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Unformatted text preview: ed, but says he is going to wait a few years before paying him. Uncle
wants the nephew to be a little more mature before handing such a big wad of cash. (Note: This was a
lot of money in those days! The modern equivalent would be over $30,000.)
Unfortunately, the uncle dies before paying the nephew. (Note: If you’re wondering why the case is
called Hamer v. Sidway and not Story v. Story, it is because the nephew had assigned his claim to
Mr. Hamer, and the legal representative of the uncle’s estate is named Sidway.) The uncle’s executor
refuses to pay the money, saying there was no contract.
Issue: Was there a contract? Did the nephew give consideration?
Discussion: The estate contended that because the nephew was only doing what was good for him,
he did not give consideration. The nephew was not harmed and the uncle received no benefit. But
because the nephew had a legal right to drink, smoke, swear, and play cards and billiards for money,
and he gave up those rights in exchange for his uncle’s promise to pay $5,000, the nephew had undertaken a detriment at the uncle’s behest. As the judge noted in his opinion, “Courts will not ask whether
the thing which forms the consideration does in fact benefit the promise . . . or is of any substantial
value to anyone. It is enough that something is promised, done, forborne, or suffered by the party to
whom the promise is made as consideration for the promise made to him.”
Holding: The court ruled that there was consideration, and thus a binding contract.
Questions for Discussion
1. Analyze whether the uncle made an offer.
A. Was there intent to contract? Do you think the uncle was serious?
B. Were the terms reasonably definite?
C. Would this be express or implied? Unilateral or bilateral?
D. If the uncle had instead promised, “If you mend your ways and behave yourself until you
are twenty-one, I’ll pay you $5,000,” would that be an offer?
E. Suppose the uncle promised, “If you refrain from drinking liquor and smoking tobacco,
I’ll pay you $5,000 when I’m convinced you’re going to stick with it.”Would that be a valid
2. Did the...
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- Spring '10
- Business Law