Debt, * contracts. A sum of money due by certain and express agreement. 3 Bl. Com. 154. In a less technical sense, as in the "act to regulate arbitrations and proceedings in courts of justice" of Pennsylvania, passed the 21st of March, 1806, s. 5, it means an claim for money. In a still more enlarged sense, it denotes any kind of a just demand; as, the debts of a bankrupt. 4 S. & R. 506.

2. Debts arise or are proved by matter of record, as judgment debts; by bonds or specialties; and by simple contracts, where the quantity is fixed and specific, and does not depend upon any future valuation to settle it. 3 Bl. Com. 154; 2 Hill. R. 220.

3. According to the civilians, debts are divided into active and passive. By the former is meant what is due to us, by the latter, what we owe. By liquid debt, they understand one, the payment of which may be immediately enforced, and not one which is due at a future time, or is subject to a condition; by hypothecary debt is meant, one which is a lien over an estate and a doubtful debt, is one the payment of which is uncertain. Clef des Lois Rom. h. t.

4. Debts are discharged in various ways, but principally by payment. See Accord and Satisfaction; Bankruptcy; Confusion Compensation; Delegation; -Defeasance; Discharge of a contract; Extinction; Extinguishment; Former recovery; Lapse of time; Novation; Payment; Release; Rescission; Set off.

5. In payment of debts, some are to be paid before others, in cases of insolvent estates first, in consequence of the character of the creditor, as debts due to the United States are generally to be first paid; and secondly, in consequence of the nature of the debt, as funeral expenses and servants' wages, which are generally paid in preference to other debts. See Preference; Privilege; Priority.

* From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1856 Edition. Please see Bouvier's Legal Abbreviations & Abbreviated References for help with obscure nomenclature & references.

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