legal duty

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A legal duty is an obligation, created by law or contract. A legal duty requires a person to conform his or her actions to a particular standard. And it also carries with it a recognition that the law will enforce this duty to the benefit of other individuals to whom this duty is owed. Put another way, the existence of a legal duty depends on whether the interest that a defendant has allegedly invaded is entitled to legal protection. For example, in the context of tort law, a landowner may have a legal duty to protect invitees from hazards on their property, like an open pit.

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]