Contracts: Consideration

Consideration is another very important aspect of a contract. Consideration can be thought of as what each party will receive from the contract. In the example from last week, Liz sold her car to Ben. Once Ben made the offer and Liz accepted, the money he promised to give her is his consideration and the car she promised to give him is her consideration. There are many different types of consideration. First, it can be something that benefits the promise, such as Ben gaining a car or Liz gaining money in the example above. Second, it can be a detriment to the promisor. This would be Liz giving up the car and Ben giving up the money. Third, it can be a promise to do something, like paying someone in advance if they promise to come mow your lawn next week. Fourth, it can be a promise to refrain from doing something. This can be as simple as making a deal with your friend to give up eating chocolate for a month in exchange for $20.

Although a contract must have consideration on both sides to be considered valid, a court will rarely, if ever, judge the fairness of the consideration. Therefore, if Ben only offered Liz $3 for her car, but Liz accepted the offer, the consideration requirement is still fulfilled. Even though $3 doesn’t necessarily seem like a fair exchange for a car, a contact would still be formed between the two.