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Roscorla v Thomas

(1842) 3 QB 234

Overview

Stands as authority for the principle that past consideration is not good consideration.

Horse running in snow

Facts

P purchased a horse from D. D then promised the horse was sound and 'free from vice'. The horse was in fact not sound and P sued for breach of contract.

Held

There was no consideration for the promise that the horse was sound. 

The only consideration that had been alleged was the contract for the sale of the horse. This had preceded the defendant’s promise – it was not part of the bargain – not given in exchange for the promise. Consequently it was not good consideration.

HorseLord Denman:

'It may be taken as a general rule, subject to exceptions ... that the promise must be coextensive with the consideration. In the present case, the only promise that would result from the consideration, as stated, and be coextensive with it, would be to deliver the horse upon request. The precedent sale, without a warranty, though at the request of the defendant, imposes no other duty or obligation upon him. It is clear, therefore, that the consideration stated would not raise an implied promise by the defendant that thte horse was sound or free from vice. ...

... a consideration past and executed will support no other promsie than such as would be implied by law.'