Roscorla v Thomas (1842) 3 QB 234

Key Point

  • The general rule is that past consideration for a prior promise is not good consideration for a new promise


  • The claimant (C) bought a horse from the defendant (D)
  • After the purchase of the horse, D told C that the horse was free from vice. However, in truth, the horse had a very bad temper and was vicious
  • C subsequently found out and sued D for breach of contract

Held (Court of Queen’s Bench)

  • C failed to prove breach of contract; D’s statement was made after the sale was completed and there was no consideration for it to become a binding contractual warranty

Lord Denman CJ

  • “It may be taken as a general rule, subject to exceptions … that the promise must be coextensive with the consideration. In the present case, the only promise that would result from the consideration, as stated, and be coextensive with it, would be to deliver the horse upon request. The precedent sale, without a warranty, though at the request of the Defendant, imposes no other duty or obligation upon him. It is clear, therefore, that the consideration stated would not raise an implied promise by the Defendant that the horse was sound or free from vice”: p. 497 – 498
  • “…the general rule [is] that a consideration past and executed will support no other promise than such as would be implied by law.”: p. 498