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Stilk v Myrick

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Stilk v Myrick
UK

Citation

Stilk v Myrick (1809), 170 ER 1168

Plaintiff

Stilk

Defendant

Myrick

Year

1809

Court

King's Bench Division

Judge

Lord Ellenborough

Country

United Kingdom

Area of law

Consideration, Pre-existing legal duty

Issue

Can a duty bound by an existing contract serve as consideration for a new contract?

FactsEdit

Stilk was contracted to work on a ship owned by Myrick for £5 a month, promising to do anything needed in the voyage regardless of emergencies. After the ship docked at Cronstadt two men deserted, and after failing to find replacements the captain promised the crew the wages of those two men divided between them if they fulfilled the duties of the missing crewmen as well as their own. After arriving at their home port the captain refused to pay the crew the money he had promised to them.

IssueEdit

  1. Was there legally sufficient consideration of this agreement to allow the sailors to collect?

DecisionEdit

No consideration found; finding for the defendant.

ReasonsEdit

The court held that the original contract bound Stilk to perform any and all duties on board the ship, and thus performing the additional work of the deserted crewmen was not sufficient as consideration in light of the new promise.

RatioEdit

Performance of a pre-existing duty is not legally sufficient consideration.

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