Forming enforceable contracts—consideration
Published by a LexisPSL Dispute Resolution expert

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Forming enforceable contracts—consideration
  • What is consideration?
  • Executory consideration
  • Requirements of consideration
  • Benefit and detriment
  • Mutual promises
  • Sufficiency
  • Economic value
  • What is past consideration?
  • The doctrine
  • More...

Forming enforceable contracts—consideration

This Practice Note examines the doctrine of consideration and the key role it plays in English law in determining whether a contract is enforceable.

A promise will only be capable of being contractually enforced if it is either made in a deed or made in exchange for something of value, known as 'consideration'. This Practice Note considers what amounts to valid consideration.

Note: settlement offers made under CPR Part 36 operate outside the general rules of contract law and are governed by the specific regime set out in CPR 36. See Practice Notes: Part 36 offers—what are they, why make them? and Part 36 offers—how to make a valid Part 36 offer.

For guidance on the specific requirements for documenting promises by way of a deed, see Practice Note: Deeds.

What is consideration?

Consideration is a key ingredient for an enforceable contract. It is concerned with what one party gives or promises in exchange for a promise or performance from another party. It requires 'something of value' to be given for the promise.

There is a rule that 'consideration must move from the promisee'—this means that a person to whom a promise is made can only enforce the promise if they have provided consideration for it.

There is no corresponding requirement that consideration moves to the promisor. Thus, the promisee may provide consideration by doing an act (eg giving

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