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Williams v Roffey Bros. and Nicholls (Contractors) Ltd [1991] 1 QB 1

Facts:

P carpenter employed by D. During project P suffered financial difficulties. D agreed to pay an additional bonus to be paid as apartments finished. P didn’t receive money

Issue(s):

Was the variation of the contract accompanied by consideration?

Ratio:

An abandonment of the contract by consensus of both parties can constitute good consideration for a subsequent contract where:
**The party promising to increase the payment offered receives a practical benefit, AND
**There is no economic duress or fraud on the part of the receiver of the payment

Analysis:

Promissory Estoppel
**Possible for a person to whom a promise was made, on which he has relied, to make an additional payment for services which he is in any event bound to render bc of contract, to show that the promisor is estopped from claiming that there was no consideration
Economic Duress
**If A agrees to undertake work at fixed price, and before completion he declined to continue with it unless B agrees to pay an increased price, A may be guilty of securing Bs promise by taking unfair advantage of the difficulties he will cause if he doe not complete the work

Holding:

Ds promise to pay was supported by consideration

Comments:

Very narrow doctrine.
Practical benefit is not a legal benefit – a legal benefit would be if they were gaining something they were not already entitled too


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