Williams V. Roffey: The Doctrine Of Consideration In The Common Law

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Introduction The doctrine of consideration defines one of the essential elements required for contractual liability in the common law. The redefinition of such a principal criterion inevitably results in transformation in the reaches of contract law. Williams v Roffey Brothers and Nicholls (Contractors) Ltd advocates for such a shift in the boundaries of contractual liability, and thus initiates controversies regarding its desirability. The Roffey case, in essence, extends the limits of contractual liability in such a way that numerous authorities have criticized that it in fact forms more problems than it solves in relation to the doctrine of consideration. This paper seeks to investigate the effect of this judgment on the traditional doctrine of consideration through its inventive impact, motivating factors behind it, and the subsequent problems it creates. Definition of Consideration To critically analyze the effect that Roffey has on the doctrine of consideration, it is fundamental to begin by defining and examining said doctrine. Consideration, as Lush J states, “may consist either in some right, interest, profit, or benefit accruing to the one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss or responsibility, given, suffered, or undertaken by…show more content…
The courts, on numerous accounts , have had to “invent” consideration when it is lacking to justify enforcement, thus drawing the question on whether or not “invented” consideration differs from “ordinary” consideration. Atiyah argues that “if an invented consideration modifies the rules governing ordinary consideration, then an invented consideration becomes again an ordinary consideration, though the legal significance of the doctrine has now changed.” The invention of consideration introduces new boundaries for the doctrine, and such is the case of Roffey

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