Hamer v. Sidway

124 N.Y. 538, 27 N.E. 256, 1891 N.Y. LEXIS 1396

Court of Appeals of New York
ISSUE:

Was there sufficient consideration to support the enforcement of the contract between the promisor and the promisee?

ANSWER:

Yes, it is not essential in order to make out a good consideration for a promise to show that the promisor was benefited or the promisee injured.

RULE:

LexisNexis Headnote 1: Enforcement of Promises, Forbearance A valuable consideration in the sense of the law consists either of some right, interest, profit or benefit accruing to the one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss or responsibility given, suffered or undertaken by the other. Courts will not ask whether the thing which forms the consideration does in fact benefit the promisee or a third party, or is of any substantial value to anyone. It is enough that something is promised, done, forborne or suffered by the party to whom the promise is made as consideration for the promise made to him.

FACTS:

A promisor agreed with the promisee, his nephew, that if the promisee would refrain from drinking liquor, using tobacco, swearing and playing cards or billiards for money until he became twenty-one years old, the promisor would pay him $ 5,000. The promisee so refrained and notified the promisor of his performance of his part of the agreement. After the promisor admitted the agreement and the performance, the two then agreed that the money, including interest, would be held by the promisor for the promisee until the promisee was capable of taking care of it. The promisor died before paying the promisee any portion of the agreed-upon sum.

RATIONALE:

Forbearance or abandonment of the legal right to use tobacco and alcohol in exchange for the payment of a sum of money was sufficient consideration to enforce the contract. A promise to forbear or abandon a legal right in return for another's promise is sufficient consideration to support a contract. Because the promisee abandoned his legal right to use tobacco and drink liquor in exchange for the promisor’s promise to pay him a sum of money, there was sufficient consideration to enforce the contract.

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