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Poole's Casebook on Contract Law

Poole's Casebook on Contract Law (16th edn)

Robert Merkin KC and Séverine Saintier
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date: 21 July 2024

p. 913. Enforceability of promises: consideration and promissory estoppellocked

p. 913. Enforceability of promises: consideration and promissory estoppellocked

  • Robert Merkin KC, Robert Merkin KCProfessor of Commercial Law Reading Law School, University of Reading
  • Séverine SaintierSéverine SaintierProfessor in Commercial Law Cardiff School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University
  •  and Jill PooleJill Poole50th Anniversary Professor of Commercial Law and Head of Aston Law Deputy Dean, Aston Business School, Aston University


Poole’s Casebook on Contract Law provides a comprehensive selection of case law that addresses all aspects of the subject encountered on undergraduate courses. In order to be enforceable, a promise must either be supported by consideration or be expressed in the form of a deed. This stems from the assumption in English contract law that only bargains should be enforced. This chapter examines the enforceability of promises, focusing on consideration and promissory estoppel. The case law has addressed what can constitute consideration and whether a promise can be enforced in the absence of consideration. The chapter focuses particularly on the enforceability of alteration promises, discusses part-payment of a debt, when and how the doctrine of promissory estoppel will operate, and how far the doctrine can be extended.

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