Hamer v. Sidway


Nephew and uncle, agree that uncle would pay his nephew $5000 if the nephew would does not drinking, use tobacco, swear, and play cards and billiards for money until he turned 21. When nephew turned 21 his uncle sends letter stating that nephew had earned the money, but is not of appropriate age to have money.  Uncle states that he will give nephew money at a later date when he is of age and will pay with interest.  The uncle died twelve years later without having transferred the funds to his nephew.  Nephew sues executor of estate.


Is abstinence from legal behavior which is said to benefit the promisee sufficient consideration to create a valid and enforceable contract with the promisor who receives no recognizable benefit?


Reversed in favor of Hamer.


“In general, a waiver of any legal right at the request of another party is a sufficient consideration for a promise.”

“Any damage, or suspension or forbearance of a right, will be, sufficient to sustain a promise.”


Refraining from legal behavior is forbearance of a legal right and constitutes consideration.  The nephew gave up a right in refraining from behavior, even if it was of benefit to him.  Uncle simultaneously waived his right to keep the money at the end of the term by engaging in the promise.  Consideration is not measured as a benefit to the promisor.

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