Hartley v Ponsonby, Facts, Issue, Decision, Important Points

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This case is concerned with the “Existing legal duty is not consideration” in the consideration chapter of contract law

Facts of Hartley v Ponsonby

There were 37 crew members on a ship which was returning to UK. Ponsonby , the Defendant, was the sailor of the ship. When the ship was on its way, 17 of the crew members left.

By this the Ship came in danger and it was becoming un-controllable to handle. The Defendant promised the rest of the crew members that if they help him get the ship back to uk by doing the work of the rest of the workers. He will pay them extra wages.

To this the crew members relied and did more than what they were obliged to do, When the ship reached back to U.K the sailor refused to pay them more. The Cliamant sued the sailor for price.


The Defendant said that he was not obliged to pay them more because they were doing already what they were contracted for. So the issue was that will the court find a good consideration in this case or not?


The Courts gave the decision in the favour of the claimants and said that they did the work for the other crew members. Which shows that by doing extra work they had provided consideration and hence are amounted to the extra payment

Important Point of Hartley v Ponsonby

  • This case is usually used for the Crticism in Stilk v Myrick, as having similar facts but courts had a different decision

Related Readings

Stilk v Myrick

William v Roffey

Hanson v Royden

Raggow v Scougall

The Eurymedon