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Poole's Textbook on Contract Law

Poole's Textbook on Contract Law (15th edn)

Robert Merkin QC and Séverine Saintier
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date: 21 June 2024

p. 973. Enforceability of promises: consideration and promissory estoppellocked

p. 973. Enforceability of promises: consideration and promissory estoppellocked

  • Robert Merkin, Robert MerkinProfessor of Commercial Universities of Reading and Exeter
  • Séverine SaintierSéverine SaintierAssociate Professor in Commercial Law Exeter Law School, University of Exeter
  •  and Jill PooleJill Poole50th Anniversary Professor of Commercial Law and Head of Aston Law Deputy Dean, Aston Business School, Aston University

Abstract

Course-focused and comprehensive, Poole’s Textbook on Contract Law provides an accessible overview of the key areas on the law curriculum. Under English law, bargains and not gratuitous promises are enforced, thus a promise will not be enforceable if it is not contained in a deed (implying that any promise is taken seriously) or supported by consideration. Consideration refers to an act or a promise given in exchange for the promise (that is, the price for which the other’s promise was bought). The law does not recognize some acts or promises as good consideration, such as past consideration and performance of an existing legal duty. This chapter examines the general requirement in English law to provide consideration in order to enforce a contractual promise. The consideration requirement is relevant not only to the formation of a contract but also to the enforceability of promises altering the terms of an existing contract (alterations). An alteration promise that is not supported by consideration may still have some binding effect on the basis of the doctrine of promissory estoppel.

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