitious or implied promise raised by law from a debt founded upon an executed consideration. The basis of the action is the promise implied by law from the performance of the consideration, or from a debt or legal duty resting upon the defendant.

  • Benjamin J. Shipman, Handbook of Common-Law Pleading § 59, t 153 (Henry Winthrop Ballantine ed., 3d. 1923)

     “[T]he word ‘assumpsit’ suggest[s] the making of a promise. While that is true in the case of the action of special assumpsit, the promise alleged in the action of general assumpsit was only a fiction. Accordingly in the latter action, the work ‘assumpsit’ no more means that an obligation exists as the result of making a contract, than that a contract is involved because the obligation is described as quasi-contractual.

  • Charles Herman Kinnane, A First Book of Anglo-American Law 633-34 (2d ed. 1952)1