The purpose of the essay is to analyze the rule 1174 of the Italian civil code. This article has
always been considered as the last remainder of the definition of obligation, an idea that was taken in
consideration by theorists during the ‘30s. As this idea was later put aside, also rule 1174 was then
considered by Italian jurists too much abstract, and was quite neglected. The essay underlines the importance of this rule, pointing out the fact that it identifies the two main features of the obligation –
the economic value of the performance and its relationship with a specific interest or advantage of the
obligee - putting two fundamental limits to freedom of contracts.