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Consideration is a common law concept as far as I can tell. As someone unfamiliar with how it came to be: Why was consideration introduced? What's the rationale, the goal behind it?


A contract is what lets you sue someone over a private transaction. That's what it does, that's all it does. If for whatever reason you're not willing to bring a contract dispute to court, then your contract doesn't do anything and you wasted your time writing it. Contract = right to sue for breach of contract.

In order to sue someone, you need to be able to describe what damages have been done to you. The goal of a lawsuit is for the responsible party to 'make you whole,' i.e. pay you back an amount equal to the damages done to you.

In a contract dispute, the 'damages' of breaking the contract is equal to the 'consideration' of fulfilling the contract. In other words, the promised consideration is the actual thing that you can sue over.

If there is no consideration, then there are no potential damages, and there is no potential lawsuit. And since the only point of a contract is to enable a lawsuit, a contract that doesn't do that isn't a contract.

"the 'damages' of breaking the contract is equal to the 'consideration' of fulfilling the contract"

This is categorically incorrect.

Damages for breach of contract are supposed to put you back in the position you'd have been in had the contract been performed. It's not related to the value of the consideration.

Consideration is one of the things needed to make a contract binding in English law (along with offer & acceptance, and "intention to create legal relations").

Jurists still debate the rationale for consideration, but the best answer I've found is that contract in English law is seen as an exchange or a “bargain”. There is no gratuitous contract, donations are not contractual right.

By comparison, a contract under French law is based on "consent of the parties" and the theory of individual autonomy. There's no requirement for consideration.

In a "mutual NDA", consideration is easy to find; each party agrees not to disclose confidential information disclosed by the counterparty.

Another way to make an agreement binding without consideration is to sign it as a deed.


> In a "mutual NDA", consideration is easy to find; each party agrees not to disclose confidential information disclosed by the counterparty.

I don't think mutual NDAs are typical. Typically, you sign an NDA prior to receiving information. So the consideration for signing the NDA is receiving the information that you agreed to not disclose. If you already have that information, then that's no longer valid consideration.

In this case, the reporter already knew the security vulnerability, so that knowledge could not be considered consideration. The bank would have needed to offer something else.

It's what distinguishes a contract from a promise.

If I say, "I'm going to give you some apples in six months, after the harvest" and then there's a blight and I don't actually end up with any apples, society (at least in America) decided that I should be able to just say, "Oops, sorry, I'm not going to be able to give you those apples after all" and be done with it.

On the other hand, if I say, "I am going to sell you some apples in six months, in return for $100", American society collectively decided that I'm on the hook to get you those apples, regardless of whatever difficulties should ensue.

I believe the idea is nobody would willingly sign a contract that does nothing to benefit themselves so they must have been mislead into the agreement thus it is invalid. Sort of a rational actor theory of law.

Isn't the benefit for William that he was provided some confidential information in addition to what he already knew?

Typically yes, access to the information is the proper consideration for agreeing not to further disclose the information. But as lisper says [0], that will also typically be spelled out in the contract.

If a contract doesn't outline consideration, and the jurisdiction requires consideration, then the lawyer writing the contract was not very good at their job...

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14167805

Possibly. But the contract doesn't say so. This is exactly why the consideration has to be explicit, so the judge adjudicating disputes doesn't have to guess about such things.

Basically, per our phone call, my consideration was duress. As in "sign this or else..."

Because it’s much easier for the court to reach a judgement about a contract if both parties are clear about what they were expecting to gain from it.

Also, you have to ask why someone chose to sign a one-sided contract. Was it signed under duress? The court shouldn’t enforce that. Was it a gift? The court would rather not get involved with enforcing every casual promise!

Is this a test? Are we allowed to use Wikipedia? Because Wikipedia has a lot on it.

This was a test for understanding that a person not familiar with a particular field (e.g. GP and common law) will not be easily able to find a source on a particular aspect of that field and at the same time verify the information are more-less complete. Therefore, it's much easier for someone familiar with the field to provide a link to appropriate source.

You, sir, have unfortunately failed that test.

I thought it was significant that they were able to distinguish it as a common-law concept. Are you implying this was something like a lucky guess on their part?

My guess is that 'beefhash is not from a common law country and was only able to figure out for sure that the topic is a part of common law.

Their other comments cause me to guess differently.

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