A case discussed later in this article, Williams v Roffey and Nicholls Bros (1991), appears to even allow consideration to be something which is of any kind of benefit to the offerer, in this case the offerer not having to find new contractors to carry out work on the building site he was employed. Many commentators have argued over what constitutes valid consideration. Some such as Trietel argue the consideration must have some sort of economic value but other academics such as Atiyah argue that all consideration is doing is providing a reason for the offerer to put forwards his offer or promise. See Williams v Roffey below for further elaboration on this area.
Intangible Returns -
It has been held affection or lack of annoyance do not constitute consideration. In White v Bluett (1853) 23 LJ Ex 36, it was held that a son had not showed consideration for his father's promise to write-off debts owed to him by the son, if the son was to stop complaining about how the father had distributed his estate in his will.
If a person (claimant) had promised not to enforce a claim against the offerer and that claim is valid in law, then this can be valid consideration. If they promise not to assert a claim that is not valid in law then this is not to be held valid consideration except if the original offerer believes it to be good and so too does the claimant. Cook v Wright (1861) sheds some light and clarity on this. The Claimants genuinely believed the defendant was under an obligation to reimburse them. The defendant eventually paid them the disputed sum but later realized he was under no obligation to and so argued the claimant had showed no valid consideration. The court held that because the claimant genuinely believed they were disregarding a valid claim in law they had shown consideration and moreover the defendant had obtained the benefit of becoming debt-free. This supports the view that there must be some sort of benefit to the offerer.
The same situation arises when B performs in a way he is already legally obliged to do so. An example of this is the case of Stilk v Myrick (1809) 2 Camp 317. This case has two law reports and has since been accepted as a case of duress not consideration since doubt was cast upon the case by Williams v Roffey. In Stilk, it was held a crew member of a ship was not entitled to the extra wages the Ship's captain offered him for manning the ship back to its home port after 2 crew members abandoned the ship in the Caribbean. The rationale of the court was that the crew member was already under an existing contractual duty.
It is important to look at the situation of this principle since Williams v Roffey in 1991. It is clear this case is acting as a case that casts doubt on many established principles in the area of consideration. Williams v Roffey will be discussed further below.
Law Report: Method of Ascertaining Consideration for Capital Gains Tax ; 24 May 2000 - Garner (Inspector of Taxes) V Pounds Shipowners and Shipbreakers Ltd; Garner (Inspector of Taxes) V Pounds House of Lords (Lord Slynn of Hadley, Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle, Lord Clyde, Lord Hutton and Lord Millett) 18 May 2000
May 24, 2000; A PAYMENT made by a taxpayer in order to obtain the release of restrictive covenants affecting land in respect of which the...