I'm looking for an appropriate term for an obligor that breaches a duty. It should apply to tort and contractual duties and to substantial as well as procedural law.

I would also be interested in a corresponding passive term (for "obligor," it is "obligee").

  • One thought. The lack of a good word is in part because common law countries (which most English speaking countries are) don't really have a unified concept of obligations that both contract and tort law are integrated into. The concept might very well exist and have a name in civil law countries, but their words for it wouldn't be English words and might lack a good exact literal English language equivalent.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 18, 2020 at 18:21
  • I think you are completely right. And there is also the difference of a lack of clear separation between substantive and procedural law in common law.
    – Jonas
    Dec 19, 2020 at 8:05
  • The best I have come up with so far is "Injurer" and "Injured Claimant/Person"... Thanks for the helpful discussion, guys.
    – Jonas
    Dec 21, 2020 at 22:11
  • Not idea either as the harm caused by a breach of contract is often not an "injury" in the colloquial sense. Beaching obligor? Wronged obligee?
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 21, 2020 at 22:56
  • It's very difficult to have a word that covers all possible cases. The wrongdoer and wronged are probably the most general terms, but that is not apt to some aspects of commercial contract law, where the judges themselves treat a contractual default as something which the defaulter can legitimately buy themselves out from.
    – Steve
    Dec 23, 2020 at 7:28

1 Answer 1



A wrongdoer; an individual who commits a wrongful act that injures another and for which the law provides a legal right to seek relief; a defendant in a civil tort action.


  • Thanks for the reply, I did not think of that one. Unfortunately, I really need a term that also applies to contractual obligations... (if that exists)
    – Jonas
    Dec 17, 2020 at 22:29
  • 1
    Ok. How about defaulter or even defendant? And consider an edit your OP to include contract, as it only refers to the tort of negligence at the moment.
    – user35069
    Dec 17, 2020 at 22:48
  • 1
    If there are both contract and tort claims pending against the same person, it would be customary to refer to the person by their litigation posture (e.g. defendant, counterclaim defendant, crossclaim defendant, third-party defendant, etc,.) or by name.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 18, 2020 at 0:33
  • 1
    Changed the OP, sorry for the misunderstanding. My first thought regarding "defendant" is that it seems to me to be used in procedural law, not so much in substantive law. "Defaulter" is better, although my first thought is that its usage implies a duty to act and that it does not work as well for a duty to omit. But I might be wrong.
    – Jonas
    Dec 19, 2020 at 8:25

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