Shadwell v Shadwell

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Shadwell v Shadwell
Court Court of Common Pleas
Citation(s) [1860] EWHC CP J88, (1860) 9 CB (NS) 159
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Erle CJ, Byles J, Keating J
Consideration, pre-existing duty, third party

Shadwell v Shadwell [1860] EWHC CP J88 is an English contract law case, which held that it would be a valid consideration for the court to enforce a contract if a pre-existing duty was performed, so long as it was for a third party.


Mr Shadwell was engaged to marry Ellen Nicholl (this is a binding contract). His Uncle Charles promised £150 a year in a letter after the marriage. He wrote,

Sadly, Uncle Charles died. Mr Shadwell alleged that his Uncle had not paid in full before the death and claimed the outstanding money from his Uncle's estate. The estate refused to pay on the ground that Mr Shadwell had given no consideration for the promise to pay the £150 pa.


The Court of Common Pleas held that there was good consideration for the promise by the nephew marrying Ellen Nicholl, despite the fact that the marriage had already happened when the promise was made. There was good consideration in performing a pre-existing contract, if it was with a third party.

Erle CJ said,

Byles J dissented. In particular he disagreed on the factual question that the marriage was at the Uncle's request.

Keating J agreed with Erle CJ.

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