Document Type


Citation Information

Please cite to the original publication


Numerous theories have been advanced to explain the origin of the common law doctrine of consideration. It has been denominated a modification of the Roman causa, adopted by courts of equity and borrowed therefrom by the courts of common law. It has been said to be derived from the requirement of a quid pro quo in the action of debt. It has been declared to have its antecedent in the requirement of damage to the plaintiff in the action on the case for deceit. And finally it has been asserted to have evolved from both of the last mentioned requirements. But whatever its source, it is certain that from the beginning of the seventeenth century, if not from an earlier time, benefit to the promisor received by him from the promisee in exchange for the promise has been at least as efficacious a support for such a promise as detriment suffered by the promisee. Some modern commentators, however, have attempted to simplify the definition of consideration by making detriment to the promisee suffered in exchange for the promise, the exclusive test, partly because this test is historically more accurate, and partly because a benefit to the promisor involves a detriment to the promisee. It is not, and indeed, could not be, contended that the courts have consciously discarded benefit to the promisor as a test of consideration, for not only has no case been cited which declares detriment to the promisee to be the only test, but, on the contrary, practically every modem court which attempts to give a definition of consideration includes benefit to the promisor as an alternative test.

Date of Authorship for this Version



contract law

Included in

Law Commons