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Facts[]

The defendant, Braithwaite, killed a man. He asked the plaintiff, Lampleigh, to secure him a pardon from the king. The plaintiff spent many days doing this, riding and journeying at his own cost across the country to where the King was and back again. Afterwards, the defendant promised to pay the plaintiff £100 in gratitude. He later failed to pay the money. The plaintiff sued.

Issue[]

  1. Can a promise to pay after a request has been fulfilled be binding?

Decision[]

Binding contract found, judgment for the plaintiff.

Reasons[]

The court held that while a mere voluntary promise is not sufficient consideration, there was a prior request and then the promise to pay. This is then not a nudum pactum (“naked promise” or “bare promise” i.e., a promise not legally enforceable for want of consideration). Coupled with the prior request, the subsequent promise to pay formed a binding contract.

Ratio[]

A promise made after performance can be enforced, if it was understood by the parties that there would be some kind of reward prior the performance.

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