FAULT, contracts, civil law. An improper act or omission, which arises from ignorance, carelessness, or negligence. The act or omission must not have been meditated, and must have caused some injury to another. Lec. Elcm. §783. See Dolus, Negligence. 1 Miles' Rep. 40.
2. - 1. Faults or negligence are usually divided into, gross, ordinary, and slight: 1. Gross fault or neglect, consists in not observing that care towards others, which a man the least attentive, usually takes of his own affairs. Such fault may, in some cases, afford a presumption of fraud, and in very gross cases it approaches so near, as to be almost undistinguishable from it, especially when the facts seem hardly consistent with an honest intention. But there may be a gross fault without fraud. 2 Str. 1099; Story, Bailm. §18-22; Toullier, 1. 3, t. 3, §231. 2. Ordinary faults consist in the omission of that care which mankind generally pay to their own concerns; that is, the want of ordinary diligence. 3. A slight fault consists in the want of that care which very attentive persons take of their own affairs. This fault assimilates itself, and, in some cases, is scarcely distinguishable, from mere accident, or want of foresight. This division has been adopted by common lawyers from the civil law. Although the civilians generally agree in this division, yet they are not without a difference of opinion. See Pothier, Observation generale, sur le precedent Traite, et sur les suivants; printed at the end of his Traite des Obligations, where he cites Accurse, Alciat, Cujas, Duaren, D'Avezan, Vinnius, and Heineccius, in support of this division. On the other side the reader is referred to Thomasius, tom. 2, Dissertationem, pago 1006; Le Brun, cited by Jones, Bailm. 27; and Toullier, Droit Civil Francais, liv. 3, tit. 3, §231.
3. - 2. These principles established, different rules have been made as to the responsibilities of parties for their faults in relation to their contracts. They are reduced by Pothier to three.
4.- I. In those contracts where the party derives no benefit from his undertaking, he is answerable only for his gross faults.
5.-2. In those contracts where the parties have a reciprocal interest, as in the contract of sale, they are responsible for ordinary neglect.
6. - 3. In those contracts where the party receives the only advantage, as in the case of loan for use, he is answerable for his slight fault. Poth. Observ. Generale; Traite des Oblig. §142; Jones, Bailm. 119 Story, Bailm. 12. See also Ayliffe, Pand. 108. Civ. C. Lou. 3522; 1 Com. Dig. 41 3; 5 Id. 184; Wesk. on Ins. 370.