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Hamer v Sidway

(1881) 124 NY 538

Overview

The case concerned the issue of consideration - in particular, whether giving up a freedom to engage in something objectively bad for you (with the result giving it up woule be good for you) could constitute valid consideration. The Court held that it could.

Men playing cards - gambling

 

Facts

Uncle promised nephew that, if he would refrain from drinking, using tobacco, swearing and playing cards or billiards for money until he was 21, he would pay him $5000. Nephew did this and claimed the $5000.

 

Arguments

Defendant

(1) There was no consideration given by the plaintiff and

(2) refraining from drinking etc were not a harm suffered but a benefit.

 

Held

Justice Parker

The Plaintiff had surrendered a legal right he had to drink etc and this was good consideration – even though it was beneficial to the Plaintiff.