Roscorla v Thomas (1842): consideration must not be past.

Areas of applicable law: Contract law – Consideration – Past consideration

Main arguments in this case: Past consideration is no consideration.

The fact of the case: The claimant bought a horse from the defendant. After the sale finished the defendant told the claimant that it was a sound horse and did not have any vice such as bad temper. The truth however was quite different from what the claimant had been told. The horse had a very bad temper and was ferocious. The claimant sued the defendant.

The court decided that the claimant could not sue because the statement about the horse had taken place after the sale was completed. Had the defendant made the same promise before the sale then the defendant would have a claim.  Because the promise was made after the sale, the claimant was not able to provide any consideration for it; and hence he was not able to make a claim on it.

In another word, for a contract to exist and any terms of the contract to be valid, consideration must be provided. The deal had already taken place in which the defendant offered the sale of the horse and the claimant provided the consideration by paying for it. If the claim (about the horse) which came after the sale was a promise then the claimant had not provided any consideration for it.

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