Mrs Hyndley is the owner of two properties that she rents to students in the Belfast area. In January 2008 she asks her friend and next door neighbour Frederick, a local estate agent, to collect the rents from her tenants while she goes off on a 6 month round the world cruise. She does not discuss terms or payment with Frederick. However, Frederick agrees and does collect the rents. When Mrs Hyndley returns to Belfast in July 2008, she is grateful to Frederick and tells him that she will give him £500 for his work. In October 2008 Frederick still has not to receive his payment.
Can Frederick enforce the promise?
From the case above the main issue is whether Frederick will be able to show that the promise which Mrs Hyndley made to him of the payment of £500 for the work which he did for her can be classified as consideration as this work was a benefit to Mrs Hyndley as she got to go on her 6 month around the world cruise, whilst Frederick collected the rents from her student tenants for the two properties which she owns in Belfast.
There is a simple fairness that promises must be kept and Mrs Hyndley promised Frederick £500 for the work which he did for her therefore it is only fair that Frederick gets the £500 which Mrs Hyndley promised him. However whether Frederick will be able to enforce this promise which Mrs Hyndley made is questionable as Mrs Hyndley could argue that Frederick should have discussed with her the terms or payments for the work which she asked him to do before he completed the work for her and as it was not discussed before the work was done it was therefore not clear that a payment for the work which Frederick was doing for her was expected, due to their relationship as friends and neighbours.
This case is past consideration where the promise which Mrs Hyndley made to Frederick was based upon consideration that was provided before the promise was made and a promise cannot be based upon consideration that was provided before the promise was made. In general law it is said that past consideration is no consideration. Therefore the debts which are claimed to represent payments for services previously rendered are likely to be invalid without a formal agreement in place, which is most likely to occur in this case between Frederick and Mrs Hyndley as it regards a debt between them with their relationship as friends.
In the case ‘Eastwood V Kenyon’, the guardian of a young girl raised a loan to educate the girl and to improve her marriage prospects. After her marriage her husband promised to pay off the loan. It was held that the guardian could not enforce the promise as taking out the loan to raise and educate the girl was past consideration because it was completed before the husband promised to repay it. This case of ‘Eastwood V Kenyon’ has similarities to the case of Frederick and Mrs Hyndley as both are based on the issue of past consideration and from the outcome of the Eastwood V Kenyon case it does not seem likely that Frederick will be able to enforce the promise which Mrs Hyndley made to him as Frederick ha completed the work for Mrs Hyndley before she has promised to pay him the £500 as the guardian had took out the loan for the girl before the husband had promised to repay the loan.
Furthermore, where a contract exists between two parties, and one party subsequent to formation promises to confer additional benefit on the other party to contract that promise is not binding because the promisee’s consideration which is his entry into the original contract had been completed at the time the next promise was made. Therefore this indicates that the promise which Mrs Hyndley made to Frederick is not binding as this his promise to do the work for Mrs Hyndley had been completed before Mrs Hyndley had promised him the payment of £500.
On the exemptions of past consideration Lord Scarman...