Hamer v. Sidway

124 N.Y. 538, 27 N.E. 256 (1891)



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.


A testator made an agreement with his nephew that if he refrained from drinking liquor, using tobacco, swearing and playing cards or billiards for money until he reached the age of twenty-one, the testator would pay him $ 5,000. The nephew fulfilled his obligation. When the nephew informed his uncle, it was agreed that the uncle would first keep the money on interest. Unfortunately, the uncle died before any money could be transferred to the nephew. Filing a case for sum of money with the trial court, the judgment was rendered in favor of the nephew but later on reversed by the General Term of the Supreme Court. The case was elevated on appeal to the Court of Appeals of New York.


Is a promise to abandon ones legal right to use tobacco and alcohol considered sufficient consideration to enforce a contract?




The Court held that the right to use and enjoy the use of tobacco is a right that belongs to the nephew and is not forbidden by law. The abandonment of its use is a sufficient consideration to uphold the promise because such abandonment was the inducement for the promise.

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