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Consideration Notes

Irish BCL Notes > Irish Contract Law Notes

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Consideration - Introduction Consideration means something of value in the eyes of the law moving from the plaintiff. Thomas v Thomas An act or forbearance of one party, or the promise thereof, is the price for which the promise of value is bought, and the promise thus given for value is enforceable. Pollock, Principles of Contract Law McCoubray v Thompson (1868) Facts

* A third party wished to convey land and have it split evenly between the plaintiffs.

* All parties agreed that upon the conveyance of the land to the defendant he would pay the plaintiff half the value. Issue

* Consideration - Moving from the Promisee Judgment

* The plaintiff cannot maintain an action as the consideration did not move from him to the defendant. Barry v Barry (QB 1891) Facts

* The defendant was willed a farm by his father on the condition that he pay the plaintiff PS20.

* In the presence of the plaintiff, the executors of the will asked him whether he would pay the money to the plaintiff prior to receiving the farm, to which he assented. Issue

* Consideration - Moving from the Promisee Judgment

* O'Brien J (concurring)

* There was consideration in this case - where someone has a legacy, their forbearing to enforce it can be a valid consideration, also the plaintiff's consent was required for the execution of the will.

* Holmes J (concurring)

* As the plaintiff could have taken steps to enforce the legacy and by forbearing to do so he had given valuable consideration to the defendant.

* Gibson J (concurring) Sufficiency and Adequacy Thomas v Thomas (QB 1842) Facts

* The defendant promised to convey a house to the plaintiff if she were to pay PS1 a year towards the ground rent and keep the house in repair.

* The defendant didn't keep his side of the agreement Issue


Consideration - Ground rent & maintenance


* The contribution and requirement to maintain are not burdens which are inherent in the property - if so they would be due to a landlord, not an executor or to go towards death duties etc.

* Thus the property is not a gift.

* The contribution is a thing newly created upon granting the property, it is valuable consideration and thus there is a binding agreement. Chappell & Co. v Nestle (HoL 1959) Facts

* The plaintiffs owned the copyright of a song, copies of which they sold to the defendants for the purpose of retail sale.

* The defendants sold the recordings to the public for a certain price upon receipt of wrappers from their products.

* The plaintiffs claimed that selling the records was a breach of copyright. Issue

* Consideration - Wrappers - Marketing campaign Judgment

* Viscount Simons (concurring)

* If the consideration is the evidence of a successful marketing campaign then it is valid.

* It cannot be the wrappers themselves as they are worthless.

* Thus, the copyright Act is not infringed as it applies to retail sales only, where money constitutes the entire consideration.

* Lord Reid (concurring)

* There were cases where the sending of wrappers was of benefit to Nestle and in these cases there was a contract.

* Lord Tucker (concurred)

* Lord Keith of Avonhom (dissenting)

* The wrappers are of no value to Nestle - they receive no indication of increased sales from them that they could not get from their accounts anyway.

* Lord Somervell of Harrow (concurring)

* Even if Nestle placed no value in the wrappers, they had stipulated that they be part of the consideration.

* They did derive a benefit from them in that it encouraged the purchase of their chocolate. O'Keeffe v Ryanair (HC 2002) Facts

* The plaintiff was offered free flights for herself and another for life if she agreed to do some publicity as the airline's millionth passenger.

* She agreed to do so and some time later the defendants put qualifications on her flights.

* She sued for breach of contract. Issue

* Consideration - Publicity Work - Surrender of anonymity Judgment (Kelly J)


The consideration to support a contract must be real i.e. capable of estimation in value.

* In this case the surrender of anonymity and privacy and the partaking in the publicity for the benefit of the defendants was real consideration.

* The defendants considered it valuable and there is no reason why the court should not consider it so either. Re Wilson (HC 1932)


* The testator agreed to convey certain property to his son in consideration of his natural love and affection. Issue

* Consideration - Natural Love and Affection Judgment (Johnston J)

* This is was not a bargain involving mutual considerations but a gift and as such is not enforceable. O'Neill v Murphy (NI CA 1936) Facts

* The plaintiff done work as an architect for the defendants (a religious order), they could not afford to pay him and an agreement was worked out whereby he would accept prayers as part payment.

* He later sued for the rest of the money. Issue

* Consideration - Prayers Judgment

* per Andrews LJ Prayers were not valid consideration. Hamer v Sidway (NY CA 1891) Facts

* The defendant promised the plaintiff that if he refrained from drinking, smoking, swearing or gambling until he was 21 he would give him $5,000.

* The plaintiff came of age and sought the money. Issue

* Consideration - Refraining from debauchery Judgment (Parker J)

* The plaintiff had abandoned his legal rights to engage in the activities - thus this was valid consideration. Hawkes v Saunders (KB 1792) Facts

* The defendant was the executor of a will and had promised the plaintiff that she would pay him his legacy.

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